This is why you don’t need a V8
1. It's a first. Sort of
Audi calls its Sportback a four-door coupe, which is why this model wears the RS5 moniker normally reserved for two-door models as opposed to the RS4 badge previously found on four-door variants. Mechanically identical to the RS4 Avant wagon, the new machine is officially the first of its kind yet a spiritual successor to the deleted RS4 sedan. Audi reckons this will be the most popular body style for its executive performance car, combining slinky styling with a practical four-door layout.
2. Doors plus? No fuss
Priced from $159,900 plus on-roads, exactly the same amount as its two-door sibling, the Sportback includes as standard a digital dash and head-up display, 20-inch wheels, sports exhaust, active rear differential, multi-mode suspension and other performance goodies. As always, there are plenty of add-ons such as the sharp-looking RS interior design package ($3300), matrix LED headlights ($1900) and ceramic brakes ($11,900). The Audi is a little dearer than BMW's M3 Competition ($146,900) but cheaper than the Mercedes-AMG C63 S sedan ($160,900).
3. Audi cabins rule
You only need a moment with the RS5 to realise Audi's interior game is on another level.
The RS5's high-definition dashboard is best-in-class, complete with gorgeous maps with satellite photography and special performance displays for lap times, power figures, G-forces and more. Alcantara trim on the steering wheel and gear selector joins eye-catching honeycomb quilting with red stitching for the seats - a match for the sweet ergonomics - plus powerful audio and intuitive infotainment. It's a magnificent space but you need to dip into options to make the most of it.
4. The joy of six
Power comes from a 2.9-litre V6 twin-turbo (331kW/600Nm). Quattro all-wheel drive and eight-speed automatic transmission help the Sportback reach 100km/h in just 3.9 seconds, more than brisk for a car in this class. Punchy at all engine speeds and an effortless performer, the V6 feels smooth and quiet in everyday running though it doesn't quite have the sound and free-revving nature of its V8-powered predecessor. Owners of the new car can console themselves with a car that is better in just about ever other way while being faster and more efficient.
5. A gripping experience
The RS5 is unquestionably smoother and more comfortable to live with than its German rivals. But people don't buy these cars to give their mother-in-law a plush ride home from the airport. Find some twisty roads and the RS5 comes alive, bringing poise and precision that separates it from lesser models. It's easy to place the Audi with confidence and easier still to deploy all that grunt. More composed if a little less thrilling than its classmates, the all-wheel drive Audi shines in the slippery conditions that would have a BMW or Benz owner second-guessing their throttle inputs.