Audi RS5 Review 2024

Written by Al Suttie

8/10
heycar ratingSophisticated GT with great poise
  • 2017
  • Performance
  • Petrol

Quick overview

Pros

  • Searing performance
  • Quality of cabin
  • Sportback is practical

Cons

  • Not as engaging as it might be to drive
  • Unsettled ride on poor roads
  • Engine misses the fun of the old V8

Overall verdict on the Audi RS5

“The world may have developed a strong taste for SUVs in recent years, but Audi has refused to let the performance coupe wither in its line-up. Instead, the RS5 comes in two- and five-door flavours with the Coupe and Sportback models. Both deliver sensational performance in a surprisingly civilised package.”

Audi RS5 Review 2024: static on location

Audi may have long since lost its spot as the only performance car maker providing all-wheel drive to harness the power of its cars, but it’s still a huge selling point for the RS models. In the case of the Audi RS5, the Quattro all-wheel drive delivers sure-footed handling and all-weather grip, as well as dealing admirably with the 450PS offered up by the twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 motor.


The engine is a bone of contention among Audi RS faithful. Some rue the passing of the old 4.2-litre V8 that eschewed turbochargers in favour of stratospheric revs and a soundtrack any rock band would be proud of. In 2017, that changed when emissions rules meant the V8 was replaced by the V6 motor, which doesn’t have the same aural drama, yet it also fits in with the RS5’s ruthlessly efficient vibe.


This is more of a differentiator for Audi now than its Quattro drive system. If you want a shouty performance coupe or family car, Alfa Romeo or BMW will be your first ports of call. The Audi RS5 is now a much more subtle way to enjoy your fix of pin-you-to-the-seat acceleration and seemingly unstickable cornering grip.


A result of the Audi RS5’s unshakeable confidence on the road is it can feel a little dull. It’s only when travelling at very high speeds on a track that you realise its limits can be reached, just not on the road without putting your driving licence in great peril. The upside, however, is it means the RS5 has huge reserves of grip and poise to help out when you need to change direction sharpish in an emergency.


As you’d expect with an Audi costing upward of £73,000, it comes crammed with all of the safety and luxury kit you could want. Audi also offers the RS5 in base, Carbon Black, and Vorsprung trims in ascending order of price. Intriguingly, the Coupe and Sportback both cost the same in identical trims, which makes the five-door hatch feel like that bit better value. 


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When so many performance cars have become brash and flash, the Audi RS5 has remained resolutely restrained. It’s a welcome approach and lets its drivers get on with enjoying their time at the wheel without unwanted attention.


You can spice things up with the colour choices of the RS5, but both Coupe and Sportback both suit discreet hues that are in keeping with the stealthy feel the exude.


Both RS5 models work as everyday cars, assuming you can afford the running costs, and they have cabins that look and feel as classy as any in the performance segment.

You cannot mention the Audi RS5 without talking about the BMW M3 and M4, and the Mercedes-AMG C43 and C63. The M3/M4 and RS5 have been doing battle for years, with the BMW usually appealing to those wanting a visceral driving experience. The Mercedes-AMG cars are brutally quick and now have four-wheel drive as standard like the Audis but are a shade more understated than the BMW contenders. Another option is the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, which is every bit as quick and thrilling as a BMW M3 but with an even more on-the-edge feel to its performance.

Comfort and design: Audi RS5 interior

“At first glance, there’s not a lot to distinguish the RS5’s interior from other higher grade Audi A5 models. Look more closely and you spot some badges, plus the unique front seats.”

Audi RS5 Review 2024: interior

Those RS super sport seats strike a great balance between all-day comfort and keeping you held in position during hard cornering. They have electric adjustment and a massage function, and they are also heated in every RS5 variant to ward off chills in cold morning starts. The seats are trimmed in Nappa leather in every RS5 model.


In the Vorsprung model, you get a panoramic glass sunroof that helps to brighten the cabin from the swathes of black leather upholstery.


The centre console is dominated by the large gear selector, but you also get a pair of cupholders, and there’s additional storage under the centre armrest, in the door pockets and glovebox.

Audi has got its cabin fit and finish down to a fine art, and the RS5’s interior is a perfect example of this. Wherever your hands or feet come into contact with the car, you can be sure there’s a quality material waiting.


This impression is furthered by the tight shut lines of the interior surfaces where they join and the positive click provided by the buttons when operated.


By today’s standards, there possibly too many buttons in the RS5’s driving environment, but it is simple to work out each control does without being distracted from the road ahead.

As well as the 12.3-inch Audi Virtual Cockpit main dash display, which can be configured in a number of ways to suit the driver’s information needs, the RS5 comes with a 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen.


The screen can be worked with a finger. Sadly, the rotary controller just in front of the gear selector is no longer fitted to the RS5. This control made it easier to use when driving as you didn’t have to lean forward to reach the screen display and hope you press the right icon when driving on bumpy roads.


Audi has mounted the screen on top of the dash, so it doesn’t feel as integrated as some of its more recent models. It comes with some RS-specific information such as engine power, G-force, and on-track performance. Fun, but not that necessary.

The boot in the RS5 Coupe offers up 410-litres of luggage capacity, while the Sportback ups that to a generous 465-litres. Both offer the chance to extend carrying ability by dropping the rear bench to leave a flat floor.

Handling and ride quality: What is the Audi RS5 like to drive?

"It can take a while to pin down exactly what the driving talent is with the Audi RS5. It’s not as up and at it as a BMW M3 or M4, nor is it as raw as an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. Then it clicks – the RS5 is an extremely quick GT car."

Audi RS5 Review 2024: dynamic driving

This is not to underestimate the RS5’s superb handling and huge reserves of grip even on slippery, wintry roads. In fact, it’s these talents that demonstrate how good the RS5 is as a GT for all occasions as it can cover large distances in comfort and never put a foot wrong.


You can nudge the RS5 into a more sporting vibe using the Drive Select button on the dash, which offers a range of driving modes. The Audi RS5 also has a sport differential that makes sure none on the engine’s considerable power is lost through spinning wheels.


It all adds up to a package that is easy to live with and makes you smile at your decision to go for the Audi about 98% of the time. It’s only on the rare times when you have an empty, twisting road in perfect conditions will you suspect an Alfa, BMW or Mercedes might be more fun.


That fleeting feeling comes form the RS5’s steering not giving quite as much detailed feedback as its rivals and the handling being great but not as agile as that of an M3 or M4. Still, the flipside is the Audi has a very absorbent ride for daily driving even on 19- or 20-inch wheels depending on which version you choose.


When it comes to pulling up in a hurry, the RS5’s braking system is flawless, giving loads of power and maintaining the car’s stability even on rough surfaces.

Whatever your feelings about the previous RS5’s rev-forever 4.2-litre V8, the latest car’s twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 is a brilliant engine.


Start it up and the V6 makes a discreet burble that’s just enough to let you know there’s plenty of power waiting to be unleashed when you want it. It pulls aways smoothly whether you need to crawl through town or blast up to motorway speeds, all assisted by the excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox that is standard in all RS5 versions.


Choose the sportiest setting in the Drive Select modes and the exhaust emits a deeper growl with an added crackle as you lift off the throttle. However, in daily driving the engine is a real smoothy.


All of the motor’s power is corralled through the Quattro four-wheel drive system, so not a drop is wasted in wheel spin and it all goes towards making quick progress when you want to.


It’s not as powerful as some engines in this select corner of the market, with the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio offering notably more punch. However, you won’t find anything to complain about in the RS5 when it can cover 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds and romp on to 155mph, where it is electronically capped. Choose the Vorsprung model and that limiter is raised to 174mph.

Cruising around town or along the motorway, you will be hard pressed to tell the RS5 is not one of its humbler stablemates from the Audi range. That’s not to denigrate the RS5, it simply tells us this is a very refined car when driven with a modicum of restraint.


It might sit on 19- or 20-inch wheels depending on the spec, but the Audi RS5 keeps road noise at a lower level than you’ll find in its key rivals. It also eliminates wind and other exterior sounds more effectively than most, adding to the RS5’s GT credentials.


Give the engine a prod on the throttle, however, and it wakes up with a pleasingly bass growl. In the sport setting chosen through the Drive Select button, the exhaust also develops a naughty crackle when you come off the throttle, so there is a little devil inside the RS5 when you want to have fun.

The Audi RS5 has not been tested by Euro NCAP, but the A4 saloon has been and it shares a good deal of its structure with the Coupe and Sportback models. The A4 scored a full five-star rating, so the RS5 models will be similarly robust in a collision.


Every Audi RS5 version comes with ESP traction control and ABS anti-lock brakes, as well as lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, and a driver fatigue alert.


Audi also fits the Audi RS5 with its Pre-Sense City system that can spot potential hazards and obstructions to warn the driver. If the driver doesn’t respond, the automatic emergency braking comes into play to stop the car.


On top of that, the RS5 has six airbags, all-round parking sensors, cruise control with speed limiter, and blind spot monitor. It also has Isofix child seat mounts in the back seats, reversing camera, and automatic lights and wipers.

MPG and fuel costs: What does an Audi RS5 cost to run?

“Drive the Audi RS5 with a degree of moderation and it can be no more costly to fuel than many less powerful cars.”

Audi RS5 Review 2024: dynamic driving

Combined fuel economy of 30.1mpg at its best is not the stuff of company fleet managers’ dreams, but it’s more than decent for a car of this performance and power. It’s also realistic in daily use, especially if you spend plenty of time on the motorway in your RS5. In more mixed driving, you can expect around 25mpg.


If you opt for the Vorsprung model on 20-inch wheels, the combined economy dips to 28.5mpg, and its carbon dioxide emissions are a little higher at 224g/km compared to 214g/km for other models on the smaller 19-inch wheels.

Audi might not have the golden reputation for reliability that its image always suggests, but the RS5 has a good track record for durability.


A three-year, 60,000-mile warrant is standard, and owners can extend that to as much as 90,000 mile and five years. Audi also offers fixed price servicing deals to help offset regular maintenance costs.


As a high performance car, you can reckon on the RS5 getting through pricey tyres more often than a standard executive saloon. When it gets round to changing oil and brake pads at services, these will also cost more than for a standard saloon or hatch.

The lowest insurance group for the Audi RS5 is Group 42, which puts it three groups lower than the best a BMW M3 can muster.


If you opt for the top spec Audi RS5 Vorsprung, it’s in the higher Group 47 with a consequent jump in premium to pay. Even so, that’s still lower than the Group 48 a Mercedes-AMG C63 resides in.


None of these cars are cheap to get cover for, but it comes with the territory of higher performance models and is unlikely to unduly concern anyone looking at an RS5 or its rivals.

At current rates at the time of writing, an Audi RS5 customer will be picking up a Vehicle Excise Duty tab for £1565 to cover the first-year road tax bill.


As the Audi RS5 costs well in excess of the £40,000 threshold for the additional £390 supplemental road tax cost, you will need to add that into your spreadsheet of costs. This fee also applies in the subsequent five years in addition to the standard £180 road tax charge.


It won’t come as a shock to learn the RS5 also sits in the 37% bracket for company car Benefit in Kind payments based on its emissions.

How much should you be paying for a used Audi RS5?

"This generation of Audi RS5 has been around since 2017, so there are more in the used market than you might first suspect. Finding one from £40,000 should present no problems."

Audi RS5 Review 2024: static on location

At that level, it will be a six-year old RS5 without around 40,000 miles on the clock and come from Audi’s approved used stock to give you peace of mind when buying.


As the RS5 comes in a single mechanical specification, your choice is down to whether you want the Coupe or five-door Sportback. There’s a steady market for both versions and, because new prices are the same for both, used prices are also much the same. However, there marginally more Sportbacks on the market, giving you a slightly broader choice of cars.


The other decision you can make is trim level, with a choice of base, Carbon Black or Vorsprung models. Given the base model is already well kitted out, we wouldn’t pay more for the others unless you are very keen on the spec of an individual car for sale.

The specifications for the Audi RS5 are the same whether you choose the Coupe or the five-door Sportback.


All have the mighty 450PS V6 twin-turbo 2.9-litre engine plus eight-speed automatic gearbox. The standard model gets 19-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels, Audi Matrix LED headlights, dynamic front and rear indicators, an RS exhaust system and RS sports suspension. It also has the Audi Virtual Cockpit digital instrumentation display, 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Audi Drive Select driving modes, and Audi Beam RS logo puddle lamps.


On the inside of the base RS5, if that’s what you can call this model, there are RS sports front seats, Nappa leather upholstery, climate control, electric seat adjustment, pneumatic massage function, and heating for the front chairs.


Carbon Black models get a more menacing look, with gloss black 20-inch Audi Sport alloy wheels, black badging and other black exterior details. There are also carbon twill inlays inside the car.


Vorsprung models top the line-up and come with the full black styling pack, along with a panoramic sunroof, Audi laser lights, the Driver Assistance Tour Pack, and Dynamic Ride Control. Inside is a head-up display and coloured LED interior ambient lighting. The Vorsprung is also derestricted, providing a top speed of 174mph – where conditions and the law allows, of course.

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

The Audi RS5’s 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine uses two turbos for a couple of reasons. Firstly, using a pair of turbos allows the motor to develop more power from a smaller engine size, which makes it more fuel efficient and produce fewer carbon dioxide emissions than the previous V8-powered RS5. The other reason is one turbo comes into play before the other, so there is no delay in the power delivery.
Audi has made the RS5 as resistant to theft as any modern car can be. It comes with a sophisticated alarm to make it all but impossible to drive without the car’s key. There are also anti-theft wheel bolts fitted, so those handsome alloys should remain in place. However, there isn’t a standard tracking device included with the RS5.
Every Audi RS5 comes with Quattro four-wheel drive as standard, which gives the car superb traction on wet and cold roads. It’s not an off-roader, but with winter tyres fitted the RS5 will cope with slippery conditions better than most of its main rivals.

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