By Micah Muzio
Imagine the Audi A5/S5 mid-size coupe platform. Now, magically swap in a 450-horsepower V8, an advanced all-wheel-drive system and, while you're at it, swap out most of the exterior body panels with racier replacements. Do all that and what you have is the very real 2013 Audi RS 5, a top-tier performance coupe built to compete with the BWM M3, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG and Cadillac CTS-V coupe. You'll pay plenty for the privilege, but buying an RS 5 guarantees livable street manners, racetrack-worthy performance chops and envious glances from passersby. For those craving all that and the open-air experience of a convertible, the RS 5 Cabriolet has arrived to scratch that itch. If Audi's R8 supercar is a bit out of reach, consider the RS 5 as a worthy, comparatively-affordable stand-in.
Lots of cars go fast but the Audi RS 5 does so with style – modern, athletic, refined style. The RS 5 also avoids the rough-edged intimidation factor found in some of its competitors. Simply put, the 2013 RS 5 is docile enough to let you explore its performance potential free from fear or intimidation.
At roughly $8,000 more expensive than the BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, the RS 5's main shortcoming is price. The most rabid driving enthusiasts might also bemoan the lack of a manual transmission and the RS 5's all-wheel-drive system, whose traction-maximizing abilities also put the kibosh on fun, tail-sliding shenanigans.
The RS 5 is an all-new model for Audi. The car was introduced as a coupe, followed soon after by a cabriolet version.
Driving Impressions What good is power if you can't use it? That's the general philosophy behind the 2013 Audi RS 5. 450 horsepower might sound intimidating, but all that power is routed...to the ground via Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system, which lessens wheelspin by actively apportioning torque front to rear as traction demands/allows. This rendition of Quattro also includes a torque-vectoring rear differential, which can overdrive the outside rear wheel to keep the RS 5 pointed where you want when powering out of corners. Among the Audi RS 5's ample dynamic charms are abundant lateral grip, powerful brakes and slightly numb but precise steering. Lacking modern magnetic dampers, the RS 5 makes do with a single suspension setting that manages to work well on the track without feeling overly harsh on the street. The cabriolet loses little in terms of performance for its drop-top distinction. It hits 60 mph in 4.9 seconds vs. the 4.5 of the coupe, and retains a top speed of 174 mph.
HIGH-REVVING V8 ENGINE
A torque rating of 317 lb-ft might seem underwhelming for such a performance-oriented car, but the RS 5's V8 compensates for its unremarkable grunt with plentiful revs. Redlining at 8,500 rpm, the V8 achieves peak horsepower and auditory potency when spinning in the lofty end of the rev range.
BREMBO BRAKES WITH WAVE-LIKE ROTORS
Look past the stock 8-piston Brembo front calipers and you'll notice 14.4-inch front rotors with an odd wavy edge. Previously only found on motorcycles, this peculiar disc design sheds vital pounds of unsprung weight, improving performance. Oh, and they look pretty cool too.
Building on the already attractive interior found in the Audi A5/S5, the 2013 RS 5 ups the sporting pretense with a flat-bottomed steering wheel, carbon fiber trim, comfortable but supportive sport seats, and redesigned, light-looking door handles. Racy details aside, the well-appointed interior is perfectly spacious for those in the front seats, while the two rear seats are cozy but tolerable. For weekend getaways or track-day outings, the 12.2 cubic-foot trunk happily holds plenty of gear. The RS 5 Cabriolet's folding roof takes up only 2.12 cubic feet of trunk space, and the convertible's interior leather is pigmented to reduce heating by sunlight.Exterior
The differences might not be glaringly obvious but the Audi RS 5 coupe shares only a hood, roof and doors with its A5/S5 siblings. Elsewhere, a retractable rear spoiler has been added, fenders have been flared, air inlets enlarged, and the ride height dropped by nearly an inch, imparting the RS 5 with a visual presence that eclipses the already gorgeous A5 and S5. The RS 5 Cabriolet is striking and svelte with its black fabric roof folded and, just as impressively, it maintains strong coupe lines when the top is up.
As Audi's range-topping mid-size coupe, the 2013 RS 5 naturally comes well equipped with 3-zone automatic climate control, Nappa leather, 12-way heated front seats with driver-side memory, rear parking sensors, adaptive xenon headlights, and a big glass sunroof on coupe models. Cabriolet variants feature a cloth soft top that opens in 15 seconds and closes in 17 seconds, each at driving speeds up to 30 mph. Nineteen-inch alloy wheels fitted with 265/35 performance tires come standard on both models.
Audi's multimedia interface (MMI) and a 6.5-inch screen come standard, but navigation is an added-cost option in the RS 5. Other potentially worthwhile add-ons include a 14-speaker, 505-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system, adaptive cruise control, a backup camera, a blind-spot warning system, and pricey $6,000 ceramic front brakes. For added comfort amid a wide range of outside temperatures, Cabriolet models can be fitted with neck-level heating vents and climate-controlled seats.
Use the vehicle's launch control system and you'll be treated to a glorious V8 growl as well as 0-60 mph acceleration in about 4.5-seconds (4.9 for the cabriolet). The 4.2-liter naturally aspirated V8 sends its 450-horsepower output to the Quattro all-wheel-drive system via a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. The lack of a manual transmission option might disappoint some but there's no denying the excellence of the RS 5's 7-speed dual-clutch. It shifts quickly, offers more throttle precision than a traditional automatic, and it frees your left leg from tedious clutch work during morning commutes.
450 horsepower @ 8,250 rpm
317 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23 mpg (coupe) 16/22 mpg (cabriolet, estimated)
The Audi RS 5 coupe has an asking price of $69,795, making it roughly $8,000 more expensive than its key competitors, the Mercedes-Benz C63 and BMW M3 – both highly-capable performers in their own right. The RS 5 Cabriolet starts even higher than its hardtop counterpart, at $78,795. The RS 5's higher price is somewhat offset when you factor in the gas guzzler tax that the Audi manages to avoid, but which adds an extra $1,300 to the BMW and $1,700 to the Mercedes. Add all the options and it's possible to build a nearly $90,000 2013 Audi RS 5 coupe and even higher-priced convertible variant. As for residual values, the Audi A5 and S5 both hold their values well over time, a trend we expect will continue with the RS 5.
By OberstB (PA) on Thursday, February 28, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 1,480overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Drop dead gorgeous and a religious experience"
Cons: "Do your back a favor and stay on smooth pavement"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I got the car in December to replace my much-loved 2010 S5, following three previous A6s, two of which were 4.2 liter V-8s. The RS5 is an order of magnitude better than the S5, from the sheer power to the way it handles; indeed, with the new electric steering I find myself looking for 90 degree turns because they're so much fun: who knew? One of the packages I selected had adaptive cruise control, which I wouldn't have picked on its own, but have learned to really appreciate on turnpike driving. It works better than advertised and saves constantly tapping the brakes when someone decides to slow down or pull in front of me w/o bothering to signal. Do yourself a favor and spring for the $1k sports exhaust. If you do, you'll never have to take a Prozac - just park in the driveway and rev the engine. Even better, the system blows the exhaust every time you downshift. I plan to keep this one and drive it until my reflexes die. Can't wait until spring."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Ali (WI) on Thursday, February 21, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,100overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Cons: "Dealer unfamiliarity"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The best DD sports car for all weather conditions. Drives in snow like 80 mph, show me another sports car that can do that. Ali"
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By RS5-Blah (CA) on Saturday, February 16, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,200overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handles great, looks amazing..."
Cons: "More problems then an Ex-Wife / Electrical Issues"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"The car has electrical problems that Audi cannot fix nor did they know that it existed in most RS5 vehicles. Lights flicker which is a result of a random uncontrollable power surge. The dashboard lights flicker, the dome light flickers, the outlets don't work. If you plug in any of your devices into the 12Volt outlet they short out and turn off. Audi does not know how to fix the problem even though they have replicated it in other vehicles. Every time you get in the car the radio is on at an obscene level. This also is a "feature" that you cannot adjust. Navigation glitches like it's meth addict..."
3 people out of 7 found this review helpful