A high-performance version of the 2019 Audi A5 Sportback made its global debut at the New York International Auto Show and in a departure from past practice where vehicles like this are offered first in Europe, its sales launch will be in America.

The 2019 Audi RS 5 Sportback is powered by a 2.9-liter twin turbo V6 producing 444 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. It delivers that output to all four wheels via Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system that is biased towards the rear axle and can vector torque to the rear wheel with the most grip. Audi says the RS 5 Sportback can accelerate to 60 mph in less than four seconds, has an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph that can be boosted to 174 mph with the optional Dynamic Plus package.

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“The Audi RS 5 is a completely new offer for our customers,” said Michael-Julius Renz, managing director of Audi Sport. “The Sportback offers the ultimate in functionality with maximum performance.”

Aggressive styling cues

The RS 5 Sportback is distinguished by its more aggressive nose that features a black honeycomb pattern in the single frame grille, larger auxiliary inlets for additional cooling of the high-performance engine and brakes, an RS 5 specific rear diffuser, high gloss black rear lip spoiler and a sport-tuned exhaust. The body, which is just over a half-inch wider than the S5 Sportback, features flared front and rear wheel arches to accommodate the wider track.

Inside, the 5-passenger Sportback is equipped with S sport seats, a flat-bottom, perforated leather covered steering wheel, leather covered shift knob and stainless steel pedals. Other features include Audi’s virtual cockpit digital dash with configurable instrumentation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and driver assists including blind spot and rear cross traffic monitoring, active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and adaptive cruise with stop and go traffic jam assist.

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Audi says the 2019 RS 5 Sportback will go on sale in the latter half of 2018 with pricing announced closer to its on-sale date.

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