Audi, at the Geneva Motor Show, pulled the wraps off the hottest version of their all-new A5 range, RS 5 Coupe. We don’t think many people would characterise the high performance halfway-house S5 as lacking speed or power, but the new RS-fettled version takes it a few notches further.
Stephan Winkelmann, CEO of Audi Sport, said: “The high-performance Coupé combines elegant aesthetics with excellent everyday usability. The car’s V6 biturbo has been developed from the ground up and provides significantly more performance coupled with higher efficiency.”
It achieves this primarily through a 2.9-litre bi-turbo TFSI V6 engine that it shares with some variants of the Porsche Panamera. It’s the first full RS model since the 1999s B5 RS 4 to pack anything less than 8 cylinders pretty much locking in the next B9-generation A4-based RS 4’s powertrain spec sheet.
Standard 19-inch alloys notwithstanding, there’s plenty of sporty, more menacing exterior bits to cover that give the new RS 5 strong presence as the folks at Audi Sport GmbH wanted to incorporate some cues from the famous Audi 90 quattro IMSO GTO of the late 1980s.
Talking raw numbers, the new car’s 2.9-litre motor generates 335kW and 600Nm, which may not be a big jump in terms of power over its 4.2-litre V8 powered predecessor’s 331kW/430Nm, but it is a sizeable leap in torque (170Nm). No doubt we’ll miss that soundtrack.
The still-fast S5 Coupe generates 264kW and 500Nm from an older 3.0-litre twin-scroll turbocharged V6 motor. But that 100cc difference says nothing of the higher tolerances and efficiency innovations that the Volkswagen Group have engineered into the 2.9-litre unit, allowing it to be pushed harder and consequently winding up at the nose of the new RS 5.
As mentioned, it’s almost certain that this high-compression Miller-cycle motor, possibly in the exact same tune, will be what powers the next Audi RS 4 sedan/Avant, and there’s even chatter of it being at the heart of the next R8 supercar.
Back to the RS 5 Coupe, the engine incorporates a dual-branch exhaust manifold arrangement that allows each turbine to spool from independently from their respective cylinder bank, leading to an engine that’s more responsive from throttle inputs as well as more power being accessible lower in the rev band.
The extra punch is complemented by an improvement in fuel efficiency as Audi claims it’s able to sip as little as 8.7-litres/100km - a 5 percent improvement. The new engine is also a fair bit lighter than the proven 3.0-litre lump, an attribute matched to the car’s overall weight of 1,655kg, amounting to an overall weight reduction of 60kg over its predecessor.
Transmitting that power is an 8-speed automatic transmission that takes over from the outgoing model’s 7-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch, and from there letting the brand’s signature quattro all-wheel drive system to distribute drive to the wheels. Audi will supply a sports differential as an optional extra, as they are with carbon ceramic brakes, controversial Dynamic Steering system, and the carbon fibre roof.
Once inside, the RS 5’s cabin is as well appointed as a premium Grand Tourer should be, and Audi’s tectonic-levels of build are present here as well. The basic layout should ring a bell to anyone familiar with the B9-generation A4 and second-generation A5 as the raised controls and full-width ‘air-curtain’ front vents return here too. As expected, luxury materials such those on the optional diamond-stitched Nappa leather seats are interspersed by peppering of carbon fibre and red accents.
An Australian debut for the new RS 5 should scheduled by the end of the year.