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Car review: the Audi RS5 Sportback

Audi's new RS model provides speed, power, and comfort in equal measures.

Increasingly, I’ve found that the litmus test for any continental car looking to make its mark in Singapore is not so much its acceleration times nor top speed, but its ability to turn heads. Don’t get me wrong. The spec sheets are important. So are the nuts and bolts, including the proportioned handling and the balance of the car around corners, that one can only get a feel of when one is behind the wheel.

But this is an Audi – and the Bavarian automaker knows how to make cars. It’s been doing so for over a century now, so you know what you’re getting when you slide into the driver’s seat and turn on the engine, hearing it roar to life before simmering into a gentle hum. You’ll also know that Audi cars are unassuming and elegant with a drive that matches their handsome looks, and understand that Audi cars are reliable because they are built on a historical legacy of endurance racing. And you’ll love the luxurious materials and furnishings the Audi designers have included in the cars’ interiors.

Then, there are the RS models – the high-performance cousins of their more sedate peers. The RS is short for RennSport, which is German for “racing sport”, and it shows. Audi RS-badged cars are the cream of the crop and engineered for the track. Clogged city roads are their kryptonite, shackling the unbridled power hiding beneath their RS-badged hoods. This of course leads to the occasional lurch when the engine itches to move forward but is stopped in its tracks.

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Interior of Audi RS5 Sportback

Yes, the Audi RS5 Sportback proved to be quite the surprise. A low and stiff suspension easily tackled road bumps with nary a jolt while my furry, usually boisterous barking companion slept quietly in the passenger seat on a particularly long ride, a testament to the car’s comfort. The RS5 Sportback is no pussycat though. The 2.9-litre V6 twin turbo is a capable beast, offering power and efficiency with aplomb. Switch the Drive Mode to dynamic and you’ll be able to experience the full spectrum of the TFSI engine and all of its subtle intricacies, such as its instantaneous response the moment you lightly press the accelerator.

The handling is also excellent. Audi attributes this to the engine’s ability to distribute power asymmetrically between the axles in a 40:60 ratio, which then dynamically changes according to your driving and the road conditions. Tackle a corner too aggressively and the power differential shifts to compensate for your extreme enthusiasm.

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The interior trim of the RS5 Sportback complements the quiet but assertive nature of the engine. The honeycomb sport seats, which come as standard fittings, are rendered in gorgeous, supple black Nappa leather. In fact, most of the interior is black – save for the contrasting red stitching on the steering wheel, seat belts and other small accoutrements.

Unlike its coupe cousin, this hatchback has an enormous boot space. Four hundred and eighty litres of trunk capacity mean you can store a full set of golf clubs as well as your luggage while still having enough space for a lot more stuff. Fold down the three rear sets and the capacity triples to 1,300 litres!

It is the exterior, however, that visually demonstrates the ferocity of the RS5 Sportback. Massive rear haunches hint at the power beneath the hood and the curvy lines at the side of the car that emerge like ocean waves are seductive and appealing to the eyes. The wide, flat, single-frame grille and honeycomb air intakes at the front of the car complete the masculine look.

Even my date stopped to admire the car from the front before slipping into the passenger’s seat. “Nice colour,” she said, referring to the Sonoma Green Metallic that Audi offers exclusively on the RS5. Fittingly, it’s the perfect colour for the RS5 Sportback because it’s engineered to go. And speedily at that.

 

Fittingly, a colour to match the power of the RS5 Sportback

 

The numbers

Engine: 2.9-litre TFSI V6 engine

Power: 331kW between 5,700 and 6,700 rpm

Torque: 600 Nm between 1,900 and 5,000 rpm

0-100KMH: 3.9 sec

Top speed: 250 kph

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