Australians love an Audi RS car.
Of the 53 different vehicles Audi offers over 15 different model lines in Australia, no fewer than 13 of them are RS vehicles. And right in the middle of that heady bunch are the RS5 Coupe and Sportback twins.
Both the RS5 Coupe and RS5 Sportback are closely related to the RS4 Avant in terms of their mechanical hardware and general design theme, though all three cars roll on different wheelbases.
In simple terms, what that means is Audi offers the fundamentally same RS experience in three slightly different flavours – coupé, five-door hatch, and wagon.
So, it’s no surprise that both the RS5 Coupe and RS5 Sportback have been given the same late lifecycle tweaks as the RS4 Avant in the form of two new options packs designed to improve the agility of their chassis and make them feel more fun to drive.
Dubbed Competition and Competition plus, the packages have been developed around a slew of detailed chassis improvements, with a number of minor cosmetic changes included in the mix.
Two doors, or five doors? The choice is yours, and Audi doesn’t differentiate in terms of pricing, with the RS5 Coupe and RS5 Sportback each retailing for $159,600 plus on-road costs.
Package pricing for the Australian market hasn’t been revealed as yet, but in Europe the Competition package costs €7875 ($12,095), while the plus package adds €11,875 ($18,238).
That’s because you get the same mix of hardware and software. The Competition package boosts top speed to 290km/h and allows more noise from the RS sports exhaust system.
It also includes redesigned 20-inch alloy wheels that are 2kg lighter than the regular items, shod with 275/30 tyres. Ultra-grippy Pirelli P Zero Corsas are available as an option.
The plus package overlays that with some serious handling hardware, including an upgraded quattro sport rear differential, quick fixed-ratio steering, and RS sport pro suspension with coil-over steel springs on the front axle that is height adjustable and also features adjustable rebound and compression damping.
As with all performance Audis, the RS5 Coupe and RS5 Sportback interiors combine cool technical luxury with sporty touches such as carbon fibre and unique graphics for the digital instrument panel and central touchscreen.
The Competition and Competition plus packages add seat side panels in piano black and seat belts in black with red edges.
The standard RS sports seats are trimmed in a combination of Dinamica microfibre and leather stitched in the RS honeycomb pattern and embossed with RS logos. Grippy Alcantara extends onto the spokes of the steering wheel.
Though it has four seats, the RS5 Coupe is best described as a 2+2. The 61mm extra in the wheelbase of the RS5 Sportback means there’s room aboard for a couple of adults in the rear, through it’s still a relatively tight fit. That and the swooping roofline makes best for short trips only.
Like the RS4 Avant, both the RS5 Coupe and RS5 Sportback are powered by the Porsche-designed 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 that debuted with the reveal of the second-generation models in 2016.
The engine, which is also used the Porsche Panamera S and Cayenne S, as well as the Macan Turbo, develops 331kW from 5700rpm to 6700rpm and 600Nm from 1900rpm to 5000rpm and drives all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The regular RS5 Coupe and Sportback will accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds. Cars fitted with the Competition and Competition plus packages shave a tenth of a second from that number (3.8s).
That’s not because there’s more power under the bonnet. Indeed, Audi Sport engineers say there are no plans to boost the output of the engine before both cars are replaced by all-new RS5 models in 2025, because it would cost too much.
The extra urge out of the blocks is down to remapped software that delivers crisper throttle response and faster shifts from the transmission, plus the stickier Pirelli tyres and updated quattro sport differential at the rear of the car.
Audi Sport engineers created the Competition and Competition plus packages specifically to make the RS5 Coupe and RS5 Sportback feel sharper and more responsive to drive.
And, after pounding Competition plus-equipped examples of both cars around the challenging Ascari circuit in southern Spain and on the surrounding roads, it’s clear that as far as the more expensive of the two packages is concerned, they’ve succeeded.
Gone is the endemic understeer that has perennially plagued all-wheel drive Audis with longitudinal engines slung ahead of the front axle.
Both the RS5 Coupe and RS5 Sportback dive hungrily for apexes as soon as you move the Alcantara-covered steering wheel. If you need to adjust your line mid-corner, lifting off the throttle will get both cars to rotate nicely – they feel agile and alert.
The 13.1:1 fixed ratio steering that’s part of the Competition plus package is one of the quickest fitted to a current production car, so the front wheels react more rapidly to driver input.
Meanwhile the quattro sport rear differential, which uses clutches to direct most of the torque to the outside rear wheel, really helps get both Coupe and Sportback out of the corners when you go to power.
Like the RS4 Avant, neither car will execute smoky drifts like an AMG C63 with all the nannies switched off, but both feel much more like rear-drive performance cars and can be driven much more like rear-drive performance cars.
The trick height-adjustable suspension rides 10mm lower than the regular RS5 as its baseline setting. The Competition plus package comes with tools that allow you to not only drop the ride height up to 10mm more, but also independently change both the compression and rebound settings on each damper.
On the road, with the suspension in its baseline settings, the primary ride is taut and there’s a nicely precise analogue feel to the body motions.
Despite those ultra-low-profile tyres, the secondary ride is surprisingly compliant, with little impact harshness felt through the steering wheel or heard in the cabin.
For the track sessions at Ascari the Audi Sport engineers had the cars with the suspension in what they called call the ‘Nordschleife’ setting.
In addition to the dampers’ compression and rebound settings adjusted to cope with the high speeds, high kerbs, and massive compressions on the famous German track, the Nordschleife setup also includes a further 10mm drop in ride height.
All test cars also rode on the optional Pirelli P Zero Corsas specially developed for the RS5 Coupe and RS5 Sportback.
They have more rounded shoulders than the standard tyres to provide better steering accuracy and lateral support, and a grippier compound. Audi Sport says with the remapped ABS, the new tyres help reduce the stopping distance of the RS5 Coupe and RS5 Sportback from 100km/h by 2.0 metres.
Neither car has the raw thrust of, say an AMG C63 S. The 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 needs to be spinning at 4000rpm or more to deliver its best, and a big gap between second and third gear highlights the soft response in tight corners.
Nevertheless, the revised software that’s part of the Competition and Competition plus packages, means in manual mode the transmission will hold the gear you’ve selected.
The massive carbon-ceramic brakes fill the space behind the wheels, but the brake pedal could be firmer, and the engine power cutout activated by pressure on the brake pedal can be annoyingly interruptive if you’re in the habit of left-foot braking.
As in all Audis, different drive modes – Comfort, Auto, and Dynamic – are selected by toggling a switch on the dash or via a menu on the touchscreen.
Neither method is as user-friendly as the steering wheel-mounted rotating knob on an AMG Mercedes or Manettino switch on a Ferrari.
However, the RS button on the steering wheel of the RS5 Coupe and RS5 Sportback does allow you to switch more rapidly between Comfort and a sportier mode.
- Audi connect plus navigation, infotainment services
- Audi smartphone interface
- incl. wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- Audi connect plus security, assistance services
- Audi virtual cockpit plus
- Bang & Olufsen premium sound system with 3D sound
- Electric front seats incl. driver memory
- Electric lumbar, massage function for front seats
- Head-up display
- MMI navigation plus with MMI touch
- USB charging interface for rear passengers
The current Audi A5 line-up, including the RS4 Avant, is unrated by ANCAP and Euro NCAP as of January 2022.
Why? Euro NCAP and ANCAP introduced a rule that sees ratings expire after seven years or so, and the A5’s previous five-star rating (covering four-cylinder models only) wore a 2015 date stamp.
The expired rating, which applied to A5 Coupe and A5 Sportback variants, was based on category scores of 89 per cent for adult occupant protection, 87 per cent for child occupant protection, 75 per cent for pedestrian detection and 75 per cent for safety assist – keep in mind these scores were also based on older test criteria.
Standard safety equipment includes:
- 360-degree cameras
- Audi pre sense city (AEB)
- Audi pre sense rear
- Audi active lane assist
- Adaptive cruise control
- Lane change warning
- Park assist
Audi now offers a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty on the RS5 Coupe and the RS5 Sportback.
The RS 4 Avant can also be covered by a five-year service plan that costs $3240.
Service intervals are 12 months or 15,000km – whichever comes first.
Audi Sport likes to insist both the RS5 Coupe and RS5 Sportback are high-performance cars that can be used every day.
While they might not have the raw power and aural drama of, say, a Mercedes-AMG C63 S, there’s no doubt both cars are relatively smooth, quiet, and easy to live with around town, yet unquestionably fast and entertaining when the mood takes you on a quiet country road.
The Competition and Competition plus packages dial up the entertainment. Of the two, the plus package is the serious driver’s choice, as the quick steering, adjustable coil-over suspension, and revised quattro sport rear differential genuinely transform the chassis dynamics of both the Coupe and the Sportback.
The RS5 Coupe is suave and sporty, like an athlete in a Hugo Boss suit. The RS5 Sportback, a muscular looking hatchback that’s more practical and just as rewarding to drive is the more complete car – especially with the Competition plus pack.
Click the images for the full gallery
MORE: Everything Audi RS5