Motor Prime puts the RS 5 through its paces... along the way, we hook up with its grand-daddy, the Ur-quattro!
Read Motor Prime's driving impressions of the Ur-quattro HERE
Read about our first drive experience in the RS 5 at the Ascari Race Circuit HERE Read the original RS 5 Press Release HERE
Invariably, the BMW M3 (Competition Package) is the car to beat in the sports coupe segment, so it's probably with some relief that avid Audi-philes can finally welcome their challenger to the crown, the RS 5.
Unveiled with some fanfare mid-2010 at the Sepang F1 Circuit prior to its official appearance in Singapore, the RS 5 was part of a stable of Audi sportscars that the brand had available for customers and the media to sample in its natural element - the race track.
In our opinion, the Bimmer (especially with the Competition Package tha Munich Automobiles sells) is an unbridled dynamo when driven hard, but Audi pulls no punches with its Audi Sportscar Experience (normally held at the Sepang F1 Circuit in Malaysia) which gives potential buyers a chance to exploit these machines on the track.
Visually speaking, the RS 5 is a stunner, particularly with the pearl-effect of the test car's Misano Red, which incidentally includes the optional carbon ceramic front brakes. Audi's latest sports coupe is similar, yet subtly different from the S5, with the muscular new car featuring a more overtly aggressive body-kit that includes an integrated hydraulic boot spoiler.
Although this can be manually deployed via a button in the centre console, left to its own devices, it will automatically extend at a speed of 120 km/h and retract again at 80 km/h.
Probably the flashiest feather in the RS 5's cap is the propensity for most people to covet the latest toys. Its muscular form is further distinguished from the already-buff S5 sibling through subtle bulges and flares, in addition to the prominent front single-framed grille, hydraulically-actuated boot-lid spoiler and oversized oval tail-pipes. Like Audi's 'S' cars, the RS 5 also features striking aluminium-finish wing mirrors.
As a study in visual contrast, we've included its spiritual predecessor, the Ur-quattro, in our late-night soiree... just for the heck of it. In its earlier outing with the TT RS Coupe, the Ur was practically dwarfed by the modern 'compact' coupe, but with the RS 5, it's easy enough to see the evolution of this species, even if they are clearly from two different eras.
The S5 Coupe (a stonking, unpolitically-correct and vocal V8 distinguishes the Coupe from its supercharged 6-cylinder cabriolet stablemate) is an adequate starting point, although the RS 5's logical rival is the BMW M3 Coupe, which is now available with the Competition Package as standard from Singapore's 'M' vehicle distributor, Munich Automobiles.
Let's just say that as far as driving dynamics is concerned, the contender bearing the blue-white coat-of-arms offers a level of visceral thrills that sets it apart from any challenger, but BMW's popularity is a double-edged sword, since the 3 Series Coupe has become a familiar sight (some might even say, an over-familiar one) on Singapore roads.
This particular test RS 5 is equipped with all the bells-and-whistles, which includes optional snug-fit sports seats and front carbon ceramic brakes, since it is likely to spend plenty of time around the track. Rather than a full complement of ceramic brakes, the RS 5 uses regular steel items for the rear; this mixed package provides more progressive feel, especially in daily drive conditions.
The 4163cc V8 at the heart of the RS 5 is vocal and charismatic. Tuned to 450bhp and 430Nm, the naturally-aspirated V8 revs eagerly and emits a sonorous bellow on the move. It's hard to ignore the potency and urge available at the flex of the right foot when one is really pressing on.
Despite its 'RS' credentials, the RS 5 feels like more of a Grand Tourer with a hard edge that you can enjoy at the occasional track outing than a highly-strung instrument like the M3, which is not a bad thing either. Some S5 Coupe owners who had a chance to sample the RS 5 were pondering hard to decide if they could justify the SGD$80k-odd premium (new to new) over their existing cars.
The Audi's cockpit is also likely to be a big 'wow' factor to many people, since it's almost humming with the latest whizz-bang gadgets and gizmos, but do these knobs, switches and toggles detract from the driving experience, or add to it?
In any case, the colour-coded glitz suits the RS 5's character well, since it really looks good both inside and out. Ultimately, we'll let you be the judge, but there's something about the minimalist simplicity of the M3 that really appeals to us.