Tested: 2018 Audi RS5 Coupé

The clever choice

I’ve decided to open a tyre shop which only sells 20-inch wheels. This stroke of genius, which should also be infinitely more profitable than motoring journalism, came to me while testing the umpteenth car with ultra-low profile rubber. This Audi RS5 Coupé was in a string of seven cars I tested with 20-inch tyres.

We could – and should – blame car designers for creating ridiculous sketches of cars which barely have windows, ride on 35-inch rims with rubber bands for tyres and look like they belong in a Manga cartoon. But there’s another reason why wheels are becoming more massive by the hour – performance.

Audi had to employ 275/30ZR20 rubber on all corners of the RS5 because its 2.9L turbo-petrol V6 produces up to 331kW (450hp) or 600Nm of tar-munching power. And even though it has intelligent Quattro all-wheel-drive, some of its eight gears still manage to wake the traction control and stability warning lights.

Ingolstadt claims the usual (limited) 250km/h top speed and the 0-100 sprint in less than four seconds… 3.9, to be exact. Our test car slipped under four by the silver skin of its front splitter with a best time of 3.99 GPS-verified seconds. It also went on to 400m in just 12.17 seconds at 184.90km/h.

The viciousness of launching a big coupé that quickly resulted in 1.4G’s of forward acceleration while stomping on the brake pedal from 100km/h produced 1.16G’s. The stopping distance of 36,85m is equally impressive and the deceleration feels brutal. It doesn’t look brutal, does it?

Judging by the photos, you’d expect this to a smooth but rapid performer – which it is – yet the RS5 can produce properly frightening power. If that’s what Audi was going for, then I give them eight out of ten for effort. This elegant tourer can float along quietly or tear your eyes from their sockets on a mountain pass.

I deduct a point because obviously it lacks low-speed ride comfort and minus another for the fuel consumption on any journey except a steady cruise. I found the ride too bouncy in the adaptive suspension’s “Comfort” mode and too fidgety in its “Dynamic” setting; complete with a very un-Audi like cabin rattle.

Nagging on a lower level would be the absence of seat heaters in a R1.3 million car, daunting adaptive display learning curve, pointless lap time function in the heads-up display and solid B-pillars; although those offer excellent chassis rigidity and seat-belt butlers: little arms which bring you the buckle.

Subjective plus points are this press car’s delicious colour combination: Navarra Blue metallic paint with Moon-Silver / Rock-Gray interior. Its V6 sounds great at any rev range, especially in Dynamic mode, and the audio system is just as aurally pleasing. Headlights, climate control and infotainment all get high praise, too.

I’m also in the fortunate position to have recently tested this car’s direct rivals in quick succession for the following summary. The rear-wheel drive BMW M4 is the most raw and exciting to drive while the equally-RWD Mercedes-AMG C63S Coupé feels rather lively and the brawniest of this trio.

Audi RS5 Coupé BMW M4 Coupé Competition Pack Mercedes-AMG C63S Coupé
Engine 2.9L Turbo-petrol V6 3.0L Turbo-petrol i6 4.0L Turbo-petrol V8
Max. power & torque 331kW / 600Nm 331kW / 550Nm 375kW / 700Nm
Layout (engine, drive) Front, Quattro (AWD) Front, RWD Front, RWD
0-100km/h* (claimed) 3,99 seconds (3.9) 4,52 seconds (4.1) 4.48 seconds (3.9)
400m 12,17 seconds @ 184,90km/h 12,45 seconds @ 191,85km/h 12.34 seconds @ 194.51km/h
100-0km/h** 2,99 seconds @ 36,85m 2,80 seconds @ 38,84m 2.94 seconds @ 40.59m

* best of three-four runs ** once-off brake test

In my opinion, Audi’s RS5 is the clever choice… the understated and sophisticated one. It can certainly keep the other two honest but as a friend put it rather bluntly… it’s not as embarrassing to drive as its competitors. Audi sells each one with a one-year warranty and five-year / 100,000km maintenance plan.

Naturally you also get every imaginable safety and convenience feature included in the price with little left to the options list, including two other wheel designs. Those 20-inch tyres are standard equipment though, unlucky for you but good for my new business as they currently retail for R6,000 each.


0-10km/h: 0,31 seconds
0-20km/h: 0,57 seconds
0-30km/h: 0,84 seconds
0-40km/h: 1,18 seconds
0-50km/h: 1,58 seconds
0-60km/h: 1,95 seconds
0-70km/h: 2,38 seconds
0-80km/h: 2,89 seconds
0-90km/h: 3,39 seconds
0-100km/h: 3,99 seconds
0-110km/h: 4,65 seconds
0-120km/h: 5,38 seconds
0-130km/h: 6,14 seconds
0-140km/h: 7,00 seconds
0-150km/h: 7,95 seconds
0-160km/h: 9,10 seconds
0-170km/h: 10,26 seconds
0-180km/h: 11,51 seconds
0-190km/h: 12,91 seconds
0-200km/h: 14,46 seconds

0-100m: 5,20 seconds @ 117,72km/h
0-200m: 7,88 seconds @ 149,25km/h
0-300m: 10,14 seconds @ 168,94km/h
0-400m: 12,17 seconds @ 184,90km/h

100-0km/h: 2,99 seconds @ 36,85 meters (once-off)
Maximum deceleration G-force: 1,16G


0-10mph: 0,48 seconds
0-20mph: 0,91 seconds
0-30mph: 1,51 seconds
0-40mph: 2,12 seconds
0-50mph: 2,92 seconds
0-60mph: 3,78 seconds
0-70mph: 4,84 seconds
0-80mph: 6,03 seconds
0-90mph: 7,45 seconds
0-100mph: 9,19 seconds
0-110mph: 11,13 seconds
0-120mph: 13,36 seconds

1/4 mile: 12,28 seconds @ 115,11 mph

Maximum acceleration G-force: 1,4G

Altitude: 60m

All data captured by Racelogic® Performance Box

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