Audi RS5 review – finally an M4 beater? - Engine and gearbox
Unfazed by all weathers, the RS5 offers huge performance and refinement, although it still wants for more character.
Yet perhaps the biggest change is to be found under the heavily creased bonnet, where the current trend for downsizing means you’ll now find a twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V6. It delivers the same 444bhp as the old car, but torque has swelled by 125lb ft to a heady 442lb ft.
There’s a new eight-speed auto that replaces the seven speed S tronic, which is claimed to shift gears as quickly as the old twin-clutch unit. On the move, drivers can choose between Drive, Sport and manual changes via the steering wheel mounted paddles.
As before, the quattro four-wheel drive system splits the engine’s torque 40/60 front to rear, but the system now reacts faster and can send up to 70 percent of the engine’s output to the rear axle in extreme situations.
There’s no doubting the V6’s effectiveness when it comes to outright performance, but it can’t match the old V8 for visceral apppeal. This is partly down to the engine’s delivery, and partly the drama-dulling effects of four-wheel drive and a slick, seamless gearchange. Also playing its part is the muted soundtrack, which lacks the spine-tingling, 8,000rpm-chasing excitement of the old naturally aspirated V8.
There’s a muted growl when you really start to work it, but it’s not a noise that has you deliberately holding onto each gear just to hear it again. You are further discouraged from doing this by the small, cheap-feeling plastic paddles on the wheel, which are a far cry from the gorgeous aluminium items on the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrafoglio.
The transmission slurs unobtrusively up the gears as quickly as possible. Yet with so much torque available at such low revs, the Audi still accelerates strongly. As a car to use everyday on everything from scarred city streets to smooth motorways, the cultured Audi is unrivalled.
Selecting the car’s Dynamic model sharpens the gearchanges, plus it adds some bass to the engine note, as well as more obvious exhaust rasp on upshifts. It also initiates a strange noise on the overrun that sounds like there’s someone trapped in the boot and they’re playing the drums to attract your attention.