For 2018, the new AUDI RS5 Coupe has been updated to ride on Audi’s second-generation MLB platform—the same kit serves under the A4, A5, Q7, and others—and with a twin-turbocharged 2.9-liter V-6. The V-6 takes the place of the particularly sonorous naturally aspirated 4.2-liter V-8 that served in the previous-generation RS5. The V-6 may be down two cylinders, but horsepower is unchanged at 444, and the turbos increase torque from 317 lb-ft to a far meatier 443 lb-ft and also push the output peaks further down the tach: Max power is available at 6700 rpm, 1550 lower than before, and peak torque comes online at 1900 rpm, a full 2100 rpm lower.
The transmission serves all four wheels, and while Audi slaps the label “Quattro” on a variety its all-wheel drive configurations, the one in the new AUDI RS5 Coupe is among the best. An active center differential typically sends 60 percent of power to the rear wheels, but can throw a maximum of 85 percent back there, or 70 to the front when needed. Additionally, the active, mechanical rear differential can vector all that torque to either left or right wheel, helping to drive the car through the corners. Up front is still an open, electronic diff.
Potentially delivering the best value in its class will be a host of standard features that remain optional in Germany. Previously a $6500 option, RS front bucket seats are also now standard, as is a three-spoke flat-bottom multi-function RS steering wheel.
And apart from the aforementioned RS dynamic package, standard kit will extend to LED headlights and Audi’s customisable Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster – in RS guise with power, torque, g-force and gearshift meters.
Standard safety features now include three-mode electronic stability control, adaptive cruise control with stop&go function including traffic jam assist, park assist, cross traffic assist rear, exit warning, turn assist, camera-based traffic sign recognition, Audi pre sense city (AEB) and Audi smartphone interface.
Even as the weaponized version of the A5/S5 brood, the new AUDI RS5 Coupe is easy to live with. It’s tautly suspended yet displays a supple ride quality despite its 20-inch wheels and low-profile rubber. It rides superbly in the optional active suspension’s Comfort and Auto modes, and it smoothed out heaving pavement on French autoroutes and the patched surfaces of Andorran B roads with no bobbing or bounding. Dynamic mode is for fun-time only, though, as the ride can get choppy, inducing a slight bucking during straight-line cruising on anything but the flattest pavement.