The heart and soul of the previous generation Audi RS 5 was the screaming 4.2L V8 engine. The theatre created as it approached 8000rpm was aural nirvana to any sports car enthusiast, so when news broke that the second generation would be getting a twin turbo V6, I almost shed a tear.
However, it wouldn't be all sad news. The new 2.9L V6 has its twin turbos sitting 'hot-side – inside', the 90-degree 'V' producing exactly the same 331kW as the V8 (not a coincidence I'd imagine), but it also offers a massive 170Nm torque boost with 600Nm available from just 1900rpm through to 5000rpm.
A standard RS sport exhaust system provides some crackle and pop, with some blat as the eight-speed torque converter auto rapidly up-shifts. Drive is of course via Audi's Quattro AWD system, capable of shuffling drive front to rear in varying ratios. The default is 40:60 F/R but up to 85% can go to the rear and 70% to the front.
The rear diff is a sports electromechanical unit that further distributes drive to where it is most needed. The new engine and an overall weight reduction of 60kg deliver a 16% improvement in fuel consumption and it will get from zero to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds, 0.6sec faster than the model it replaces.
Suspension is Audi's Dynamic Ride Control system with adjustable dampers. On the launch drive traversing Tasmania's west coast we predominantly used the comfort setting, which was everyday livable. A couple of stints in dynamic was fine when the road surface was good, but uncomfortable as the surface quality deteriorated. The 'hot-side – inside' turbos meant no lag – throttle response is instantaneous with the RS 5 punching out of corners at a relentless pace. Huge 20" wheels with 275mm section tyres are standard, with an optional lightweight milled wheel also available. Stopping power is provided by huge six-piston front calipers clamping 375mm rotors, while two piston calipers are fitted to the rear.
Externally the RS 5 is 15mm wider in the body than a standard A5, with bulges added to the wheel arches to allow a wider track. A bespoke single frame grille, bumper with huge air intakes either side, and a contrasting blade below the grille highlight the front. It's a look that means business. At the rear is an RS-specific diffuser insert, oval tailpipes and vertical air outlets on the outer edges of the LED rear lights, and a surface-mounted spoiler lip on the boot.
Inside it is pure Audi class – RS sport Nappa leather seats featuring honeycomb stitching, with the front pews being electrically adjustable with a massage function. An RS-specific virtual cockpit dashboard, flat-bottom multi-function wheel with shift paddles, carbon decorative trim, along with a high-end 755W Bang and Olufsen 3D sound system as part of the overall entertainment package. The RS 5 will cost you $156,600 (plus on-road costs) and according to Audi contains an additional $24,000 in value over the previous model.