2019 Audi RS 5 Sportback Preview
By Liz Kim, March 29, 2018
- All-new super performance version of the A5 Sportback
- 444-horsepower twin-turbo V6
- Unique styling features inside and out
- On sale in Summer 2018
We admit it. This one makes our salivary glands go on overdrive. Because anytime you mix gorgeous styling, increased functionality, and Olympics-caliber athleticism, you’re going to end up a winner. And while car geeks may whine for the RS4 Avant to come stateside -- station wagons are cool, for those in the know -- the rest of us can gaze upon the aggressive loveliness that is the Sportback.
Some may appreciate the svelte shape of the RS 5 coupe, we’ll take the increased functionality and passenger friendliness of the Sportback in any situation. Personally, we think it looks even better.
At first glance, you won’t notice the difference between the RS 5 and A5/S5 Sportback. But enthusiasts will note that the RS 5 sits just ever so slightly lower -- by 7 mm -- and just a touch wider, 15 mm on either side. The fenders flare out just a bit more, too.
The show vehicle at the New York Auto Show had a Gotland Green paint job, an odd choice that toned down its sinuous lines, but the gigantic 5-spoke wheels were attention grabbers. You’ll note the RS-only honeycomb air intakes, along with the front spoiler, side mirror housing composed of something called matte alu-optic.
In the back, you’ll note the unique diffuser, oval-shaped exhaust pipes, and a glossy black rear-lip spoiler.
Typical of most Audis, the RS 5 is gorgeously designed and poshly furnished with the finest materials. The RS 5 stands out with its own honeycomb-pattern leather upholstery, with the RS logo thrown around for good measure. The flat-bottomed steering wheel is draped in perforated leather, the pedals are covered in stainless steel, and carbon fiber trim decorate the environment.
The whole point of a hatchback is its increased cargo capacity, and the RS 5 Sportback delivers. Pop open the rear hatch and you’ll get 21.8 cu.-ft. of space, more usable than many SUVs as most of the space is width and not height. Fold down the rear seat and you can carry 35 cu.-ft. of your belongings.
The RS 5 Sportback gives you 19-inch wheels, but you can upgrade to 20-inch rims. Those feeling spendy can opt for the Dynamic Plus package which increases top speed from 155 to 174 mph, as well as Dynamic Ride Control that give you adjustable dampers for enhanced cornering capabilities. Stoppage can be strengthened with carbon-ceramic brake components. Although not specifically stated in official materials, we can speculate that a Bang & Olufsen sound system and a navigation system are in the offering as well.
Under the Hood:
The monster that resides in the engine bay is a 2.9-liter biturbo V6 engine that stomps out 444 horsepower and 443 lb.-ft. of torque that kicks in from 1,900 to 5,000 rpm. That down-low thrust will propel this machine from zero to 60 mph in just under four seconds. Groovy.
Power is sent to the permanent quattro AWD system through an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. Although it’s AWD, it’s rear-biased for greater performance, but a center differential can vary the power for peak traction and athleticism. You can opt for an electronic differential in the rear that provides dynamic torque vectoring, as well.
The standard suite of safety technologies included in the RS 5 include Audi pre sense basic and pre sense city -- which is to say, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection -- along with blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert, and will close the windows and sunroof and tightens seat belts if you’re about to be rear-ended.
Additionally, you can equip your RS 5 with adaptive cruise control with stop & go traffic assist, traffic sign recognition, and active lane assist, turning this vehicle into a semi-autonomous vehicle.
Apple CarPlay and Android Autos smartphone projection make interfacing with Audi’s infotainment system easy, but what really grabs your attention is Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, which is the most glorious digital gauge cluster that we’ve witnessed. Specifically for the RS 5, it’ll tell you the g-forces you’re pulling as you’re screaming down Mulholland Highway. The Virtual Cockpit, and the heads-up display, really enhance your driving experience, and how you consume the information they provide.