2013 Audi RS 5 Road Test and Review: What Is It
Prior to 2013, the Audi S5 was the hottest version of the automaker’s sexy coupe. This year, the S5 swaps its formerly standard 4.2-liter V-8, which generated 354 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft. of torque, for the same supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 found in the S5 Cabriolet, which makes 333 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft. of torque, the latter over a lower and broader rev range. The result is a 2013 Audi S5 that is just as fast but more fuel-efficient than it was before.
The switch also created room in the A5 model lineup for the new 2013 RS 5 Coupe. The Audi RS 5 Coupe is equipped with a 4.2-liter V-8 engine, like the previous S5 Coupe, but in this application the engine is reworked to rev higher and harder, producing 450 horsepower at a lofty 8,250 rpm.
We’ll talk more about the mechanical upgrades later in the review. For now, with the introduction of the 2013 RS 5, you can rest assured that Audi has a proper alternative to other high-performance luxury coupes.
2013 Audi RS 5 Road Test and Review: Pricing and Trim Levels
If you’re thinking that a new 2013 Audi RS 5 would look swell gracing your driveway, prepare to pony up a minimum of $69,795, including the destination charge of $895. And that price is only offered for models painted Ibis White – all other colors incur an extra charge.
Our test car was dipped in Misano Red Pearl paint, and those 20-inch 5-arm-rotor design wheels are included in the Titanium Package ($2,500). In addition to the wheels, this package includes P275/30R20 performance tires, body-color exterior mirrors, a gloss black grille, and matte black window surrounds.
Our test sample also included a sports exhaust system with black outlets ($1,000) and an Audi MMI Navigation Package ($3,550) with a Bang & Olufsen premium audio system, HD Radio, Audi Connect online services with mobile wi-fi capability, and parking sensors with a reversing camera. The total tariff amounted to $77,320.
Audi could have loaded the car more stuff, starting with the black or silver crystal paint jobs ($1,075). The Driver Assist Package ($3,250) adds adaptive cruise control and a dynamic steering system, ceramic front brakes are available ($6,000), and a power rear window sunshade is offered ($350). Loaded, the 2013 Audi RS 5 rolls off the showroom floor for $87,520.
2013 Audi RS 5 Road Test and Review: What It's Up Against
The closest competitors for the new Audi RS 5 Coupe include the BMW M3, the Cadillac CTS-V Coupe, and the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe. Infiniti would like for its IPL G Coupe to be considered a member of this club, but it’s not. Rather, the Nissan GT-R is a closer match, but its priced out of contention. That leaves a trio of rude and crude domestic alternatives in the form of the Chevy Camaro ZL1, Dodge Challenger SRT8 392, and Ford Mustang Shelby GT500.
2013 Audi RS 5 Road Test and Review: Exterior
What’s New for 2013:
- New headlight design
- New LED taillight design
- Honeycomb grille insert
- RS 5-specific lower air inlets
- Power retractable rear spoiler
- Oval exhaust outlets
- RS 5-specific rear diffuser panel
- Ride height dropped nearly an inch
- Black brake calipers with RS logo
- Unique wheel selections
How It Looks:
You might just want to stick with the standard Ibis White paint for this car, because if any automobile represented the vehicular equivalent of a Stormtrooper, this is it. The RS5 looks mean, in a highly technical, effortlessly sophisticated, sinfully sensual sort of way.
As you can see from the list above, the RS 5 is distanced from the A5 and S5 models by numerous visual cues. A subtle RS 5 badge graces the car’s unique grille insert, its black-painted brake calipers have RS logos, and the RS 5 has a rear spoiler that automatically rises at 75 mph and lowers at 50 mph.
A set of 10-spoke, 19-inch aluminum wheels is standard equipment, but paying $2,500 for the optional Titanium Package just to get this sweet set of 20-inch, 5-arm-rotor rims and P275/30R20 performance tires seems worth it. The standard sport suspension drops the ride height by 0.8-inch, snugging the RS 5 down without resulting in a car that looks slammed.
2013 Audi RS 5 Road Test and Review: Interior
What’s New for 2013:
- RS flat-bottom steering wheel with perforated leather wrap
- Fine Nappa leather with Rock Gray stitching
- Carbon fiber dashboard inlays
- Lap timer is standard
- Several RS 5 logos
How It Looks and Feels:
From the moment you open the Audi RS 5’s door, you know it is a serious driving machine. The mood here is serious, but not somber, despite the black Fine Nappa leather upholstery, Piano Black accent trim, black headliner, and black dashboard. Credit the standard carbon fiber inlays and Alu-Optic detailing for supplying just the right amount of class and visual interest. And the quality of the materials is utterly uncompromised. Nobody does interiors like Audi.
The RS 5’s 12-way power sport-contoured front seats provide outstanding comfort and, for the driver, a perfect driving position behind a thick-rimmed, flat-bottomed, RS-spec steering wheel. Entry and exit are, as one might expect of a low-slung coupe riding on a lowered suspension, more difficult the older, larger, and less limber an owner might be.
As a family man, I had occasion to use the RS 5 to carry children who still require child safety seats. This is not advisable, as loading them is literally impossible in certain parking situations. Whenever the kids were aboard, the RS 5 required berthing in an end space, or a parallel space. The 12.2 cu.-ft. trunk, however, proved plenty capacious for our smaller single-seat stroller.
With the child seats removed from the car, I made an attempt at sitting in the back. Let’s put it this way. Four short people can make this car work. Tall people will take little comfort in the RS 5’s individual rear seats.
2013 Audi RS 5 Road Test and Review: Matters of Safety
What’s New for 2013:
- New Driver Assistance option package
- Sport mode for stability control system
Details and Ratings:
For 2013, a new Driver Assistance option package is offered for the A5, S5, and RS 5. It combines an adaptive cruise control system with Audi Side Assist blind spot monitoring and dynamic steering. The adaptive cruise control system operates at speeds between 20 mph and 95 mph to maintain a safe distance behind vehicles ahead. It also includes Audi Pre-Sense Front technology, as well as what the automaker calls an “enhanced braking guard” that can initiate a full vehicle stop at speeds of 19 mph or less.
Another unique aspect of the Audi RS 5 is related to its standard traction and stability control system. It is equipped with a Sport mode designed to give the car’s driver a greater performance envelope within which to play.
As this review is written, neither the NHTSA nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has performed crash tests on the 2013 Audi RS 5.
2013 Audi RS 5 Road Test and Review: Powertrain
What’s New for 2013:
- Modified 4.2-liter V-8 engine
- Self-locking crown-gear center differential
- Launch control system
- Audi Drive Select system
- Sport exhaust system
- Rear sports differential with torque vectoring
- Internally-ventilated disc brakes
- Optional ceramic front disc brakes
How Does It Go:
Developed by Quattro GmbH, the 2013 Audi RS 5 Coupe’s high-revving 4.2-liter V-8 whips up 450 horsepower at 8,250 rpm and 317 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm, generating nearly 100 extra ponies compared to last year’s S5 Coupe, but at the expense of a few lb.-ft. of twist. The lost torque isn’t missed. Audi reports that the RS 5 accelerates to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and run all the way up to 174 mph, claims we did not attempt to verify, but which we certainly believe to be accurate.
We did verify fuel economy figures. The EPA says the Audi RS 5 Coupe will get 16 mpg in the city, 23 mpg on the highway, and 18 mpg in combined driving. We averaged 18.5 mpg in a mix of city and highway travel.
A 7-speed S-tronic double-clutch automated manual gearbox is standard equipment, and the only transmission offered for the RS 5. It provides an automated Sport driving mode, and manual shifting using the gear selector or paddle shifters mounted to the flat-bottomed RS steering wheel. If you want a real stick-shift model, you’ll need to get the S5. Equipped with Launch Control technology, the excellent S-tronic is unlikely to make anyone wish for a clutch pedal.
The Quattro all-wheel-drive system includes a self-locking crown-gear center differential, and a sports rear differential with torque vectoring capability. The standard power split delivers 40% of engine power to the front wheels and 60% to the rear wheels. However, that center diff allows up to 75% of power to flow to the front wheels or 85% of power to transfer to the rear wheels, as is necessary.
Additional hardware upgrades for the Audi RS 5 include an on-demand engine oil pump, a sport suspension, a sport exhaust system, and internally vented-disc performance brakes. Standard Audi Drive Select technology modifies the RS 5’s throttle response, transmission shifting, dynamic steering, and sports differential based on whether the driver has selected Auto, Comfort, or Dynamic driving modes. An Individual mode allows the driver to tailor a specific setup.
2013 Audi RS 5 Road Test and Review: How It Drives
The thing about a car like the 2013 RS 5 Coupe, a German-bred, 4-seat, performance machine capable of speeds most people experience only on airport runways while seated in a chair far less comfortable than this Audi’s, is that its performance envelope cannot be safely explored anywhere but a closed race circuit, and its flaws are invisible unless compared directly against its primary competition.
In other words, based on our week with the RS 5, it is dynamically flawless.
We ran the car with Audi Drive Select in Auto mode the majority of the time, and used the transmission’s Sport mode for city and mountain driving, where keeping the engine ready to rev is useful and pleasurable. The few times we blasted the Audi down a freeway on-ramp, it delivered explosive power accompanied by an appropriately aggressive exhaust note with entertaining burps between upshifts. Downshifts were accompanied by rev-matching flatulence, and in Sport mode the transmission gurgled between gear changes even when loafing around town – which my wife thought was quite silly.
The RS 5, like the 2013 Audi A5 and S5, is equipped with electric steering, which offers different levels of assistance and “feel” depending on the Audi Drive Select setting chosen by the driver. In Dynamic mode, it was too stiff and artificial, and in Comfort mode, it was too light and numb. We found the steering assist level to be just right when the car was placed in Auto mode, which is one reason we kept it in this setting the majority of the time, using the S-tronic transmission’s Sport mode to sharpen performance as desired.
The RS 5’s sport suspension is miraculously adept. Firmer than what’s employed for the A5 and S5, the components nevertheless supply an unexpectedly supple ride quality without giving an inch in terms of performance. Considering the razor-thin 30-series performance tires, it is even more impressive that the RS 5 doesn’t beat its occupants with a constant barrage of jarring jolts from distressed pavement. We traveled older sections of Los Angeles city streets with more than 500 pounds of people inside, and never felt like the RS 5 – as clearly as it communicated the road surface’s war wounds – might fuse our lower vertebrae.
On our favorite back roads laced atop the Santa Monica Mountains, the RS 5 proved utterly unflappable. It was here, on narrow two-lane blacktop, where it became absolutely clear that this Audi’s prodigious capabilities couldn’t be safely explored on a public road. To make such an attempt would require a level of velocity at which any errant rock, any unexpected oncoming vehicle with left wheels over the double yellow line, or any cyclist hidden behind a blind right-hand turn would likely result in disaster. To truly experience the Audi RS 5’s limits, one must rent a racetrack.
2013 Audi RS 5 Road Test and Review: Final Thoughts
In my part of the country, wealthy car buyers will choose the Audi RS 5 not for its performance capabilities but for the fact that it is the most expensive and rarest model, and is therefore the best model, simultaneously quelling its owner’s insecurities while communicating to others a certain economic and social stature.
It is a shame that the majority of Audi RS 5 models are unlikely to be exercised, or appreciated, in the manner for which they are intended. This is a brilliant luxury performance machine.
2013 Audi RS 5 Road Test and Review: Pros and Cons
- Explosive power
- Excellent transmission
- Astounding handling and grip
- Impressive ride quality
- Decent fuel economy
- Comfortable seats
- Perfect driving position
- Beautiful design, inside and out
- High-quality interior materials
- Artificial steering feel in Comfort and Dynamic modes
- Distracting infotainment system buttons on center console
- Tight rear seat space for adults
Audi provided the vehicle for this review
2013 Audi RS 5 photos by Christian Wardlaw
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