I always look forward to testing an RS Audi, nine times out of ten you’re it’s a satisfying experience. So when I got the word that I would be taking the 2021 RS5 for a review, I did get a wee bit excited. This excitement had its brakes put on it once I learned that the RS5 was a 4 door, and not a coupe. Right now there does not appear to be the option to buy the coupe in New Zealand, but hopefully this will change.

Where there once was a RS5 with a V8, it’s now a twin-turbo V6. These new engines are very impressive but can lack in some areas, like sound, leaving a European autobahn monster sounding like a wound-up hot hatch. Sound has changed over the years too, less from the engine and more from the exhaust or even speakers. With the latest news from Audi, stopping all petrol engine development for all of their vehicles. Are they changing with the times, faster than their customers are?

what’s In The 2021 Audi RS5 Range?

The Audi RS5 currently is available in only one variant, the Sportback. This MY21 RS5 Sportback starts at $157,900 excluding on-road costs and extras.

The power plant behind the RS5 is also shared with the RS4. It is a 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo TFSI engine with quattro permanent all-wheel drive. This engine produces 331kW of power (450hp) and  maximum torque of 600Nm between 1900 and 5000 rpm. This allows for a top speed of 250km/h,and propels this 4 door sportback from 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds. The advertised combined fuel consumption is 9.2l/100km. 

The RS5, as you would expect with such a price tag, comes with a long list of standard features that include: privacy glass, RS sports exhaust system, tyre pressure monitoring, park assist with parking aid plus, lane change assistant, 360-degree cameras, Audi active lane assist, Audi Pre-Sense rear and basic, hold assist, head-up display, Audi adaptive cruise control, ambient lighting pack, Matrix LED headlamps, RS sport suspension plus dynamic ride control, Audi drive select, electromechanical power steering, Quattro with self-locking center differential, 3-zone climate control, heated front seats, Bang & Olufsen sound system, Audi virtual cockpit and Audi Connect navigation & infotainment.

There are 8 colours to choose from; 5 metallic, 1 pearl effect and 2 solid finish. Our review car was optioned with the Daytona Gray Pearlescent finish. It was also optioned with the appearance package, carbon/glossy black, which changed all the aluminum to carbon or gloss black for $13,000 extra.

It also comes standard with 20-inch forged alloy wheels, 5-arm flag style. There are 3 additional wheel options that are $1000 extra, and a bronze matte option that is $6400 extra. Our vehicle was spec’d with the Audi Sport cast alloy wheels, 5-segment-spoke Evo style, Glossy Black for $1000 extra.

Interior leather packages come standard with honeycomb stitching, in 3 different options: Black with express red dashboard, black with rock gray dashboard and silver moon, with a silver moon dashboard. You are able to add to this with a red or gray RS styling package for $4,300. This adds black seatbelts with red or grey edges and upper and lower interior elements with controls in alcantara/leather.

From what we could see with the options spec’d on our review car, this RS5 would retail for $175,700 plus on road coats.

For a full list of features and optional extras follow the link to Audi New Zealand’s website.

First Impressions Of The 2021 Audi RS5

Obviously the RS5 sits between the RS4 and RS6, however the looks are more subtle than either model. Its style still speaks to aggressive performance while being an understated 4-door grand coupe. 

Like the RS6 we recently tested, this RS5 was also in Daytona Grey. It’s a good colour selection to showcase its lines, highlighted by the black trim areas in the front and rear bumper. However it’s still a rather safe colour. Unlike some of the colour options available for the RS Q range, the RS5’s exterior colour options are limited and lack outside-the-box thinking. This RS5 was also spec’d with the black evo style wheels which complimented it well.

I got the key in hand and it was time to take this beast on the road to see what the latest RS5 is like to live with. 

What’s The Interior Like On A 2021 Audi RS5?

I was disappointed to see that this new RS5 was not as well-appointed or modern as last year’s new RS6. It’s like they went back in time a bit, using the dash-mounted screen as opposed to the dash-integrated one in the RS6. The seats were the same and the rest of the cabin was up to date. This would have frustrated me if I just purchased a new RS5, to find the now older but latest RS6 is nicer. 

Thankfully the seats had not changed, as they are really nice – the honeycomb pattern across them just oozes luxury. This is what you want to see from a luxury performance car, materials and designs not found in your everyday runabout. These RS seats are great, the right amount of cushioning and side support. The adjustable leg rest is always a nice touch too, great for taller drivers.

Room in the back seats is good, I’m a tall guy and I could sit behind my driver seat position comfortably. We also have our baby seat in the back, which again had loads of room. I did find the sloping roof a bit of an issue for my height though, both for getting myself in and out and for getting my daughter in and out. After a week of this with a 3-year old, I would think strongly about getting one of these cars if you have a young family. The sloping roof makes it harder than it needs to be with kids. My daughter is at that awesome stage where she wants to do everything herself, while not being able to do everything herself. So she wanted to climb into the seats on her own. We did move the front seat forward a bit to avoid the kicking feet, but there was plenty of room to do this, leaving the front passenger in a comfortable position.

The driver’s display and HUD were great and just the same as in the new RS6. I had the same thoughts with this one too, more info on the HUD when in standard drive mode, as it only showed the speed. This may have been an option deep in the menus, which I was not able to find. Once in any of the sport modes (RS1 or RS2) the HUD and driver’s display changed over to a futuristic and racy rpm graph, with a g-force meter and power/torque percentage gauges. The driver display can be changed from a standard drive mode, which displays two regualr gauges, with a large multi functional space in between them. To something a bit more game or futurreistic, with graphs and scales to represent the gauges and readings. 

The sound system was a bit underwhelming much like the RS6, it didn’t sound any better than many of the cars we tested, good range, good clarity, an all round ok system. However in this price tag I would expect to see something a bit better. With most top spec Audi’s you can option them up, so if you are after something special you can upgrade to the Bang & Olufsen advanced sound system with 3D sound. My thought on this is that an RS model should have really good equipment, which can then be upgraded to amazing equipment. 

The boot was a good size, bigger then you would expect it to be for the shape of the vehicle. The large hatch style boot lid gives you a very large opening, which makes it flexible for putting all sorts of things in the back. You still have that sloping back, so you have to remember this when carrying large or box shaped objects, not as practical as a wagon I felt. 

Unlike the RS6, in the boot of the RS5 has a small parcel tray, which you can remove if required, but the second half of the shelf is mounted to the door itself. There was a small cubby to the left side of the compartment and plenty of tie-down hooks for anchoring loads.

What’s It Like To Drive An 2021 Audi RS5?

For those who are used to Audis, the Quattro system is hard to beat for safety and confidence on the road in any conditions. If you are not used to it, it’s a system that acts much like a guardian angel. It will never make its presence known aggressively, it is something that sits behind you making sure that your everyday driving technique will never get you in any trouble in almost every condition. 

The new RS5’s steering is a lot lighter than the previous models, electronically controlled steering is effortless, and you don’t have to work the wheel. It goes where you want it, allowing you better control in the corners. It’s really accurate and fine tuning your position is effortless. 

The ride in the RS5 is perfect, being a long and low car the weight distribution feels really nice. Even in comfort mode there is not a lot of body roll, which makes the car feel really planted. That’s one thing I have always loved about RS Audis, you feel very connected to the road and never struggle to place the car just where you need it.

Let’s get the awkward part out of the way, the noise, or lack thereof. There will be plenty of people rolling their eyes at this, but this is how I feel about it. I am not against more efficient engines, but I also don’t buy into the view that cars are the main problem. That’s a bigger issue, and for another time, but what I would like to keep seeing is big powerful engines being available. Their recent lineup of V8 Audis are far more efficient the days gone by, so why not have them as an option for those who want to pay for more for it. It would be great to be able to have the same V8 the RS6 has in the RS5. The V6 just does not have the capacity to showcase what a high-performance muscle car the RS5 is. Yes it is fast, but it sounds wrong. It’s like looking at an opera singer and having a child’s voice come out when they sing, it doesn’t fit…. 

The acceleration of the new RS5 will not disappoint you in any way. It can only leave you with a big grin on your face as it flings you and the vehicle towards the horizon. With the pedal to the floor, your body is forced back into the seat faster than you would expect it to be doing a 0 to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds. This is one area that the new sound does have an effect, but in a good way. The car does not sound like it’s going as fast as it is, which makes the experience feel like you’re moving quicker. I know that’s a weird thing to say, but this car is a rocketship. 

Much like the RS6 the RS5 has the Standard drive mode, Sport mode and the two RS modes. For a quick change into sports mode, all you need to do is pull back the T-bar gearstick and it goes from D to S, same again to go back into D. Due to the performance of the car you tend not to use that feature much. For most of my time behind the wheel I kept the car in RS1 mode. 

RS1 and RS2 are the two custom modes available, where you tweak an array of settings, engine, gearbox, suspension, driver assist and exhaust. Once configured, these are selected  using the central console or the preferred method: the RS button on the steering wheel. Having two options allows you to set them in the way you like them. For example, you could have RS1 setup for city driving, where the car sounds louder but is still in the comfort suspension setting. Then, RS2 could be set up as the ultimate track mode with everything set to 11. So instead of many sub menus selecting all the options, you just have one quick select button on the steering wheel.

The brakes on the new RS5 were nothing to write home about, they just looked like a good set of vented performance brakes. And that they were. Once you get used to the feel of them you are able to feather them in using just enough brake for the situation. In some performance vehicles the brakes can come on too quickly or aggressively, the feel of the brakes from the RS5 were rather nice.

It’s not an area we like to talk about for high performance vehicles, but with today’s environment we have to mention it. The advertised consumption from Audi is 9.2 L/100km. Before testing the car I would have been able to place a solid bet that we would not have reached that. And we didn’t, over the course of the week we averaged 13.9 L/100km. Its more then the Fred got in his recent review of the 2020 Audi RS4. It sounds like a lot, but it’s really not considering what this engine delivers. Anything more than 15 L/100km would have been a concern but this is in line with other cars of this calibre and how you end up driving them on a day to day basis.

What’s The Competition For The 2021 Audi RS5?

I will be honest and say that the RS5 is a great looking car, but I just can’t see why I would personally buy it when you have the other options available like the RS4 and RS6. Both to me seem more practical. But that being said there are still many options for this style of vehicle if it’s your must-have shape.

Brand / ModelEnginePower kW/Nm0-100km secondsFuel L/100kmBoot Capacity LitresPrice
Mercedes-Benz AMG GT 533.0-litre V6 Twin Turbo320/5203.310.4456$240,900
Porsche Panamera3.0-litre V6 Twin Turbo243/4505.68.6500$193,900
Porsche TaycanElectric Motors300/n/a3.8n/a366$173,900
Mercedes-Benz CLS 4503.0-litre V6 Twin Turbo270/5004.78.7336$162,600
Tesla Model SElectric Motorsn/a2n/a495/150$159,990
Audi RS53.0-litre V6 Twin Turbo331/6003.89.2465$157,900

What’s The Pros And Cons Of The 2021 Audi RS5?

Slick, aggressive styling
Lot of power from the turbos
Those wheels
Yup, it’s fast
RS buttons
Engine startup
Smooth and comfy ride
Great build quality
Beautiful handling, quattro
Fine quality, luxury interior
Tech level and safety features
Good boot
Engine and exhaust sound
Double glazing muffles engine noise
Fuel consumption
Auto Stop/Start sensitivity
No coupe variant

2021 Audi RS5 Sportback – Specifications

Vehicle TypePerformance Sportback Coupe
Starting Price$157,900
Price as Tested$175,500
Engine4.0-litre petrol twin-turbo V6
Power, Torque
TransmissionEight-speed tiptronic
Spare WheelNone, Gel puncture kit
Kerb Weight, Kg1,707
Length x Width x Height, mm4723 x 1861 x 1371
Cargo Capacity
Fuel tank capacity
Fuel Economy
Advertised Spec – Combined – 9.2
Real World Test – Combined – 13.9
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Towing Capacity
Kg, unbraked/braked
750 /1900
Turning circle, metres12
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
Warranty5 year warranty
ANCAP Safety Ratings5 Star
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It started at a young age with bedroom posters, the Countach of course. This slowly grew into a super car die-cast model collection, fifty five 1:18 models at the last count. At which point it had almost taken full control, the incurable Mad Car Disease ran deep though my veins all the way to the bone. And things for my loved ones just got worse as the cars where now being bought at 1:1 scale, after a BMW, HSV, and couple of Audi's, the disease reached my brain, pushing me over the edge and down the rabbits hole into the world of the bedroom poster.
<!-- wp:paragraph --> <p><strong>Summary</strong></p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --><!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>The RS range is a Jack of all trades, while really being a master of none. I can say this with a fair amount of confidence as I have owned two different RS6 spanning a period of 8 years. If you want a sports car, go get one. But if you want a car that is somewhat like a sports car and more practical than one, the RS5 is a serious contender.</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --><!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>As far as style and looks go, the RS5 has it in spades. Long sleek coupe styling, big alloy wheels, aggressive front end and sporty rear. The inside is first class, with luxury seats and a spread of the latest automotive technology. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --><!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>The RS5 can do it all, from the daily driver, family car, luxury limo and track car. Its everyday persona is civilised enough that anyone could drive it. When you change over to one of the RS modes, everything changes. Its performance is unquestionably impressive, so quick and aggressive. It feels like it wants to be at the limit all of the time, regardless of where you are. Handling is second to none, thanks to Audi’s legendary Quattro system. There won't be many environments that it can't handle on New Zealand roads, all the while leaving the driver feeling confident behind the wheel. </p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --><!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>My only real gripe about the RS5 is how it sounds. Maybe it's a generational thing, but for me the RS4, 5 and 6 should all sound like premium european muscle cars. The shift to a smaller engine has taken something away from it, that deep high performance rumble. This has now been replaced with something that is not too dissimilar to the sound of tuned boy racer cars, something I would prefer a $157,000 Audi not to sound like.</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph --><!-- wp:paragraph --> <p>Besides my personal feelings about the sound, the rest is an impressive package. If you have the time, test one and see what it's all about. You won't be disappointed.</p> <!-- /wp:paragraph -->2021-audi-rs5-sportback-car-review-rocketship


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