Fastest Audi cars in India, part 2: The RS 5 Coupe and the S5 Sportback
For the second part of this series, we bring you some more action from the Buddh International Circuit. Starring Audi’s brawny RS 5 Coupe powered by a 2.8 litre twin-turbo V6 engine along with the subtly styled S5 Sportback packing a 2.9 litre V6. These cars make staggering 444bhp and 349bhp respectively.
The brawny dude from Audi’s R-rated club
“If you could drive just one of them back home,” I ask Aditya, “What would it be?” He hums and haws but eventually fesses up. “The RS 5.”
Can’t argue with him, though my choice is a little different and we will get to that in a bit. This is the newest in Audi’s fast-car range and boy does it look mega. Audi, it seems, is finally listening to us and while the RS 5 couldn’t be anything but an Audi it is now sufficiently distinguished from its brothers and sisters. It rocks its own unique vibe; a vibe that is all about muscle. There’s that heavily creased bonnet with the mandatory power bulge, massively muscled haunches, flared nostrils, sweet 19-inch rims with worryingly low-pro, yet achingly beautiful, rubber. It advertises its intent like fast Audis rarely did, with the obvious exception of the R8. And as we’ve come to expect of Audi, the interior is a beauty. Resist its charms? No way! Except for one thing – it doesn’t need a power bulge.
444bhp and 600Nm
The RS 5 was the last resting place for one of Audi’s most memorable engines, the 4.2-litre V8. I first experienced it on the B5 RS4 Avant, arguably the best RS car to date, a car in which I first experienced the joys of an unrestricted German Autobahn, a car that never made it to India. The engine was then dry-sumped for the very first R8 and we all know how that panned out. The unrelenting march of downsizing has however caught up and the V8 has finally bowed out, in favour of a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 developed, incidentally, with Porsche. I want to cry boo-bloody-hoo but, keeping emotions aside, the RS 5 has actually gotten better. The headline power figure is the same – 444bhp – but the torque has been upped dramatically to 600Nm and as if that wasn’t enough this engine is a fair bit lighter, putting 37 fewer kilos over the front axle. Together with the new chassis and new 5-link suspension the RS 5 now moves exactly as you’d expect a car with a power bulge to move. Bloody quickly!
“100kmph takes seven tenths more than the V10 Plus. What!?! And the shove just goes on and on. It never runs out of breath”
For all the aural, spine-tingling yowls and howls of an NA motor, fact remains that they take time to get yowling and howling. With two turbos shove is instant. That mountain of torque peaks at just 1900rpm. That’s, what, 500rpm above idling revs! I have to remind you that three minutes ago I was driving the R8 V10 Plus. Everything should be downhill now. But, bugger me silly, the RS 5 makes my eyes pop. 100kmph takes seven tenths more than the V10 Plus. What!?! And the shove just goes on and on. It never runs out of breath. True, the V8 sounded harder and faster, but get with the program. This is the future, enjoy it before EVs neuter us enthusiasts. It is also a sign of the times. Instant gratification. No waiting, no patience, twitch your big toe and, oh mummy, time to hold on. There’s quattro. Of course there’s quattro. And with so much torque you need quattro. Carry too much speed into the corner and there is understeer, that’s the safety net. Want to know how she gets into the angles you see on these pages?
It starts with trail braking
Actually it starts with a lot of corner speed, on the brakes load up the nose going into the corner and get the lightened back end to start rotating. Wait to correct it, let it rotate even more, and then as you’re at the apex apply both steering lock and gas. The mechanically-locking rear differential and torque vectoring will do the rest, spinning and accelerating the outside wheel while the fronts claw you out of the corner. Learn how to work the quattro powertrain and the RS 5 is mega, just mega.
I wouldn’t try this on the road if I were you. What you see here happens at very high speeds, the commitment levels required are way too much, and there’s no margin for error in case an idiot comes round the wrong way. Even on the track you need to be a proper race driver to oversteer it with precision and even then the comforts of the BIC’s tarmac runoffs are frequently visited. On the road I’d just marvel at the grip that is as inexhaustible and relentless as the turbo’d shove, revel in the sport-diff vectoring torque to the outside wheel on corner exits without worrying about getting crossed up.
What you can get crossed up on the road is the S5! If the RS 5 is the highlight of this story the S5 is the surprise. It’s the least powerful in this lineup. Least visually amped up. Least sportscar-y. If not for the RS 5 downsizing to a V6, the S5 would be labelled the most anaemic in the engine department too. But it is fantastic to drive.
“If the RS 5 is the highlight of this story the S5 is the surprise. It’s the least powerful in this lineup. Least visually amped up. Least sportscar-y”
It’s all down to weight, that vicious cycle. Big engine means more weight, more power means bigger brakes, all of it means fatter tyres and overcoming the grip of big 19s needs even more power, and so it goes on. The S5 has just enough. 349bhp is enough to overwhelm 255-section 19-inch rubber. Of all the cars here the S5 is easiest to get unstuck, and because it lets go at much saner (read slower) speeds than its big bros you can showboat without having to concentrate very hard on not getting into a very big accident.
The Audi S5 will also be a brilliant car on the road
The ride quality is phenomenal for what is a pretty quick car, there’s plenty of space, Audi’s cabins are great places to spend lots of time in and you will even get decent range on a full tank of petrol. As the sun sets and we realise the extent of our lateness, even Aditya admits for the mad rush to the airport, across the unbridled joy that is traffic in the Delhi NCR, the S5 is the car to take.
Stay tuned for the final part of this series featuring Audi RS 6 Avant and RS 7 Sportback Performance.