They’re usually brash, brazen and (to continue this alliteration) beautifully bold. I’m on board with this. I like it when they make a statement. I love that they don’t conform to normalcy, and revel in a sense of outrageousness. You could stand by them and wonder at their impending ability to corrupt you silly. If this all sounds a bit poetic for what is essentially a series of bangs and whirs to allow you to get to point B, well, it’s not. The Audi RS5 is a one-of-one blend of outrageous and divine, and I’m about to step into it.
ENGINE 2.9L TFSI V6 TWINTURBOCHARGED
POWER 444 BHP
ACCELERATION 3.9 SECONDS 0-100KPH
The build-up seemed normal enough. A couple of calls here and there, a little pleading to the people in charge to get me the RS5 earlier than scheduled, and done. There sat 444 bhp in my driveway, ready to do its thing. There sat unwavering anarchy, except this one was dressed in red. Once again, it may seem like I’m drumming up an unnecessary sense of occasion for the RS5, but it deserves it once you’ve had a go in it. It’s unapologetically silly when you want it to be, and as relaxed as a cuppa by the ocean in the morning.
A few months ago, when I’d had a go in the S5, I feared for the upcoming RS5. I’m not stupid — of course, I knew that the RS5 would be decidedly more potent and a heck of a lot louder, but I feared for it knowing how good the S5 already was. As strange as it may sound, drafting in more power to what is already an achingly good package sometimes ruins it, and it’s precisely for this reason that I feared that the RS5 would be overdone. I desperately wanted it to be good. Better than good, really. I wanted it to make me forget about the S5 altogether and wonder why I thought it was as good as I thought it was. Then, and only then, would I deem the RS5 a crucial success. Then, and only then, would I want to make the RS5 sit up and stand perfectly next to the other two Germans that are known to be monstrously capable in this segment. But it’s much too early to bring them up. For now, very few things mattered as much as heading out and finding out if the RS5 could make me chuckle.
A couple of bikers tore past me and slowed down dramatically to get a better view. No surprises there. The RS5 scores plenty on the ‘Did They Notice?’ board. Those fantastic 20-inch wheels are a dead giveaway to what this car is capable of, anyway. But the rest of it is typically Audi, isn’t it? Sure, the grille has a few slashes extra here and there, and that RS5 badge at the back does little to protect its identity, but were it not for these few details, it would be an unremarkable sleeper. Or, well, a sleeper. But then, the inevitable happens, and you find yourself on an open stretch of tarmac. Granted, they’re rarer than anorexic bodyguards, but they’re bound to be on your way when you’re headed out of Mumbai early in the morning. And then your hand slips and engages Dynamic, and another fumble sees you knock the gear lever into manual. Then, the pretence is shed. All you can do after that is play along, and hope for the best. I know I did.
The RS5 is scandalous. It’s disruptive and loud, and about a second away from starting a fire, but the best part is that it doesn’t make you feel like a passenger. You’re not along for the ride. You’re a part of it. You’re every bit as integral as the numerous pulleys and cogs that make it scream all the way to its redline. Being that involved in an experience such as the one the RS5 provides isn’t something that I can say about a lot of Audis. But this one nails it. And then it’s hammered down for good effect.
This and a lot of other things ran through my mind that morning. And that’s another peculiar thing. A lot of people make quick cars nowadays. A lot of them do a good job of being quick, too. Very few of them allow you to revel in the experience, though. Sure, you always have more than enough time after you’re out of the car to dwell on it, but the RS5 somehow affords you a front-row seat to your own experience, and that’s a rarity.
I don’t think we celebrate that kind of rarity enough nowadays. We should. Instead of glazing over the technical aspects of the RS5, I felt it fitting that I’d rather open up about what I went through. There’s very little about the car that I feel needs changing. There’s very little that could possibly make it more communicative (and I’m not talking about what the steering tells your hands here). If this were any other car, I’d have definitely dedicated a paragraph or two about its ability to tackle corners, decimate straights, ride bumps, cool my indulgent behind and what have you.
ON THE INSIDE
Alcantara upholstery, aluminum-finished pedals, Virtual Cockpit system, updated MMI unit and park assist with rearview camera
ABS, EBD, electronic differential lock, traction control
Rs1.1 CR (ex-showroom)
The RS5, though? It deserves a bit more than that. Is it better than ever? Absolutely. Is that enough? I’m not sure, and I can’t be certain until I do the obvious and bring its two, er, buddies into the same frame. But that’s another story for another day (maybe two). The RS5, right now, to me, is a triumphant effort, and it’s one that Audi deserves tremendous praise for. Getting a 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 to hook up to a chassis as well as it’s managed is a job I definitely would never want to be tasked with. The RS5 makes for one heck of a specimen. When I got into the RS5 for the first time, I was filled with apprehension. I shouldn’t have been. It’s a solid piece of work that’s tremendously involving and unashamedly its own self. It’s never trying too hard to be something you idolise or fantasise. Manufacturers go on and on about how they set their cars up to be more like what we want them to be, but here’s the RS5, calling the shots and telling you what’s what. It’s a nice position to be in, honestly. I can say with complete certainty that I’ve come away from this with my perception of the RS5 shattered. Oh, and what S5?