Road test – Launch of Audi RS-5 Cabriolet – 2013

Audi RS-5 Cabriolet

Audi has just launched a high performance convertible but it is not your typical soft-top based on a two seater sports car.  It’s the RS-5, an elegant, medium to large, luxury four seater.

There are a limited number of these style of convertibles which are based on a coupe version of the same model and they tend to be more grand tourer than performance beast.  Currently the most powerful Mercedes E class convertible, for example, is a V6 with 265 kilowatts.  Pretty good but not earth shattering.

And until now, Audi’s range of engines for the A5 cabriolet only went up to a 200kw V6.

But this new Audi model gets the full ‘RS’ treatment with a thundering 4.2 litre naturally aspirated V8 pushing out a plentiful 331Kw of power and 430 Nm of torque.  It is the same V8 that is in their base model of the exotic R8 sports car only with a different tune giving 15Kw more power.  It revs to a maximum of 8,500 rpm and will accelerate from 0-100 lm/hr in 4.9 seconds.

Short of going to the ultra luxury cars like Maserati and Bentley, the only other real comparison is with BMW.  The RS 5 compares with the BMW 650i 6 Series convertible which has basically the same power but significantly more torque at 650 Nm.  The Audi, however, has a cheaper starting price at a recommended retail price (rrp) of $175,900 while the BMW starts at $204,261.  On-road cost could add around $60,000.  The BMW M6 is even one step higher with 412kw of power and 680 Nm of torque but it does have a retail price figure of $238,646 with on-road coast adding around $70,000 (depending on which state you purchase the car in).

So in this rarefied field of performance cabriolets with genuine four seats, how does the Audi perform?  I have theorised about whether a car needs this much performance but as soon as I drove the Audi I could not help but savour the experience.  The engine revs freely right up to its maximum rpm and sounds magnificent.  If it is hard to find a road that legally allows you to enjoy all its power but you can still take great pleasure in its audio characteristics.  Audi does engine sounds very well.

The engine is well mated to a high-performance version of the S tronic seven-speed dual-clutch transmission which provides sharp and smooth changes.

The ride, transmitted through 19inch wheels (options of 20inch), gives very competent handling but is very firm and not well suited to the poorer sealed roads that you can find in Australia.  You can dial up three different driver modes; comfort, auto and dynamic.  Dynamic holds the transmission in lower gears and is generally more tiring to drive.  It is best suited to a tight, twisting environment.

The RS5 is a genuine rag-top although it does have additional acoustic dampening which makes it pleasantly quiet with the top up even when travelling at the higher speed limits.  One of the benefits of a fabric roof, rather than a hard top convertible, is that the roof takes up less boot space when it is opened.  With the top down the boot has a 320 litre capacity; with the top up its 380 litres and with the rear seats folded down the total space is a practical 750 litres.

The ‘5’ range of Audi models are their best looking vehicles.  The RS-5 is true to this fact.  It has a more aggressive front with a large honeycomb grille and large front air intakes down below the bumper line.  The rear is smoother in style with notable features of a small rear spoiler and dual exhausts.

Audi says that ‘individualising’ cars is a major trend.  For the RS-5 you can choose a large range of upholstery and trim features including colours, types of leather and the style of stitching on the steering wheel, gear stick and seats.

There are also a range of option packs that you can get for the car that will push it up to a rrp of nearly $200,000.  These include: bucket seats (includes seat heating);  dynamic sports package 2; dynamic steering; assistance package (adaptive cruise control + Audi active lane assist + Audi side assist); and a better sound system.

So if you can afford the price, you can look good and sit back and enjoy the sound (and I don’t just mean from the stereo).


David Brown

Twitter: @db_drivenmedia

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