Audi is busy prepping three new versions of its new A5 coupe – headlined by this blistering 450bhp RS5 that arrives early next year to take on its new BMW M3 and Mercedes C63 rivals. Like all R models, the topdog A5 has been fully developed by Quattro, Audi’s in-house go-fast engineering team.
As our impressions show, the RS5 will get the full Quattro treatment. The glorious high-revving 4.2-litre V8 that powers the RS4 gets plumbed into the RS5’s nose, complete with two small and highly responsive turbochargers that will take peak power up to the 450bhp. That’s not a great deal more than the S5’s 354bhp, but the RS5 searing pace will come from its phenomenal blower-enhanced torque – expect at least 500lb ft of twist action to plateau across the rev range.
So another low-flying German missile?
You betcha. With its quattro all-paw grip, the RS5 should scrabble to 60mph in four and a half seconds and hit an easy 155mph before the electronics call it a day. Like the S5, the hot RS5 will exploit the new A5 chassis layout, which has shifted the front axle 120mm further forward for a better 55:45 front-rear balance. But don't think that the RS5 will be a mere point-and-shoot speed weapon – Quattro waved it magic wand over the RS4, and the RS5 is expected to be just as pin-sharp to drive.
To this end, the RS5’s rear-biased quattro system will give the big coupe a more neutral handling balance. To keep the RS4 on the straight and narrow and keep a tight rein on body control, it will be fitted with carbon ceramic brakes lifted from the R8, 19inch alloys, as well as modified magnetic ride dampers borrowed from the TT. All this technology and pace will come at a price – expect the RS5 to wade in with a ?53,000 price tag, in line with BMW’s ?50,625 M3.
What about the other models you mentioned?
Well, after cabriolet versions of the A5 – from 2.7-litre TDI right through to the RS5, Audi will introduce the A5 Sportback in 2010. Audi’s development team, under chairman Rupert Stadler, claims to have created a truly unique coupe-cum-shooting brake layout, complete with a practical tailgate that’s neatly integrated into the flowing bodyline.
Sleeker and sportier than, for instance, the abandoned Roadjet project, the four-door Sportback is the joint creation of chief designer Walter de’Silva, head of advanced design Flavio Manzoni, and designers Wolfgang Egger and Stefan Sielaff. It is, according to our sources, one of the most striking Audi designs since the original TT.
And stuffed full of new technology, no doubt?
Of course. This is Audi remember. The Sportback will be the first Audi to feature QTV - quattro torque vectoring. By upgrading its quattro system with additional electromagnetic clutches, QTV will work in conjunction with braking sensors to monitor steering angle, yaw rates, road speed and torque levels. It will then apportion torque not only between front and rear axle but also between left and right wheels.
Operating both under load and during throttle lift-off – arguably when the car is at its most unstable – QTV results in a more neutral cornering stance by dialing out excess over or understeer, as well as even more effective levels of traction and agility. Other packaging highlights include a multi-functional luggage cover, which also serves as wind and sun shade and a power-operated tailgate.
What about engines?
There will be a choice of three turbo charged direct-injection petrol fourpots delivering 150, 177 and 211bhp. Move up a step and there’s a 265bhp 3.2litre V6, against direct injection. And the top petrol for the moment is a 354bhp version of the naturally aspirated V8 found in the S5. Expect an RS5 Sportback to follow.
Diesel fans will be cater for with a wide choice, starting off with the familiar 170bhp 2.0-litre TDI, followed by a new 204bhp 2.0litre unit. The current 190bhp 2.7litre V6 will be dropped, and the line-up topped off by the familiar 240bhp 3.0litre variant again. A clean Bluetec diesel is also on the development board, as is a mild petrol-electric hybrid. Audi reckons that with the full A5 Sportback line-up in place, annual sales will reach 35,000.
Words: Ben Whitworth
Images: Composites : Motor Forecast