– When it comes to cars such as the Audi RS 5, available in Canada in both Coupe and Sportback (sedan) form, not liking them is akin to not liking soft drinks or Thanksgiving.
Surely there are a few out there who dislike these things, but I’m hard-pressed to think of anyone off the top of my head. The RS 5 has an appeal that for most is just magnetic. You see one, you want one.
And for 2023, the RS 5 packs even more appeal, as it is now available with a Competition Package, which adds a slew of chassis tweaks and cosmetic enhancements designed to make the car more track capable and more visually appealing.
For an extra $11,400 the main bits are 20-inch wheels with 275-width Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires, an optimized ECU and differential, sport exhaust “plus”, a 10 mm lower ride height with RS coilover suspension, and a slew of interior and exterior trim upgrades including a bunch of carbon bits.
While the cost isn’t insignificant, there’s a lot here, and having sampled both cars on road and track recently in the south of Spain, I can attest that the RS 5’s appeal has only been enhanced by the presence of the Competition Package. But I’ll get to that.
First, a bit more on the nuts and bolts of the RS 5 family. These cars derive from the second gen A5, which was all-new in 2016.
As the range-topping performance cars in the A5 range, the RS 5s are the most powerful. The engine, a 2.9-litre biturbo V6 also found in the Porsche Panamera, produces 444 horsepower and 442 lb-ft. of torque. The mill is paired with an eight-speed Tiptronic (automatic) transmission and Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system.
As one might expect for a premium performance car that carries a $90K-plus price tag, the RS 5 carries a lot of standard kit. Among these are standard 20-inch wheels, summer tires, RS sport suspension, Audi drive select, LED matrix headlights with laser lights, LED taillights with dynamic animators and indicators, heated front sport seats, Nappa leather seating, three-zone climate control, Audi virtual cockpit, 10.1-inch multimedia touchscreen, and a lot more.
New standard equipment for 2023 includes Fine Nappa leather seating surfaces with honeycomb stitching, Audi phonebox antenna with charging, rear-seat USB charging, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system.
On the outside, the 2023 RS 5 now comes standard with gloss black grille and window trim, black mirror covers, RS gloss black front spoiler, and 20-inch evo design wheels.
Because I reviewed the 2022 RS 5 Sportback
earlier this year I’m going to reserve most of my impressions for the Competition Package.
The track portion of the drive event was conducted at the Ascari Race Resort near the town of Ronda, which is nestled in the Andalusian mountains of southern Spain.
Ascari can be configured into several different circuits, and the one I drove is a pleasing mix of sweeping and banked turns, sharp corners, with numerous elevation changes and a long straight that’s good for getting the power down for an extended throttle blast before setting up for the next corner.
I did about five laps in a black Sportback, and a few things stand out. First, the extra suspension tuning, such as the RS coilovers, -10 mm ride height, and revised ECU mapping, really enhance the RS 5’s sporting character and overall capability.
In dynamic mode, acceleration is hair trigger, which I was expecting, but what came as more of a pleasant surprise, is how the front-end grips at turn-in and helps rotate the car rotate through corners. There’s little understeer, the car doesn’t wash out on winding, sweeper-type turns, and getting the power down on corner exit doesn’t feel squirmy.
Secondly, the recalibrated steering provides a more precise feel, delivering good feedback on all circuit sectors. That, combined with sticky Pirelli summer rubber, immense braking force, and quattro sport differential, really helps the driver get the most out of the RS 5 on track. I’m not a racer, but the Competition Package delivers the sorts of chassis enhancements that can boost one’s confidence on a closed course. It was good fun overall.
On road, the RS 5 Coupe I drove delivered a pleasing mix of comfort, style, and performance. The Coupe I drove through various small towns on narrow and undulating Spanish roads delivered secure handling, quick acceleration, and a pleasing exhaust growl from the biturbo V6.
In the cabin, the sport leather seats deliver plenty of comfort and support, while Audi’s configurable virtual cockpit and pin-sharp HD multimedia screen deliver tech that doesn’t overwhelm and is easy to use. Wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless smartphone charging are among my favourite features.
As for their looks, the RS 5 Coupe and Sportback were handsome cars before, and they remain so now, but the extra black optics package for rings and badging dial up curb appeal, as do the 20-inch mill-cut wheels, which are among the coolest looking I’ve ever seen.
Personally, I’d opt for the Sportback, given the tight confines of the Coupe’s rear seat and its reduced outward visibility, but there really isn’t a wrong choice here. Adding an extra $11K to the price of any car is something that must be carefully considered. But given what the Competition Package offers and what it can deliver on a closed course, I think it’s well worth considering, especially if one wishes to take their RS 5 to the track.
The 2023 Audi RS 5 is now available for order and deliveries are slated to begin later this fall.
2023 Audi RS 5 Coupe
high-performance coupe / sedan
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, eight-speed automatic transmission
2.9-litre biturbo V6 (444 hp / 442 lb-ft.)
(Premium 91+) 13.2 / 9.2 / 11.4 L / 100 km city / highway / combined
450 litres (15.9 cu. ft.)
$92,900 base / $107,890, as tested, excl. freight, taxes & fees