Audi's high performance Sportback driven on Irish roads
Words: Karl Connolly Images: Paddy McGrath
Pros: Practicality, tremendous performance, standout styling
Cons: Rivals more exciting to drive, expensive with options
When high performance meets practicality, cars like the new Audi RS5 Sportback are born. While the two-door Audi RS5 Coupe launched to the Irish market back in 2017, the five-door Sportback version has just arrived for the first time. Churning out 450bhp and 600Nm of torque via Quattro four-wheel-drive, the RS5 Sportback is massively powerful and performance-orientated. The RS5 Sportback faces stiff competition from a host of rivals including the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio and Mercedes AMG C 63 amongst others, and we drove it on Irish roads recently to see what it is like to live with day to day.
The RS5 Sportback looks fast standing still with 20-inch forged alloy wheels and RS bodystyling throughout
Although the RS5 Sportback is more practical than the Coupe, it’s equally impressive from the outside. It demands attention out on the road, with a low-slung stance, eye-catching 20-inch alloy wheels, RS bumpers, large oval sports exhausts and the RS5 logo emblazoned on the quarter panels and a dark front grille. Our test car is finished in Audi’s distinctive Nardo Grey paint scheme and features a a suite of expensive upgrades including carbon door handles, red brake callipers, a panoramic sunroof and matrix LED headlights. RS treatment certainly suits the Sportback, and dare we say it, moreso than the Coupe.
The RS5 Sportback is 60mm longer than the RS5 Coupe which translates into extra legroom and comfort for rear seat passengers
The RS5 Sportback’s cabin showcases incredible build quality and lots of technology, with sporty undertones and RS badging galore. RS sports seats serve up immense comfort and lower back support, while a three-spoke sport steering wheel and gear lever adds a sense of occasion. The RS5 Sportback features Audi’s MMI navigation plus infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard which is easy to use, albeit the 8.3-inch display on the centre console isn’t a touch screen system. Audi’s Virtual Cockpit display is standard and showcases various information in front of the driver including performance statistics.
The cabin offers a sense of occasion with body-hugging RS sports seats, black cloth headlining and a sporty three spoke RS steering wheel
The RS5 Sportback is 60mm longer than the RS5 Coupe which results in more leg room for rear passengers, and it is ultimately more practical for ferrying four adults in comfort. There is 465 litres of boot space thanks to the Sportback’s hatchback tailgate, which is more than what you get in many rival models, while the rear seats are split folding for added space.
The RS5 Sportback offers tremendous traction out on the road even in typically wet Irish driving conditions
The RS5 Sportback is equipped with the same twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine as the Audi RS4 Avant that we drove last year, and it’s ferociously fast in a straight line. With 450bhp running to the Quattro All-Wheel-Drive system, a Tiptronic transmission and a sport differential fitted as standard, it accelerates and grips with ferocity. 0-100km/h flashes by in just 3.9 seconds, and it will go on to a limited top speed of 250km/h. Our test car features an optional RS sports exhaust system (€2k extra) which only adds to the driving experience. In dynamic setting, the RS5 Sportback has a gorgeous soundtrack. Out on the road it's smooth and refined despite the focused sports supension and large alloy wheels. The RS5 Sportback serves up serious driving thrills on spirited drives, though it isn't quite as nerve wracking as the rear-wheel-drive Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio.
The twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine delivers 450 horsepower and 600Nm of low-down torque
Prices and features:
Prices for the new Audi RS5 Sportback start from €114,050, which is on par with the RS5 Coupe. Despite its hefty price tag, the level of standard equipment is second to none. Highlights include 20-inch alloy wheels, Audi’s connect navigation infotainment system, electric RS sports seats, LED front and rear lights, a reversing camera and various RS upgrades including sports suspension, brakes, bumpers and a sports exhaust system. Our test car is fitted with a suite of optional extras worth an additional €24,401, including Matrix LED headlights, a carbon styling package, panoramic sunroof, a premium Bang & Olufsen sound system and black styling package.
Tremendous stopping-power is provided through the standard RS brakes
The RS5 Sportback offers phenomenal performance, practicality and premium quality wrapped up in a stylish five-door package. Despite having 450 horsepower at its disposal, the RS5 Sportback doubles as an excellent day-to-day cruiser, and it is easy to drive in all weather conditions. The high quality cabin is inviting even on the longest of drives. So capable is the RS5 Sportback however, that certain rivals such as the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG are ultimately more exciting to drive. That said, it's the ultimately the best all-rounder in the high-performance class.
For tremedous and usable everyday performance, the Audi RS5 Sportback delivers in almost every regard
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Audi RS5 Sportback
Prices from: €114,050
Price as tested: €138,451
Annual Motor Tax: €1200
Motor: 2.9-litre V6 twin-turbocharged petrol
0-100km/h: 3.9 seconds
Body style: Sportback
Boot Space: 465 litres
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
Mercedes-Benz AMG C 63