Audi is starting to introduce top-of-the-line RS models much earlier in its cars’ life cycles, which is good news for everyone. It means we don’t have to wait for cars like the current-generation A5 coupe to be on their way out in order to enjoy the fun Audi has been cooking up. It also means the 2018 RS5 will not only be around for a lot longer than RS models of the past, but it’ll also receive updates on the same timeline as the rest of Audi’s lineup. I was able to get behind the wheel of the new RS5 in the mountains above Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona, to stretch the legs of the restyled coupe — especially its brand new 444 horsepower 2.9-liter bi-turbo V6. These are the quick road notes, right out of the gate, but there will be a more in-depth review coming soon.
Who It’s For: Someone looking for a sporty, daily driver that won’t disappoint when you take it to your favorite road on the weekend.
What’s Good: V6 engines get a lot of bad press, either because of their sound or lack of grunt, but the 2.9-liter bi-turbo (with the turbos bolted in between the cylinder banks) pulls its weight. With 444 horsepower an 443 lb-ft of torque, the RS5 isn’t lacking in power, and no matter where you are in its rev-range, you never have to go searching for it.
What to Watch Out For : Pricing starts just under $70,000, which comes in under its rivals from BMW and Mercedes, but for that, you get a fairly bare-bones car, meaning no navigation and no Virtual Cockpit. You’ll need to spend an extra $2,600 to get those necessities.
Value: When compared to the competition from BMW and Mercedes, at least on paper, the RS5 sits just ahead. To spec a BMW M4 or AMG C63 up to the performance level of the RS5, you’ll end up spending more money on BMW’s Competition Package or Mercedes-AMG’s next-level C63 S model. As far as standard equipment and performance, the Audi looks to have the other to beat.
Pro-Tip Spring for the Dynamic package, which is $3,350. You get navigation and the virtual cockpit as well as the sport exhaust and the dynamic suspension and ride modes. Also, new for the 2018 RS5 is Sonoma Green, and as far as color options go, that’s a no-brainer.
Verdict: Usually a V6 engine is a caveat for sports cars, but somehow, Audi has made a V6 that can go toe-to-toe with bigger V8s.