REVIEW | The 2019 Audi RS5 Sportback will blast you into orbit
Waldo Swiegers discovers that you don't need a spaceship to feel like an astronaut, especially when you have this Audi at your command
Imagine you are strapped into Apollo 11’s command module, Columbia, atop a Saturn V rocket, ready for lift-off. It’s a tight space, with a multitude of buttons and knobs and toggles. It has enough computing power to get you and two other people to the moon and back. Fast-forward 50 years, and slide into the cockpit of the new Audi RS5 Sportback. Comfortably seating four people, quiet and with more technology in it than Columbia could ever dream of, it defies the laws of physics much the same way.
The Audi’s 2.9-litre V6 engine is force-fed air by two turbochargers. The max power output of 331kW and 600Nm of torque is enough to rocket one off the line at warp speed. Thanks to Audi’s all-wheel drive Quattro system, which is mated to a very smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox, all the power gets put down onto the tarmac without any fuss whatsoever.
The claimed 3.9 seconds for the 0-100km/h dash is supercar territory, and there are very few cars that would stand a chance off the line at the traffic light grand prix. The engine makes a beautiful noise as it races towards the red end of the tachometer, especially in Sport mode, when the exhaust pipes are derestricted for one’s aural delight.
It’s not all about speed, though. Once in orbit, things calm down. The RS5 Sportback becomes a relaxed drive, with all the comforts to make a commute or a highway journey as effortless as possible. The massage function on the bucket seats keeps one well relaxed on any trip. Audi’s infotainment system is one of the best and, along with the virtual dash, it is an absolute pleasure to operate. A Harman Kardon speaker package compliments one’s favourite radio station or streaming playlist, and echoes the high notes of the car in general.
It is a fair bit heavier than its natural rivals — the BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C63 S. This is thanks to the Quattro system, and though the RS5 Sportback has an incredible sure-footedness through the twisty bits, it is not nearly as much fun as the M3 or C63 S. The RS5 Sportback is more of a grand tourer than outright sports sedan. The steering doesn’t offer quite as much communication as one would expect. This grand tourer bias makes it easier to live with 95% of the time, though, if one is willing to tame the hooligan in oneself.
All this effortless speed, comfort and luxury comes at the price of R1.3m, in line with its rivals. The on-board computer indicated 16.0l/100km during the test period. A far cry from claimed figures, but to be expected considering that most of the driving was done in town. Highway cruising and a bit of mindfulness will see these figures drop substantially.
Fifty years after the first moon landing, one doesn’t need to be an astronaut to experience out-of-this-world performance while relaxing in the utmost comfort. The Audi RS5 Sportback brings together the best of Audi’s performance models with great looks and stunning performance, while being a practical beast.