2011 Audi RS 5 Preview

FAST FACTS
  • The highest-performing A5-Series model
  • Standard 4.2-liter V-8 engine and 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission
  • Rated at 450 horsepower
  • Upgraded brakes and suspension
  • Unique 19- or 20-inch alloy wheels
  • Special seating, upholstery and trim
  • Unique exterior cosmetic enhancements
  • Currently offered in markets outside North America
2011 Audi RS 5Fast Facts
  • Permanent all-wheel drive and "launch control" ensure efficient acceleration
  • Available 20-inch alloy wheels and 14.96-inch ceramic brakes

Introduction

Launched in November of 2007, the Audi A5-Series is a full-size 2-door coupe designed to compete with the BMW 3 Series coupe, BMW 6 Series, and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe. The luxury-oriented coupe was initially introduced as the S5 (a V-8-powered high-performance model with upgraded suspension, standard all-wheel drive, and sporty interior appointments). The S5 was joined by the standard A5 model in early 2008. The A5 was offered with a choice between front- or all-wheel drive (Audi's quattro system) and was fitted with a standard 3.2-liter V-6 engine. In 2010, a turbocharged 4-cylinder model joined the lineup as the "A5 2.0T" model.

Audi has raised the performance bar significantly with the introduction of the new 2011 RS 5 at the Geneva Motor Show in early 2010. Developed by quattro GmbH (the automaker's performance division), RS models are designed to offer the highest performance of the model lineups-and compete with the and sports cars. While the RS 5 promises impressive performance, it is a vehicle few in North America will be able to test. As of today, Audi has announced the vehicle will only be sold in markets outside the United States.

Design

2011 Audi RS 5The 2011 Audi RS 5 is visually distinguished as a unique and special model by its flared fenders and single-frame grille with a charcoal-gray rhombus-pattern grid. A newly designed bumper features oversized inlets for the engine, brake cooling, and radiators. Audi's now-familiar LED daytime running lights, combined with Xenon headlights, are standard. At the rear, the RS 5 features two large oval exhaust pipes integrated into the bumper. A rear spoiler in the tailgate automatically extends at speeds above 75 mph to increase downforce and improve stability. These efforts are also supported by extensive underbody cladding to reduce the vehicle's aerodynamic signature.

The interior also sets the RS 5 apart from its standard siblings. Leather and Alcantara sport seats with additional bolsters and integrated head restraints help keep passengers secure during spirited driving. The steering wheel is thicker to enhance grip, while bright aluminum appliqu_s adorn the pedals, footrest, and optional MMI navigation system's control buttons. Audi is offering customers the option of special decorative dashboard inlays (stainless-steel mesh, piano black finish, or brushed aluminum) and a carbon fiber package is offered within the engine compartment to enhance its appearance.

Hardware

2011 Audi RS 5 Befitting a performance model, the RS 5 is fitted with a tuned variant of the same engine that powers Audi's R8 sports car-a 4.2-liter 8-cylinder. Under the hood of the RS 5 it is rated at 450 horsepower and 317 lb.-ft. of torque. A close relative of the automaker's high-performance V-10, minus two cylinders, this alloy engine features direct fuel injection and tuned intake and exhaust paths for increased power, according to Audi.

The V-8 is mated to a standard 7-speed "S tronic" dual-clutch automatic transmission that has been specially adapted for high-performance use in the RS 5, Audi says. The gearbox operates in fully automatic mode, or the driver may manually select gears by means of two shift paddles on the steering wheel.

Power is sent to all four wheels through Audi's "quattro" permanent all-wheel-drive system. Taking advantage of the additional grip offered by four powered wheels, the transmission features a "launch control" program that automatically sends maximum power to the ground to ensure efficient acceleration from a standstill, the automaker says. With a curb weight of 3,803 pounds, Audi says the RS 5 accelerates to 62 mph in 4.6 seconds towards an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

The RS 5 has a 5-link front suspension and an independent trapezoidal-link rear suspension with anti-dive compensation to reduce front end "dive" under braking. Compared to the standard A5, the ride height has been lowered by .79 inches to drop the center of gravity and improve handling and aerodynamics. The standard wheels are 19-inch alloys, fitted with 265/35R19 tires on all four corners (20-inch wheels wearing 275/30R20 tires are optional).

The braking system features 14.37-inch diameter front rotors with two-piece (aluminum and iron) construction to save rotational weight and improve cooling, the maker says. Front calipers have eight individual pistons for plenty of stopping power. Audi will swap the metal rotors out for lightweight ceramic carbon-fiber brakes as an option. With 14.96-inch rotors, the ceramic brakes are lighter than their metal counterparts, have higher heat resistance, and offer extended service life, Audi says.

The speed-dependent "servotronic" steering system has been calibrated for use in the RS 5. Furthermore, Audi Drive Select (a vehicle-dynamics control system) gives the driver the ability to choose between three different modes of operation: comfort, auto and dynamic. Based on the setting, microprocessors control steering, transmission shift points, the sport differential, engine response, and exhaust note-customizing dynamics and improving performance, the maker claims.

Safety

2011 Audi RS 5 Safety features on the 2011 Audi RS 5 include six standard air bags (driver and passenger front and side, as well as curtain air bags protecting front and rear outboard passengers). Standard electronic safety aids include anti-lock brakes, electronic traction control, and electronic stability control. (For performance driving, both the stability and traction control can be defeated.)

Technology

While the so-called "horsepower wars" are far from over, there is a growing trend within the automotive industry to fight the urge to increase displacement-the traditional manner to find more power-and seek cleaner and more efficient ways of increasing horsepower through better use of technology.

Audi's 2011 RS 5 is one of the few remaining normally aspirated performance cars from Europe, as most automakers (Audi included) are replacing their 8- and 10-cylinder engines with turbocharged, smaller-displacement 6- or 8-cylinder powerplants. Even in the midst of these developments, the RS 5's 4.2-liter V-8 engine features the latest innovative technology, including direct fuel injection (FSI), dual-branch intake and exhaust, and adjustable camshafts to automatically tune the mixture.

To minimize friction, the oil pump only operates on-demand, and an energy-recovery system conserves power during coasting and braking. As time passes on, Audi's high-performance V-8 may eventually find itself on the chopping block. In the meantime, Audi owners will enjoy one of the last remaining ultra-high-performance, normally aspirated 8-cylinder models available to the public.