RS 5 and Mont Blanc

ZURICH, Switzerland--For nearly 2,500 miles, I've been winding my way through Europe in Audi's wonderful RS 5 coupe. Over mountain passes, through incredibly narrow French village roads, on broad highways, and everywhere in between, the RS 5 has taken me safely from point to point as I've traveled the Continent on Road Trip 2011. And now, with Switzerland's Lake Lucerne on my left and a plane ticket home from Zurich tomorrow, I'm having trouble coming to grips with giving this terrific car back.

For six years, I've traveled many thousands of miles of the roads of the United States and now Europe as part of my CNET Road Trip projects. This year, for the first time, I decided to split the trip up into segments, driving about half the time and taking trains the other half. And for the weeks of driving, Audi provided me with two of its cars to road-test the RS 5 for the last few weeks, and its A6 3.0 TFSI for the first eight days.

These are very different cars. The RS 5 is a fierce, compact two-door coupe, a sports car with attitude. And the A6 is a long, luxurious sedan with panache. But both had power to spare, a range of the latest accessories, and the never-ending promise of a good time on the road.

This is the RS 5 I drove on Road Trip 2011 with France's Mount Blanc in the background.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

RS 5 and the Swiss Alps

Audi's RS 5, which should be coming to the United States in 2012, is a step up from its existing S5 coupe. The RS 5 differs from the S5 in that it has a more powerful engine, bigger wheels, an exhaust system that produces a throatier growl, a sports suspension with "dynamic ride," and no forced top speed limit--all the better for ripping down the Autobahn. The RS 5 has a 7-speed S-tronic transmission, and a V8 engine with 450 horsepower. The S5, by comparison, has just 354 horsepower.

In this photograph, the RS 5 is seen parked alongside a mountain road high in the Swiss Alps.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Three towers of the Millau Viaduct

The RS 5 that CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman drove during Road Trip 2011 is seen here parked just in front of the Millau Viaduct, the world's tallest bridge.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

RS 5 at Carcassonne

In this photograph, the RS 5 is seen with the French medieval walled city of Carcassonne in the background.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

RS 5 and old Michelin test track

Here, we see the RS 5 parked on a road in Clermont-Ferrand, France, just in front of tire maker Michelin's now-defunct test track.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

RS 5 and Victorinox

After visiting Victorinox for a tour of the production facilities of the Swiss Army Knife, CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman photographed the Audi RS 5 in front of the company's headquarters in Schwyz, Switzerland.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

RS 5 instrument panel

This is the instrument panel of the Audi RS 5.

Updated:
Photo by: Audi / Caption by:

19-inch wheel

One of the features that makes the RS 5 so fierce is its huge 19-inch wheels.

Updated:
Photo by: Audi / Caption by:

Front seats

These are one type of front seats available for the Audi RS 5.

Updated:
Photo by: Audi / Caption by:

RS 5 Dashboard

The Audi RS 5's dashboard is seen here as CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman road-tests the car during Road Trip 2011.

Updated:
Photo by: Kathleen Craig / Caption by:

RS 5 navigation

This is the RS 5's navigation screen.

Updated:
Photo by: Kathleen Craig / Caption by:

RS 5 and full Millau Viaduct

Here, the RS 5 is seen with all seven towers of the Millau Viaduct--the world's tallest bridge--in the background.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Front of RS 5

In this photograph, we see the front of Audi's RS 5 coupe.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Driving the RS 5

CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman drives Audi's RS 5.

Updated:
Photo by: Kathleen Craig / Caption by:

Welcome to the Dordogne

Audi's RS 5 is seen parked alongside a sign welcoming visitors to France's terrific Dordogne region.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

RS 5 and the glacier

High in the Swiss Alps, CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman stopped to enjoy the view of a glacier, seen here in the background, with the Audi RS 5 in the foreground.

Updated:
Photo by: Kathleen Craig / Caption by:

RS 5 and Templar gate

In this photograph, we see the Audi RS 5 parked in front of a gate in the medieval French village of Domme, in the Dordogne region.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

The cat and the RS 5

The RS 5 makes a new friend.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

RS 5 and 12th century church

The RS 5 is seen here, parked in front of a restored 12th-century church in the Dordogne region of France.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

A6 3.0 TFSI and the Swiss Alps

At the beginning of Road Trip 2011, CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman drove Audi's A6 3.0 TFSI for eight days across Switzerland and Germany. The drive included hundreds of miles of the German Autobahn, as well as a foray into the Swiss Alps, where the car is seen in this photograph.

The A6 3.0 TFSI differs from Audi's standard A6 in that it has a sport differential gear, a heads-up display, adaptive cruise control, a speed limit display on the windshield, a parking assist feature, night vision, and the ability to run a wireless local area network in the car.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

A6 at Zeppelin headquarters

Here, we see the Audi A6 3.0 TFSI that CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman drove during Road Trip 2011 parked in front of the headquarters of Zeppelin Luftschifftechnik, the makers of the Zeppelin NT, in Friedrichshafen, Germany.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

A6 at Oberalppass

In this photograph, the Audi A6 3.0 TFSI is seen at the Oberalppass, the location of the world's highest lighthouse.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

A6 with Alpine fog

The Audi A6 3.0 TFSI is seen here in the Swiss Alps.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Pop-up video display

In the Audi A6 3.0 TFSI, the video display pops up from the dashboard for easy viewing--of the navigation and entertainment systems--while driving.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Empty trunk

This is the (empty) trunk of the Audi A6 3.0 TFSI.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Trunk with suitcases

Even with two sizable suitcases and a backpack, the trunk of the Audi A6 3.0 TFSI still has plenty of room.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Rear seats

Here, we see the rear seats of the Audi A6 3.0 TFSI.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:

Interior front

This is the front interior of the Audi A6 3.0 TFSI.

Updated:
Photo by: Daniel Terdiman/CNET / Caption by:
Hot Galleries

Last-minute gift ideas

Under pressure? These will deliver on time

With plenty of top-notch retailers offering digital gifts, you still have time to salvage your gift-giving reputation.

Hot Products