When compared with the A5/S5 upon which it is based, the RS coupe features a larger grille that dips closer to the road below and a more aggressive stance thanks to slightly flared fenders and a lower ride height.
Behind that large intake breathes a V-8 engine that makes its 450 horsepower the old-fashioned way: with 4.2 liters of displacement and a lot of noise. Torque is stated at 317 pound-feet and hits like a sledgehammer when you pin the go pedal.
Before reaching the wheels, the torque is multiplied by a seven-speed S Tronic automatic transmission. The gearbox features three modes -- comfort, sport, and manual -- and can be controlled with this console shift lever or a pair of steering-wheel paddle shifters.
This variant of Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive system defaults to a 40:60 front-to-rear torque split. The rear bias is in keeping with the RS 5's sporty character, but that split can vary between 70:30 and 15:85 on demand.
The RS 5's sport-tuned suspension is fixed and no adaptive system is available. With no "comfort" mode available, the coupe's ride is rough, but not punishing, and transmits a lot of road noise into the cabin. Still, I think I prefer the simplicity of a fixed suspension to an expensive adaptive rig.
The RS 5 is almost too much car for public use. You'll almost never do more than scratch the surface of its ability outside of a closed course without endangering yourself or others. Take it to a track, however, and it will deliver plenty of grins.
RS-specific sport seats hold the driver and front passenger in place. The RS also features this flat-bottomed, leather-trimmed steering wheel. Steering with your knees is not only a bad idea, it's also nigh impossible.
The standard cabin tech package is probably pretty good, but our tester was equipped with the $3,550 Audi MMI Navigation Plus package. Optioning this all-inclusive infotainment package is money well spent.
This is a sports car, not a video game, so the RS 5's instrumentation is suitably simple and easy to read at a glance. However, I was annoyed that the digital speedometer would disappear during navigation (replaced, understandably, with turn-by-turn directions) and I never, even after a long weekend of driving, figured out how to change the information displayed by the trip computer.
The RS 5 can be started without removing the key from your pocket by pushing this start button. Additionally, the smart-key transponder itself can be plugged into an indentation on the dashboard and pressed to fire up the engine. When started this way, the car also recharges the transponder's battery.
Audi's hard-drive-based navigation system is able to overlay Google Maps satellite imagery onto its maps, as you may have seen earlier in this gallery. However, I preferred the crisp Nvidia-powered graphics of the standard maps.
Many parts of the Audi MMI feature this sort of rotary character input that seems a bit too clunky. Fortunately, most parts of the interface can be accessed via voice command. I appreciate that the Audi system will allow full address input such as, "123 Main Street, San Francisco, California," without prompts for each part.
Terrestrial radio lovers will appreciate that the MMI Navigation Plus option also adds HD Radio tuning to the RS 5's bag of audio sources. Here we can see how the system breaks out digital substations.
USB and iPod connectivity are standard, but users of Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone devices will appreciate Bluetooth audio streaming. My Samsung Galaxy Nexus didn't display metadata, but then it never does.
Perhaps one of the most transparent, but worthwhile, upgrades that comes with the MMI Navigation Plus package is the Bang & Olufsen premium audio system. It won't make your crappy MP3s sound much better, but give it clean lossless or CD audio and this 15-speaker system really shines.