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.
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.
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.
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.
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.