Audi RS 5

The 2015 Audi A5, S5, and RS5 models are offered in coupe or cabriolet body styles. A5 models all come with a 2.0L TFSI 4-cylinder engine, with turbocharging and direct injection, which produces 220 hp, while S5 models get a 333-hp, 3.0L supercharged TFSI V6 engine. Quattro all-wheel drive is included in all coupes, but there's a base front-wheel-drive version of the cabriolet for warm-weather climates.

Transmission options are quite different between the two models. Both the A5 coupe and the S5 coupe offer a 6-speed manual gearbox, but the front-wheel-drive cabriolet comes with a continuously variable automatic transmission. A5 models can be optioned with an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, while the S5 is offered with a 7-speed S-tronic automatic.

The RS5 coupe and cabriolet are in another league, with a 450-hp, 4.2L V8 engine and 7-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmission. Upgrades to suspension and braking systems are also included.

Most of the A5 lineup gets Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive system, which sends 60 percent of power to the rear wheels under normal driving, to give these models more of a performance character and a more balanced feel in tight corners. S5 models get a sports differential that helps distribute power to further aid performance.

Cabriolets feature a power-folding acoustic soft top that can be operated at speeds of up to 31 mph; it also has enough thermal insulation for winter use, and special attention has been paid to trunk space. Even when folded, the top allows enough trunk space (10.2 cubic feet) for a couple of small weekend bags. The rear seatbacks can still be folded forward to access more space. The setup also includes LED reading lamps and a heated rear window.

Depending on how much luxury is desired, there are three different trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige. S5 models are available only in Premium Plus and Prestige trims, while the RS5 comes only in a single "base" trim.

Premium models of the A5 include a panorama sunroof, heated power mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, heated windshield nozzles, leather upholstery, a power driver's seat, cruise control, 3-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, HomeLink universal remote, iPod adapter and a 10-speaker, 100-watt sound system with auxiliary input and SD card slot. Premium Plus trim adds xenon headlamps, LED tail lamps, heated front seats and driver's seat memory settings, among other items. Prestige models add Audi advanced key and the Audi side assist blind spot monitoring system, navigation with voice control, S line exterior details, and a Bang & Olufsen sound system with 14 speakers and 505 watts.

Key options include the Audi adaptive cruise control, which applies the brakes as necessary to keep a safe following distance, and is packaged together with Audi Side Assist. Heated and ventilated seats are also available. The comfort front seats in the cabriolet circulate warm air at neck level to allow you, perhaps, to have the top down in cooler weather.

The Audi Connect system is also available, utilizing a dedicated Internet connection for the vehicle to form its own Wi-Fi network. The system also works with Audi's hard-disc-based navigation system to allow easy streaming Google Earth imagery for maps, live Google Search and live news, traffic, and weather. The navigation system includes music-storage capability, while the MMI controller is simple and straightforward.

Editors' First Take

The Audi RS5 has a problem: It's boring. Yes, even with 444 horsepower, a sub-4-second 0-to-60 time, a torque-vectoring rear differential, ceramic brakes and more, the RS5 is just... meh. There's no drama, no excitement. It's sterile. Total weaksauce.

To remedy this, Audi engineered a new Competition package for the RS5 Coupe and RS5 Sportback, as well as the RS4 Avant sold abroad. The changes are actually quite extensive, and wow do they make a big difference. This is totally the RS5 Audi should've built all along.

Interestingly, Audi decided to leave the RS5's engine alone in the Competition upgrade. The 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 makes the same 444 hp and 443 pound-feet of torque as before, which is fine, since power was never an issue. When you drive the RS5 in its Comfort and Auto settings, there's little in the way of discernible powertrain difference, but shift over to Dynamic or put the eight-speed automatic transmission in Sport, and the gearbox livens up with quicker shifts. You can even run each gear right up to redline in manual mode and the transmission won't force an upshift. Too bad the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters provide very little tactile satisfaction.

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