2013 Audi RS 5 is a brute in a suit

Beneath some of the sexiest sheet metal on the road today, the 2013 Audi RS 5 is a bit of a brute.

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Hunker down

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.

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V-8 FSI engine

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.

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Seven-speed transmission

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.

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Quattro all-wheel drive

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.

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Sports active differential

On the rear axle, the RS 5 features a standard sports rear differential, which can actively torque vector power to either rear wheel to help tuck the coupe into a turn.

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Sport suspension

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.

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Rear spoiler

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.

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Rear spoiler

At 75 mph, the RS 5's rear spoiler extends to reduce lift and aerodynamic drag and remains elevated unless the speed drops below 50 mph. It can also be raised and lowered at the touch of a button.

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20-inch wheels

The RS 5 rolls off of the assembly line with standard 19-inch wheels, but our tester was fitted with 20-inchers shod with summer rubber, a $1,000 option.

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Interior

The RS 5's cabin is standard Audi fare, which is to say that it features excellent fit and finish and an understated design.

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Steering wheel

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.

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Audi MMI Navigation plus

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.

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Audi MMI controller

The MMI system is commanded via this MMI controller, which is located on the center console. The control knob is surrounded by shortcuts to the infotainment system's various operation modes.

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Instrumentation

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.

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Keyless entry and start

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.

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Nvidia-powered maps

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.

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Input options

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.

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Address book sync

Bluetooth hands-free calling features address book syncing that actually syncs your contacts' addresses and makes possible quick navigation at the touch of a shortcut button.

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SiriusXM

SiriusXM Satellite Radio is standard on the RS 5.

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HD Radio

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.

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Bluetooth audio streaming

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.

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Audi Drive Select

Audi's Drive Select system lets users change the steering feel, transmission mode, and sport-differential performance, with three presets and one user-customizable setting.

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Car menu

The Car menu also gives users a way to change a number of convenience and safety settings, including the behavior of the lights, locks, and parking-aid proximity sensors.

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Bang & Olufsen premium audio

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.

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Carbon fiber inlays

The RS 5 further distinguishes itself from the A5/S5 with standard carbon fiber inlays throughout the cabin. Don't worry, these carbon fiber bits don't look at all cheesy or cheap.

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Which do you prefer?

Would you choose the Audi RS 5 over the BMW M3 or the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG? Let us know in the comments.

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