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Test Drive: 2018 Audi RS 5 Coupe

Beautiful, responsive driving from the sportscar-inspired vehicle

by Josh Rubin

From Aspen‘s Main Street to the Continental Divide at Independence Pass and from Phoenix out into the cacti-laden Sonoran Desert, we’ve thus far taken the 2018 Audi RS 5 Coupe on two adventures of startling beauty. There’s a reason we returned to the wheel—and return would again; the high performance vehicle is an object of impeccable design. And this design telegraphs the Audi coupe’s real value: it’s fast and it’s fun.

Inspired by the Audi quattro IMSA GTO race car, the RS 5 Coupe looks fast without commanding too much attention. Though understated, it certainly taps into the purity of sportscar design—with an athleticism to the body that swoops into muscles atop the signature single-frame grille. Other details—from the lip spoiler to the large air intake on the lower bumper (both of which generate substantial downforce)—only emphasize the car’s penchant for speed.

The 2018 is also an improvement on the previous generation, visible in the increased torque—drawn from a 2.9-liter biturbo V6 engine. Its 0-60 in 3.7 seconds sets a record in the class. Weight distribution also matters, here. Not only is the 2018 lighter, it’s far more balanced. This makes the driving experience tighter, smoother and more responsive.

The goal of the RS 5 is different than many other releases these days. It’s not about semi-autonomous driving or the introduction of a new powertrain. It’s an acknowledgment of the joy behind driving. Of course, you can customize the suspension, transmission and damping while on the road—but you can also enjoy driving easily, simply and slowly.

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Not long after the RS 5 released, Audi announced the four-door 2019 Sportsback version, which is arguably more practical but not compromised in performance. And of course, there’s the RS 7—one of our favorite cars out there. But it’s very easy to love this coupe. As expected, the 12-inch virtual cockpit, infotainment system and advanced driver assistance tools add value. Design details—from the honeycomb quilting on the Nappa leather RS Sport bucket seats to the refined stitching on the perforated leather steering wheel and the carbon fiber accents everywhere—underscore Audi’s perfectionism.

The 2018 Audi RS 5 is available now, starting at $69,000.

Images by Josh Rubin

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