Car Reviews

2019 Audi RS5 Review

Isaac Bober’s 2019 Audi RS5 Review with Price, Specs, Performance, Ride and Handling, Interior, Ownership, Infotainment, Safety, Verdict, and Score.

In a nutshell: The Audi RS5 four-door arrived in Australia earlier this year boasting a fiery engine and impressive handling in an, ahem, family-friendly body.

2019 Audi RS5 Specifications

Price From $157,700+ORCs Warranty three-years, unlimited kilometres Service Intervals 12 months, 15,000km Safety five-star ANCAP Engine 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol Power 331kW at 6700rpm Torque 600Nm from 1900-5000rpm Transmission eight-speed automatic Drive quattro all-wheel drive Dimensions 4782mm long 1846mm wide, 1414mm high, 2832mm wheelbase Seats five Boot Space 480 litres Spare space saver Fuel Tank 58 litres Thirst 8.9L/100km claimed combined

The four-door version (Sportback) of the Audi RS5 Coupe arrived in Australia earlier this year boasting not just more room (an extra 59mm) but those extra two doors. And it’s made it into a genuinely ‘practical’ family proposition. Well, so long as you’ve got pockets deep enough to splash more than $157,000 and are happy to let your kids crawl about inside the thing.

But, if you’re in the market for a quick and ‘practical’ Audi then there’s also the RS4 Avant (Audi-speak for wagon) but for the sake of the argument let’s say the wagon isn’t your cup of tea (but, for the record: it is my cup of tea).

What’s the price and what do you get?

Both the RS5 Sportback (four-door) and Coupe are priced at the same $157,700+ORCs but for me having the extra doors and a powered tailgate means, right off the bat, the RS5 Sportback is better value even if you do miss out on the carbon roof of the Coupe.

The main highlights include, 20-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, Head-up display, wireless smartphone charging and USB outlets for rear passengers, gloss black exterior styling package, panoramic glass sunroof, as well as privacy glass and red-painted brake calipers.

You also get, of course, the Audi virtual cockpit which replaces traditional analogue dials with a digital display, a Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system which is ah…mm…a..zing. But it’s worth noting the dashboard design isn’t Audi’s latest but we’ll go into that in more detail later. Also standard are some cool bits of performance wizardry including, quattro sport rear differential, RS sports exhaust, dynamic ride control and adaptive dampers.

2019 Audi RS5 Sportback Review

What’s the interior like?

Slip behind the flat-bottomed wheel and the cabin looks and feels very sophisticated with all the ‘premium’ adornments of carbon-fibre, brushed alloy and soft-touch plastics mixed with Alcantara and leather. If you’ve looked at pictures of new Audi models and seen the dual-screens and step-up in terms of look and feel you might argue, on the surface at least, the RS5’s interior feels a little last generation. But that’s not the case at all when you’re behind the wheel. It’s a very nice cabin to have to spend your time in.

2019 Audi RS5 Sportback Review

What’s the infotainment like?

As mentioned, the RS5 features what you’d describe as the “old” dashboard layout which means you only get a single screen (which is non-touch-sensitive) for the infotainment with the controls being mounted forward of the gear shifter. The shortcut buttons are nestled around the rotary MMI controller the top of which allows you to use your finger to “write” a destination for the sat-nav. This is cool but it’s not always the easiest way to input a street name and number, especially not if you’re right handed and writing with your left hand, even if it is your finger, comes out looking like hieroglyphics.

2019 Audi RS5 Sportback Review

The RS5 can act as a Wi-Fi hotspot (via SIM card) and it has Apple and Android connectivity as standard (something, say, BMW doesn’t) and while it works well and the sound system is amazing what’s not is the clumsiness of using the rotary controller to navigate around the smartphone interface. And if you’re trying to go from, say, a song back to the library, or even the Apple CarPlay home screen, while driving, it can be time consuming and thus distracting.

2019 Audi RS5 Sportback Review

But what you can’t complain about is the feature richness of Audi’s infotainment system it’s just that the menu structure with all its rabbit holes to get lost down and the controller isn’t the most user-friendly.

What are the front seats like?

The front seats can be adjusted to suit all shapes and sizes and there’s plenty of steering wheel adjustment too. The seats are nice and grippy without trying to be race car seats, although climbing out can still be a bit of a pain when you, ahem, drag yourself across the side bolster. The door opens nice and wide so getting in and out is easy, there’s memory function on the seat and no matter how you adjust the seat (higher or lower) all the major controls are in easy reach.

What are the back seats like?

Over in the back the RS5 is a lot more practical than its Coupe sibling and that’s because there’s room for three across the back while the Coupe only has two seats. There’s good head and shoulder room for adults in the back. With the driver’s seat set-up to suit me I was still comfortable sitting in the back seat. And fitting my daughter’s booster seat was a cinch with wide-opening doors – there ISOFIX outlets on the two outboard seats and top tether anchors on the backs of the seats for all three positions. You get a fold down armrest, there are door bins, and climate controls for those in the back as well as USB outlets for charging devices.

What’s the boot space like?

Being a liftback you get a wide and deep boot space but it’s shallow-ish offering 480 litres of space which is 15 litres more than the Coupe, if you’re counting. Sure, it’s not the same as a wagon but it’s a decent boot and as practical as you can get with a liftback. Meaning, you’ve got a large boot lip and a fair lift from the ground to load and unload the boot. A speed-and-distance-limited space saver sits beneath the floor.

What’s the performance like?

The 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 is shared with the Audi RS4 and makes 331kW from 5700-6700rpm and 600Nm of torque from 1900-5000rpm. That whopping spread of torque means acceleration is only ever a flex of the toe away and that your only ever moments away from head-butting the horizon. Indeed, the lighter weight RS5 is faster to 100km/h than the RS4 (3.9 seconds), by just 0.2 seconds.

2019 Audi RS5 Sportback Review

Standing starts and pinning the throttle will see the eight-speed automatic snap through the gearshifts with rifle-bolt precision and the car will accelerate with a brutality and roar, snap and crackle that’s both intoxicating and literally breath-taking as you’re pushed back into the seat. But, few people will ever drive the thing like that…and you shouldn’t assume then that the RS5 charges around like a wounded bull because it doesn’t.

2019 Audi RS5 Sportback Review

Driven gently the RS5 is calm and, dare I say it, relaxing and I like that in a car with this much grunt. You shouldn’t have to drive to the supermarket and feel like the thing is straining at the leash. Thanks to the broad spread of torque, the RS5 will happily lope along in a high-gear at around-town speeds.

Fuel consumption is a claimed combined 8.9L/100km but it’ll be impossible to get close to that in the real world. I certainly didn’t, managing 10.3L/100km for my week with the RS5 which I thought was pretty good. But I live in the country. Around town you could easily expect to that number closer to 15L/100km.

What’s the ride and handling like?

Like its straight-line performance, the way the RS5 goes around corners is impressive. Thanks to quattro all-wheel drive with a 40:60 front to rear drive split and a sport differential at the back, grip both into, through and out of a corner is excellent in either the wet or the dry. That’s not to suggest it’s particularly soul-stirring because it isn’t, but what it is is brutally efficient at going around corners with a sure-footedness that bests its competitors.

2019 Audi RS5 Sportback Review

Some have criticised elements of the Dynamic Ride Control (read: adjustable dampers) as being too firm in Dynamic but I didn’t find that at all. While I normally prefer Comfort in these sorts of cars, I left the RS5 in Dynamic the whole time I had it, even on the morning school run. Across all but the very worst surfaces it absorbed lumps and bumps nicely without rattling loose this reviewer’s fillings. Even over speed humps there’s control to weed out any thump through.

2019 Audi RS5 Sportback Review

The steering is what lets it down. It’s typically Audi in that its quite numb at the same time as being quick and direct in its action although there are some inconsistencies to the weight of the action. But even the disconnected steering can’t take away from this being a brutally quick and confidence-inspiring car to drive.

What about ownership?

Audi offers a three-year unlimited kilometre warranty across the board with the option of paying more to extend the warranty in increments of an extra 12 to 48 months (but for not more than 160,000km). Services are set 12 months or 15,000km wit Audi offering the choice of either a three- ($1950) or five-year ($3020) service plan at the time of purchase. The service plans, like the warranty, are linked to the vehicle and so the remainder of both transfers with the vehicle to the new owner.

What about safety features?

There’s no specific ANCAP or EuroNCAP score for the RS5 it is covered by the same rating as the regular A5 which was awarded five stars by ANCAP back in 2015. Sure, the criteria are different these days but thanks to a raft of active safety features as standard, it’s likely the RS5 would achieve full marks if tested today.

As standard, you get eight airbags (early arrivals only received six) as well as autonomous emergency braking, park assist (which will park the car for you at the press of a button while you control the brake and throttle), Audi pre-sense rear which will scan the road behind you on the look-out for a potential rear-end collision and then warn you if it detects a car is travelling too fast behind you, adaptive cruise control, head-up display, 360-degree cameras, blind-spot monitoring and lane-keep assist.

Editor's Rating

How do we rate the interior?
How do we rate the infotainment?
How do we rate the performance?
How do we rate the ride and handling?
How do we rate the safety features?
Practical Motoring Says: The RS5 Sportback makes a lot more sense than the Coupe; the more doors and seats, and the bigger boot give it the edge over the two-door version. The looks are menacing but not in a showy way, the interior is lovely, the handling is impressive and the engine is a weapon. As Robbie Williams once said…‘the idiots that think that they’re heroes’ will bang on about things like the M4 and the C63 as being more drifty and aggressive but neither is as complete as the RS5, nor as quick on a twisting back road.

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober