Audi RS5: The Family Saloon/Cruise Missile

The new Audi RS5 looks and feels like a luxury family car but drives like a complete mentalist.
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The new Audi RS5 looks and feels like a luxury family car but drives like a complete mentalist.

There’s no doubt about it, Audi does unassuming performance like no other manufacturer. The RS5 is the latest in a long line of potent motors to sport the elusive RS badge, one that signifies brutal pace disguised in a velvety outer shell. In short, it’s a devastating cruise missile dressed up as a family saloon.

The RS5 is a beautiful piece of kit though, with enough muscle to keep the (predominantly) male buyers happy yet offering a level of luxury that will ensure the marriage doesn’t self-destruct right there on the forecourt. Another genius move from the boys at Neckarsulm is the addition of their ‘Dynamic’ driving controls. Now, the notion of a button that stiffens suspension, increases the rev-range and improves an exhaust note isn’t a new one, but the extent of the transformation in the new Audi is astonishing.

Ride with the Dynamic control set to ‘Comfort’ and you’d be mistaken for thinking you were in the back of a Bentley, gliding over potholes with an un-intrusive engine note and sumptuous leather seats for company. Ditch the passengers though, flick that control switch to ‘Dynamic’ (or, in other words, utterly mental) and brace as the car transforms into a snarling, angry ogre of a machine. The rev needle instantly climbs as the chassis stiffens and the steering wheel tightens in your palms.

The engine note lets out a mighty bellow and the machine hunkers down, chomping at the tarmac, ready to be floored. Once that right-foot is depressed there’s no stopping this vehicle, it’s breath-taking in its progress and equally gut-wrenching in its stopping power, particularly when you add the carbon ceramic brakes as an optional extra. 0-62 is dispatched in an eye-watering 4.6 seconds and the insanely high-revving engine will take you to a massively illegal (electronically limited) 155 mph in the blink of a said dewy eyeball.

These dizzy figures are thanks to the astounding 4.2 litre V8 that produces 450bhp, more than enough to sate even the thirstiest of petrol heads and a sure sign that customers are expecting ever-more poke from their machines. It’s a rare beast too, with Audi only expecting to shift 250 units this year (with all cars being accounted for already) and around 1000 units in 2011.

It really is a superb car, particularly great for those buyers who aren’t quite ready to take the tentative (and often marriage-destroying) steps towards pure sports car ownership. Four seats, four doors, maximum comfort and Porsche-baiting performance figures at the flick of a switch… Audi really have nailed the best of both worlds.

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