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First drive review: 2015 Audi RS5

Review updated by Jay Kay   09 March 2017 11:03 am | Motoring

The 2015 Audi RS5 has the recipe for some exciting motoring thanks to its fantastic engine and gearbox. So good is the car on paper, that it is pegged as being a strong contender to the BMW 4. The question is, which car is best??

Score 3.5 / 5   RRP £42000.00

Pros: Naturally aspirated high revving V spec engine, great gearbox, comfortable, doesnt feel huge

Cons: a bit soft even in dynamic mode, not as exciting to drive as the M4


Engine: 4200cc

Cylinders: 8

Power: 444

Torque: 315

Transmission: 7 speed automatic

Acceleration: 4.6sec

Top Speed: 155mph

Fuel: 20mpg

CO2: 246g/km

Road Tax: L

Release Date: 2014-01-01

Verdict: A good car in its class, which is not the same class as the BMW M4

The 2015 Audi RS5 has the recipe of a fantastic sports coupe

A couple of videos ago when I asked which car I should replace my Mk7 Golf R DSG with, one of the cars recommended was the Audi RS5. A quick Google showed that it ticks several of my boxes with it's 4.2 litre naturally aspirated 444bhp engine, delivering a screaming 8250rpm! This sounds like a thing of brilliance, a thing of beauty! It gets better too, as rumour has it that the power plant is lifted from the previous gen Audi R8. To top it off it's quite a nice looking car too. So with that in mind I began doing my research on the car just to see where it fared in reviews.

I always take journalist reviews with a pinch of salt now, ever since the hype which was made over the Mk3 Ford Focus RS. Generally I find that my driving experience tends to agree with journalists, but when it came to the Ford I felt like the media had been bought out. However in spite of this I was still left an impression after reading the reviews about the Audi RS5. The main problem being that it is pegged as being a car that isn't sure if it wants to be a lazy Sunday afternoon or a frantic Saturday night. Given that it has such great makings of a performance legend; it is hard to imagine that Audi can't deliver anything special with what they have. So with my expectations now set, I arranged a test drive.

Starting with the looks of the Audi RS5 I'd say it shines class, possibly even wealth. The model I drove had privacy glass and 20 inch optional wheels. The car was filthy as I was told that it had literally just arrived from the previous owner but it still looked a pretty cool piece of kit. Having said that, it isn't as serous looking as the Audi RS6. I'd say the hyper estate is better looking, more in your face, blatant and hellraizing. The Audi RS5 looks like a more conservative, relaxed type of car. It does however contain the aggressive looking RS5 stamped grille with the LED and bixenon headlights.

Stepping to the side of the car and you are greeted with a good looking, conservative smooth coupe. Where the BMW M4 looks brash and blatant, with its bumps and shark fin, giving the impression of a powerful muscle car, the Audi looks plainer than my Mk7 Golf R! Infact it isn't a look which offers much inspiration or excitement, there are no special lines, no interesting shapes and this includes the 20inch optional wheels fitted. It could literally be a bog standard, run of the mill diesel coupe.

The rear of the car is keeping in line with the side of the car; maintaining that conservative, perhaps corporate demeanour. The exhaust pipes are particularly plain given the cars possible performance capabilities. What is interesting about this car where looks are concerned is that it achieves the task of looking understated better than the Mk 7 Golf R does. If I'm honest, I prefer a bit more flaunt. The Golf R has the exhaust tips, the wheels. This RS doesn't really have anything, and I think that is a step too far in the wrong direction. To justify this the drive needs to be exceptional, and lord knows it has the engine and drive train to provide it!

Before the drive I had to have a quick look at the brilliant 4.2 litre V8. This is a dinosaur, in a world of turbo chargers and smaller lighter engines. One day engines like this will be sat on displays in museums and that will be a very sad day indeed.

Sitting in the car behind the wheel for the first time is a promising start. The seating position is pretty much perfect, comfortable and spacious. It doesn't feel as firm as im used to with the previous cars I've driven, the seats definitely being softer than those of the BMW M4 in direct comparison. The car itself though, to my pleasant surprise doesn't feel as if it were a big car. You wouldn't believe that sat in front of you was such a big v8. I was expecting this car to feel like a big muscle car. Starting up the car wasn't particularly exciting. There was no exciting first rev roar which was a bit of a disappointment, so this straight away led me into thinking that maybe the motoring journalist were reporting correctly with this car.

We pulled away on a rough country road and the dealer had left the car's driving mode in Dynamic. Heading up to 50mph I noticed that the steering was responsive but felt numb. I couldn't feel any feedback from the road surface at all. I was surprised by this but it also adds to the confusion; surely a sports car should offer road surface feedback, even if it is via electronics? I'm certainly used to it now with my Mk7 Golf R and after test driving the Mk3 Focus RS, the BMW M2 and the BMW M4. This is another disappointment.

Steering aside this car is very comfortable. In my opinion given that we are in dynamic mode it feels too soft, too bouncy and that is a bad thing if we are trying to compete with the BMW M4. For those that do not know, Dynamic mode is Audi's version of sport mode. Given the soft nature of the ride I'd class this as sports tourer. The first B road opening I reach with a safe opening, I drop it down a gear and floor the car so I can hear the engine sing a high note. I laugh like a mad man because it sounds so good; it's as beautiful as I had imagined it would be! At speed, the car is graciously comfortable, while feeling confident and nimble. At one point I thought the car was a bit twitchy as I planted the power down, but going over my footage again I couldn't see any evidence of this.

So how does the Audi RS5 drive and is it a real contender for the BMW M4? No it isn't. This cars' ace over the M4 (and every car I've driven so far) is the fantastic high revving 4.2 V8. I loved it. I loved the high revving nature, I loved the sound but that is all I loved. The drive is just too plain. Once again I find myself agreeing with motoring journalist where this car is concerned because it is hard to understand what it was Audi were trying to achieve here. With such a legendary engine, with such legendary grip, this car deserved to have the knife edge handling I've experienced from every car I've driven so far. Instead, we get a car which delivers fast pace but in such a comfortable, laid back way, it doesn't feel exciting. A better testament to this is if you look at my BMW M2 test drive video where I am having a blast. I'd choose the BMW M2 over this car any day.

This is a 3.5 star car. It's good but I cannot see how anyone could compare this to any performance focused car such as a BMW M. For the first time in a while I got back in my Golf R and realised how fantastic it is. You'd be crazy to "upgrade" to the Audi RS5 from the Golf R.