2021 Audi RS5 Sportback review: Where’s the drama?

Victoria D. Doty

Ascari Blue. What a coloration.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

The 2021 Audi RS5 Sportback has 444 horsepower, 442 pound-toes of torque and will hit sixty mph in significantly less than four seconds. It has Quattro all-wheel travel with a torque-vectoring rear differential, ceramic entrance brakes, adaptive dampers and a sport exhaust. Throw in a ton of tech, cozy lodging and a liftback form that is each trendy and purposeful, and the RS5 positions itself as one hell of a go-quick all-rounder. So why never I want one?


  • Seems terrific
  • Comfortable cabin
  • Purposeful cargo keep
  • Best-notch tech

Do not Like

  • Numb steering
  • Lacks emotion
  • Ascari Version is super pricey

This car’s largest dilemma is that it desperately lacks drama. It’s not more than enough for the RS5 Sportback to just be swift, quick or agile. It requirements to be visceral. It requirements to be remarkable. It requirements to make you chuckle. You must want to travel it harder and harder, again and again. Audi totally nails this unquantifiable emotion with cars like the R8, RS6 Avant and even the electric powered RS E-Tron GT. The RS5, by comparison, is sort of sterile.

The two.9-liter twin-turbo V6 has loads of shove, but it truly is far too tranquil — ditto the RS Activity Exhaust. The 8-pace automated transmission shifts speedily and seamlessly, but the tiny, steering wheel-mounted paddles offer you no experiential draw. At least the RS5 is far more gas-productive than other sporty compact luxury cars, returning 18 mpg metropolis, 25 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined. Normally I might say good luck hitting these figures given the RS5’s efficiency stats, but since this automobile really won’t eke you into driving it hard, these EPA figures are quite location-on.

To its credit history, the RS5’s adaptive dampers make it really at ease to travel close to town, and it’ll gobble up hundreds of miles on the highway. But when you contact up Dynamic method and stage the RS5 up a mountain highway, it truly is like you happen to be forcing it to do one thing it truly is not up for. There is pronounced overall body roll in quick corners and audible protesting from the 275/30R20 Pirelli P Zero tires. You would imagine Audi’s sport steering solution would support liven things up, but it truly is far too mild and far too numb, regardless of travel method. The ceramic brakes are loads strong, but the inconsistent pedal come to feel hampers assurance. Actually, the RS5 is happiest when you happen to be rocking a moderate pace, which type of defeats the purpose. The BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63 may well not be as properly-rounded, but holy smokes are they far more entertaining. And isn’t that what made you want to get one of these in the very first position?

All the aforementioned efficiency kit can be equipped to any RS5, but it comes common with my exam car’s minimal-run Ascari Start Version pack. Only one hundred RS5 Sportbacks and 25 RS5 Coupes will be optioned like this, painted in the appropriately named Ascari blue, which is a hue so pretty it just about would make up for some of this car’s shortcomings. Paired with matte aluminum trim, this RS5 seems to be warm as heck, and these twenty-inch wheels really fill out the wheel arches for a terrific stance. The specific-edition trimline also comes with a 360-diploma camera method, head-up exhibit, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping guide, navigation and a bunch of other goodies. Then again, thinking of the Ascari Start Version is a $twenty,500 solution, it experienced freaking far better be totally loaded.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

The RS5 gets the exact updates as Audi’s other 2021 A5/S5 types. You can see the redesigned headlights, broader grille and larger exhaust pipes, and inside of, Audi’s up to date MIB 3 infotainment interface is exhibited on a 10.1-inch touchscreen. This tech is terrific — vibrant, responsive and easy to perform by way of, with Google Earth map imagery and a common Wi-Fi link. You can use Apple CarPlay wirelessly or hook up Android Auto with a USB cable. Combined with Audi’s often-awesome Digital Cockpit electronic gauge cluster, the RS5’s tech video game are unable to be defeat.

A different massive get, the RS5’s Sportback form adds a heap of operation. The whole rear hatch opens to expose 21.eight cubic toes of cargo room behind the rear seats, which is far more than double what you get in an RS5 Coupe. You can fold the back bench down to have for a longer period items, far too, building this one of the most purposeful cars close to that won’t get slapped with an SUV or crossover designation.

At least the RS5 seems to be awesome.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

All things regarded, the RS5 Sportback would make a terrific every day driver. But $76,445 (which includes $1,045 for vacation spot) is a whole ton of funds, and if I’m shelling out for an RS-badged Audi, I want it to make me come to feel all the thoughts. Oh, and this Ascari Start Version rings up at $96,945, which would normally make some modicum of perception given its minimal-run position, but not when the RS5 is so inherently meh.

Moreover, if it truly is tranquil competence you happen to be following, why not just get an S5 Sportback? It’s each little bit as high-class and purposeful, and you can get a generously outfitted one for close to $65K. The RS5 may well have an more ninety five hp, but it just isn’t really worth the added price. Try to remember, specs never often tell the whole tale. 

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