The Audi RS5 is a majestic performance coupe that’s ready for thrills, all year round.
All hail the almighty snorting German rocket-coupe! With two doors, four seats, all-wheel drive, seven paddle-shifted gears and a furious little V8 spinning to 8,000-plus revs with a smile on its face, the Audi RS5 is a majestic performance coupe that’s ready for thrills, all year round.
This A5 based rocket is anything but docile, and includes torque-vectoring Quattro AWD, available ceramic brakes, a speed-deployable rear spoiler, a sports differential, and the Audi Drive Select system, which lets its operator deploy various RS5 systems in modes ranging from mild to wild.
Feature content includes xenon lighting with headlight washers, a performance Bang & Olufsen audio system, dual-zone climate control, push-button start, adaptive cruise control, Bluetooth, full multimedia connectivity and plenty more. Even if it’s fairly big and heavy and laden with airbags and cupholders and stereo equipment, the RS5 virtually stands alone in offering this level of performance and all-climate readiness in a single package.
According to numerous owners’ posts on RS5-related forums, driving this top-dog rocket coupe requires being prepared for things like excessive attention from the opposite sex, dirty looks from BMW M3 drivers, and frequent and vigorous praise from fans of fast German cars as you drive around on the daily.
All used copies of the RS5 come just one way under the hood: with a 4.2L, high-revving, 450 hp V8, complete with a signature high-strung zing, and a snorty-as-all-heck exhaust note. Think of the RS5 as an R8 with a back seat, and you’re in the right ballpark. A seven-speed dual clutch transmission was standard kit.
What Owners Like
Point and shoot wintertime performance, exceptional acceleration, a gorgeous driveline, generously-sized-for-a-coupe packaging and a full suite of upscale features are among the most commonly-praised attributes owners report. Immediate responses to throttle, braking and steering inputs are also highly rated. Adult friendly rear seats and a relatively tight turning circle round out the package.
What Owners Dislike
Some owners report a rough and fidgety ride with the RS5’s up-sized wheel option, while others wish for more at-hand storage inside for smaller items.
Here are a small number of slightly biased owner reviews
The Test Drive
As the oldest RS5 model you’ll find available for sale is likely less than three and relatively low in mileage, shopping smart for a used copy is largely a function of having your used performance car shopping hat on properly.
Take your time, and don’t let lust cloud your judgment. Then, check the condition of the tires and brakes for excessive wear, noting that the RS5 will be on the pricey side when it comes to replacement parts like these. Assume the seller is trying to sell you worn out tires and brake pads, until you confirm otherwise.
Most shoppers should avoid a model with the carbon ceramic brakes. Adding these brakes only to the front of the RS5 added some $6,000 to the bill. Though they’re track ready and designed for motorsports, even an aggressive driver won’t generate the sort of heat and stress they’re designed for on the road, and will experience higher repair and maintenance costs when the brakes need work or replacement. Simply put, the carbon ceramic brakes are great on a racetrack, though they amount to little more than pricey overkill in real life. Plus, they feel funny until they get hot, unlike good old steel rotors.
Check the condition of the windows, door seals, upper door trim, and confirm proper operation of the power window system, several times. Some owners have reported issues with window regulators and motors, possibly caused by opening frozen or iced-up doors and stressing or shifting the frameless windows, or the in-door hardware attached to them. If the power window system and seals in your used RS5 are healthy, keep them that way by applying some appropriate lubrication around the door seals, and carefully removing all ice from the front windows before you open the door in winter.
Run the RS5’s air conditioner on your test drive, and then open your nose. Do you smell something similar to a gym bag, or dirty socks? If so, the likely culprit is a buildup of mould and dirt in the cabin air pollen filter. This should be changed periodically, and your dealer can take care of it quickly.
Once your new-to-you RS5 purchase is complete, a few things should be observed on a regular basis during your ownership experience. Like many cars, the RS5 is complicated and packed full of computer systems and electronics, some of which draw power from the battery, even when the vehicle is off. As such, keeping your RS5 on a trickle charger while you’re not driving it is a good idea to keep the battery fully charged and prevent possible issues resulting from weak battery output.
Though reliability information isn’t abundant or detailed enough yet, the RS5 may suffer from a number of issues common in other models with similar characteristics as it ages. As the RS5’s engine is direct injected, valve gunk buildup is possible as the vehicle ages. Using top-tier gasoline can, indirectly, help reduce the buildup of valve gunk deposits, which otherwise tend to stay on the intake valve tops, as they’re never exposed to the cleaning properties of gasoline spray. Reduced performance, or the presence of a misfire code in the ECU, are common signs of valve gunk buildup. If these issues are detected, be sure to have them investigated – and documented – by an Audi service department before your warranty runs up.
Keep an eye on oil consumption throughout the RS5’s life, too. Oil should be checked and changed regularly, with only the factory-specified oil type and viscosity used. If you notice a sudden increase in oil consumption (a little is normal, a lot isn’t), be sure to have a dealer inspect and document your concerns, before your warranty runs up.
Your best bet for confident ownership of the lusty RS5 will be to opt for a used model sold as part of a Certified Pre Owned program at an Audi dealership, while opting for any extended warranty coverage that may be available. Though the limited information available on RS5 reliability at the moment points to a low number of issues, most of which are minor in nature, extended warranty coverage is still a good idea to protect yourself from potentially pricey repair bills down the line.
Crash Test Ratings: N/A