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

Ascari Blue. What a coloration.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

The 2021 Audi RS5 Sportback has 444 horsepower, 442 pound-feet of torque and can hit 60 mph in lower than 4 seconds. It has Quattro all-wheel drive 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 modern and purposeful, and the RS5 positions itself as one hell of a go-fast all-rounder. So why do not I would like one?


  • Looks nice
  • Comfy cabin
  • Functional cargo maintain
  • Top-notch tech

Don’t Like

  • Numb steering
  • Lacks emotion
  • Ascari Edition is tremendous costly

This automobile’s greatest downside is that it desperately lacks drama. It’s not sufficient for the RS5 Sportback to only be fast, quick or agile. It must be visceral. It must be thrilling. It must make you giggle. You ought to need to drive it tougher and tougher, repeatedly. Audi completely nails this unquantifiable feeling with automobiles like the R8, RS6 Avant and even the electrical RS E-Tron GT. The RS5, by comparability, is form of sterile.

The 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 has loads of shove, nevertheless it’s too quiet — ditto the RS Sport Exhaust. The eight-speed automated transmission shifts shortly and seamlessly, however the small, steering wheel-mounted paddles provide no experiential draw. At least the RS5 is extra fuel-efficient than different sporty compact luxurious automobiles, returning 18 mpg metropolis, 25 mpg freeway and 21 mpg mixed. Normally I’d say good luck hitting these numbers given the RS5’s efficiency stats, however since this automobile actually would not eke you into driving it onerous, these EPA numbers are fairly spot-on.

To its credit score, the RS5’s adaptive dampers make it actually comfy to drive round city, and it will gobble up a whole lot of miles on the freeway. But whenever you name up Dynamic mode and level the RS5 up a mountain street, it is such as you’re forcing it to do one thing it isn’t up for. There’s pronounced physique roll in quick corners and audible protesting from the 275/30R20 Pirelli P Zero tires. You’d assume Audi’s sport steering choice would assist liven issues up, nevertheless it’s too gentle and too numb, no matter drive mode. The ceramic brakes are a lot highly effective, however the inconsistent pedal really feel hampers confidence. Really, the RS5 is happiest whenever you’re rocking a average tempo, which type of defeats the function. The BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63 may not be as well-rounded, however holy smokes are they extra entertaining. And is not that what made you need to buy one among these in the first place?

All the aforementioned efficiency package could be fitted to any RS5, nevertheless it comes commonplace with my take a look at automobile’s limited-run Ascari Launch Edition pack. Only 100 RS5 Sportbacks and 25 RS5 Coupes will likely be optioned like this, painted in the appropriately named Ascari blue, which is a hue so pretty it virtually makes up for a few of this automobile’s shortcomings. Paired with matte aluminum trim, this RS5 seems scorching as heck, and people 20-inch wheels actually fill out the wheel arches for an amazing stance. The special-edition trimline additionally comes with a 360-degree digicam system, head-up show, adaptive cruise management, lane-keeping help, navigation and a bunch of different goodies. Then once more, contemplating the Ascari Launch Edition is a $20,500 choice, it had freaking higher be totally loaded.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

The RS5 will get the identical updates as Audi’s different 2021 A5/S5 fashions. You’ll discover the redesigned headlights, wider grille and bigger exhaust pipes, and inside, Audi’s up to date MIB 3 infotainment interface is displayed on a ten.1-inch touchscreen. This tech is nice — colourful, responsive and straightforward to work by, with Google Earth map imagery and an ordinary Wi-Fi connection. You can use Apple CarPlay wirelessly or hook up Android Auto with a USB cable. Combined with Audi’s always-awesome Virtual Cockpit digital gauge cluster, the RS5’s tech recreation cannot be beat.

Another large win, the RS5’s Sportback form provides a heap of performance. The complete rear hatch opens to disclose 21.8 cubic ft of cargo house behind the rear seats, which is greater than double what you get in an RS5 Coupe. You can fold the again bench down to hold longer objects, too, making this one among the most purposeful autos round that does not get slapped with an SUV or crossover designation.

At least the RS5 seems superior.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

All issues thought-about, the RS5 Sportback would make an amazing day by day driver. But $76,445 (together with $1,045 for vacation spot) is an entire lot of cash, and if I’m shelling out for an RS-badged Audi, I would like it to make me really feel all the emotions. Oh, and this Ascari Launch Edition rings up at $96,945, which might usually make some modicum of sense given its limited-run standing, however not when the RS5 is so inherently meh.

Besides, if it is quiet competence you are after, why not simply get an S5 Sportback? It’s each bit as luxurious and purposeful, and you will get a generously outfitted one for round $65K. The RS5 might need an additional 95 hp, nevertheless it simply is not value the added price. Remember, specs do not at all times inform the complete story. 

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