Audi Sport bolsters its lineup with the launch of the all-new, 444-hp twin-turbocharged 2.9L V-6-powered RS5 Sportback.
Revealed at the New York International Auto Show, the all-wheel-drive fastback joins its recently introduced sister models, the RS5 Coupe and RS4 Avant, in an expanded range of new midrange RS models aimed at taking on the likes of the BMW M3 and M4 as well as Mercedes-AMG’s C63 sedan and coupe.
North American deliveries of the RS5 Sportback are to begin during second-half 2018, with Audi Sport officials suggesting it will be priced close to the RS5 Coupe.
“The Audi RS5 Sportback is more than just a trade fair novelty – it offers something new,” says Michael-Julius Renz, head of Audi Sport. “Our interpretation of a 5-door performance coupe has neither predecessor models, nor a direct competitor.”
Several traditional Audi Sport styling cues distinguish the RS5 Sportback from other recently introduced second-generation A5 Sportback models. They include a wider single-frame grille sporting a high-gloss black honeycomb-effect insert, a more heavily structured front bumper sporting larger air ducts and a more prominent matte-silver splitter element adorned with the word “quattro.”
As with the RS5 Coupe, the RS5 Sportback’s angular headlamps adopt tinted graphics and also have been altered with the addition of small vertical air ducts along their outer edges.
The front fenders have been widened 0.6 ins. (15 mm) with wider blisters above the wheel arches, while the side sills receive high-gloss black styling elements and the exterior mirror uses a carbon-fiber optic.
At the rear, the RS5 Sportback receives wider rear fenders extending by the same 0.6 ins. over the standard A5 Sportback as those up front, as well as a subtle fixed spoiler. There also is a uniquely styled rear bumper housing a high-gloss black diffuser and Audi Sport’s signature oval tailpipes.
The new RS model comes as standard with 19-in. wheels, although 20-in. rims are optional. Two additional styling packages in either carbon-fiber look or matte silver are available.
The new RS5 Sportback is powered by the same twin-turbocharged 2.9L V-6 gasoline engine used by the RS5 Coupe and RS4 Avant. Developed in an engineering partnership between Audi and Porsche, the longitudinally mounted unit develops a claimed 444 hp and 443 lb.-ft. (601 Nm) of torque on a band of revs between 1,900 and 5,000 rpm.
Official performance figures point to a 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time of 3.9 seconds and a limited top speed of 174 mph (280 km/h).
Drive comes through a standard 8-speed torque-converter-equipped automatic transmission and a specially tuned version of Audi’s Torsen torque-sensing quattro all-wheel-drive system. It apportions power in a 40:60 split between the front and rear axles to give the new Audi Sport a distinct rear-wheel-drive bias.
When a loss of grip or traction is detected, the RS5 Sportback’s all-wheel-drive system can alter the delivery of power, sending up to 85% to the front wheels or 70% to the rear wheels when required.
An optional Sport Differential provides a torque-vectoring effect to constantly alter the amount of power delivered to each individual rear wheel in a process Audi Sport says enhances the new model’s handling during all-out cornering.
Inside, the RS5 Sportback gets Audi Sport’s traditional go-fast treatment, with sport seats, a flat-bottom multifunction steering wheel and RS graphics as part of Audi’s virtual-cockpit digital instruments. Options include an RS Design package that includes contrasting red stitching on the steering wheel and gear lever, Alcantara knee pads as well as red seatbelts and floormats with RS logos.
Audi Sport claims 17.0 cu.-ft. (481 L) of trunk space for its new 5-seater, expanding to 45.9 cu.-ft. (1,299 L) when the 40:20:40 configured rear seat is folded away.