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2014 Audi RS 5 Overview
Following the introduction of the performance-oriented RS 5 Coupe in 2013, Audi adds a new Cabriolet to the RS 5 lineup for 2014. Based on the Audi A5 coupes and cabriolets and developed by Quattro GmbH, Audi's in-house sport tuner, the RS 5 Coupe and Cabriolet deliver impressive power and handling, along with good fuel efficiency, well-equipped cabins and distinctive exterior features. The new RS 5 Cabriolet joins the German automaker's expanding stable of track-tuned RS-designated vehicles, which date back to 1994 and the original RS 2 Avant. Like the RS 5 Coupe, the Convertible comes equipped with a naturally aspirated 450-hp V8, Audi's quattro all-wheel drive (AWD) system, a 7-speed automatic transmission and such standard features as a self-locking center differential and torque vectoring, which allows the differential to send varying amounts of torque to individual wheels to ensure optimal stability during aggressive driving maneuvers.
The new RS 5 Convertible also features a power-operated electro-hydraulic soft top, which drivers can raise and lower at speeds up to 31 mph. In addition, Audi offers a new Black Optic exterior package for the 2014 RS 5. The package includes a black optic grille and high-gloss surrounds on the grille and windows, as well as 20-inch wheels with a titanium finish. In other updates, the RS 5's MMI navigation system receives a new Side Assist system for 2014, which monitors blind-spot areas and alerts drivers of approaching vehicles.
The RS 5 Coupe and Cabriolet build on the classic exterior lines of the A5 by adding a number of unique features outside. Up front, Audi's signature deep-mouthed Singleframe grille receives a distinctive black honeycomb design, while the lower air intakes on either side of the grille also get the honeycomb treatment, along with horizontal slats, which help distinguish the RS 5 from the A5 and S5 coupes and cabriolets. The RS 5 also gets track-inspired flared fenders and thin, eyebrow-like HID automatic headlights with LED daytime running lights. The headlights includes a washing system, while the windshield wiper nozzles are heated. Power-adjustable auto-dimming heated side mirrors with memory and integrated LED turn signals also come standard, along with a rear spoiler, rear foglights, LED taillights and RS-specific dual oval exhaust pipes. A wide-body design, aluminum exterior trim and unique door sills are also part of the RS exterior package.
While the RS 5 Coupe and Cabriolet display attractive and unique exterior features, the real story lies under the hood. Audi equips the RS 5 with a newly revised 4.2-liter FSI V8, which pumps out 450 hp and 316 lb-ft of peak torque at 4,000–6,000 rpm. The V8 links to a 7-speed S tronic automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode, accessed either with the shift knob or steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Testers say the transmission offers fast, smooth shifts, and working with the V8, it propels the RS 5 from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds (4.9 seconds for the Cabriolet). Audi limits top speed to 174 mph. Fuel economy numbers check in at a relatively decent 16 mpg city/23 highway, which is good enough to avoid the gas guzzler tax. Premium fuel is recommended. The sport-tuned exhaust produces a pleasant growl, especially when idling and accelerating.
While the European version of the RS 5 delivered a controlled yet somewhat harsh ride, the North American version features a retuned suspension that's slightly more forgiving, yet still responsive and nimble. The RS 5 rides on a performance-oriented suspension with a 5-link configuration and a stabilizer bar in the front, while the rear receives unique RS 5 sport suspension calibration. Audi's quattro AWD system comes standard and integrates with a rear sport differential, which distributes power to the rear wheels for optimal traction. Audi's Drive Select system, which comes standard, gives drivers the option of changing the vehicle's handling characteristics by choosing from Comfort, Dynamic, Auto or Individual settings. Large ventilated front and rear disc brakes provide plenty of stopping power, while optional ceramic brakes reduce the vehicle's overall weight and provide better heat dissipation. The RS 5 rides on 19-inch RS-design wheels with summer performance tires. Upgraded 20-inch wheels are available.
The Audi RS 5 seats 4 passengers in a 2+2 arrangement. Legroom in the rear seat can be tight for taller passengers, who will also find limited headroom in the Coupe due to the sloping roofline. However, the front seats offer plenty of legroom and headroom and are supportive enough for longer trips. Both the Coupe and the Cabriolet come in a single well-equipped trim, with such standard features as Nappa leather upholstery with contrast piping, heated 12-way power-adjustable front sport seats with power lumbar support and driver's-side memory, 3-zone automatic climate control, a panoramic tilting sunroof and keyless start. The 3-spoke flat-bottom sport steering wheel features paddle shifters and a tilt/telescopic column, while RS-specific carbon interior inlays and a black cloth headliner help create an upscale feel in the cabin. Climate-controlled seats and neck-level heating vents are among the interior options.
Tech features include Audi's 10-speaker, 180-watt concert audio system with HD radio, SiriusXM satellite radio, a CD player, Bluetooth and an iPod port. It's managed through the automaker's MMI system, which includes a 6.5-inch color screen. A parking system with front and rear sensors also comes standard on the RS 5, along with Audi's Connect system, which provides in-vehicle Wifi and localized weather and information. Options include Audi's MMI navigation system with a 7-inch color display and the new Side Assist system, which monitors blind spots. Owners can also add a 14-speaker, 505-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system (12 speakers in the Cabriolet).
Cargo space in the trunk measures 12.4 cubic feet in the RS 5 Coupe and 10.4 cubic feet in the Cabriolet. A standard storage system includes side pockets, floor tie-downs and bag hangers. In the Cabriolet, the rear seatbacks split and fold individually, and a pass-through from the trunk enables owners to carry longer items.
Eight airbags come standard on the RS 5, along with such safety features as electronic stability control, traction control and antilock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist. Audi also offers a new optional adaptive cruise control system, which uses long-distance radar to maintain an acceptable distance from the vehicle ahead. The 2014 RS 5 has not been safety-tested, but the similar A4 sedan was named a Top Safety Pick in 2013.
The 2014 RS 5 competes against such vehicles as the BMW M3, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG and the Cadillac CTS-V. While the RS 5 doesn't quite keep up with its competitors in off-the-line matchups, it excels in other areas, such as its overall efficiency and the fit and finish of its cabin. Owners who seek a sport-oriented screamer might want to look elsewhere, but those who prefer a well-balanced and overall competent performance-oriented vehicle should definitely put the RS 5 near the top of their list.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in Florida.