Audi Sport has bolstered its line-up with the launch of the 331kW twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6-powered RS5 Sportback.
Revealed at the New York International Auto Show, the new four-wheel drive fastback joins its recently introduced sister models, the RS5 Coupe and RS4 Avant, in an expanded range of new mid-range RS models aimed at providing stiff competition to the likes of the BMW M3 and M4 as well as Mercedes-AMG C63 sedan and coupe.
Australian sales for the first ever RS5 Sportback are planned to get underway during the final quarter of 2018, with officials from Audi Sport suggesting it will be priced close to the RS5 Coupe.
“The Audi RS 5 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 five-door performance coupe has neither predecessor models, nor a direct competitor.”
Distinguishing the RS5 Sportback from other recently introduced second-generation A5 Sportback models are a number of traditional Audi Sport styling cues. 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 matt silver splitter element adorned with the word “quattro”.
As with the RS5 Coupe launched in 2017, the angular headlamps of the RS5 Sportback adopt tinted graphics and have also been altered with the addition of small vertical air ducts along their outer edges.
Further back, the front fenders have been widened by 15mm with wider blisters above the wheel arches while the side sills receive high gloss black styling elements and the exterior mirrors use a carbon fibre optic
At the rear, the RS5 Sportback receives wider rear fenders extending out by the same 15mm over the standard A5 Sportback as those up front as well as a subtle fixed spoiler. There is also 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-inch wheels, although buyers can option it with 20-inch rims. Two additional styling packages in either carbon fibre look or matt silver are also available.
The new RS5 Sportback is powered by the same twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre V6 petrol engine already used by the RS5 Coupe and RS4 Avant. Developed in an engineering partnership between Audi and Porsche, the longitudinally-mounted unit develops a claimed 331kW and 600Nm of torque on a band of revs between 1900 and 5000rpm.
With a claimed kerb weight of 1840kg, this provides the new Audi Sport model with a weight-to-power ratio of 5.6kg/kW.
Official performance figures point to 0-100km/h time of just 3.9sec and limited 280km/h top speed.
Drive is placed through a standard eight-speed torque converter equipped automatic gearbox and a specially tuned version of Audi’s Torsen torque sensing quattro four-wheel drive system. It apportions power in a nominal 40 per cent:60 per cent split between the front and rear axles, to provide the new Audi Sport model with a distinct rear-wheel drive bias.
When a loss of grip or traction is detected, the RS5 Sportback’s four-wheel drive system can alter the delivery of power, sending up to 85 per cent to the front-wheels or alternatively 70 per cent to the rear wheels when required.
Additionally, an optional Sport Differential can be ordered. It 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 handling of its new model during all out cornering.
Underpinning the latest in a growing range of RS models from Audi is a reworked suspension. As well as receiving firmer springs and fixed rate dampers, it has been lowered by 7mm and receives different camber rates to the suspension used by the Audi S5 Sportback.
Buyers can also specify the RS5 Sportback with an optional RS Sport Suspension. It brings even firmer springs together with variable rate dampers as part of a so-called Dynamic Ride Control system, ceramic brakes discs and more direct steering mapping. The optional suspension is coupled with a specially developed version of Audi’s Drive Select system, allowing the driver to individually program the characteristics of the throttle, gearbox, steering and damping.
Inside, the RS5 Sportback gets the traditional go-fast treatment from Audi Sport, with sport seats, a flat-bottom multi-function 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 seat belts and floor mats with RS logos.
Audi Sport claims 480-litres of boot space for its new five-seater, expanding to 1300-litres when the 40:20:40 configured rear seat is folded away.
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