VOGUE, July 2018 (LINK)

We take Audi's executive grand tourer muscle car for a spin.

When it was released this time last year, the second generation Audi RS5 heralded a new chapter in the German performance maker’s power-playbook. It was chosen as the first model in Audi Sport’s newly relaunched high-performance line, known as “RS” (short for RennSport or “racing sport” in German), which came with a promise by Audi to double its model count by 2020, with eight of those to hit the road by the end of the year.

So far, we’ve seen some standouts – the new RS3 Sportback and Sedan (the line’s most popular), the slightly larger RS4 Avant, TTRS and R8 RWD variant, with more to come, including the RSQ5 SUV and Audi’s supremely-hyped e-tron electric range. However, despite the versatility of the V8-powered RS6 wagon, the cool, city-friendliness of the RS3 is and the iconic racing legacy and lines of the R8, no other model in the RS performance line-up possesses the sleek, executive stance and grand tourer comfort of the RS5 Coupe.

The all-black cabin is glove-like, garnished with the Audi Sport design cues, from the honeycomb detailing to subtle race-styling in the two-tone seatbelts and via puddle lighting, which projects “Audi Sport” onto the road when you open the door. But the cabin is most sumptuously presented with the all-black Nappa leather-optioned race seats (complete with massage function upfront), arguably the most comfortable in the class. Couple all that with a steering wheel wrapped in performance fabric, Alcantara, for grip and feel to match the car’s on-road guts and stability, a 19-loudspeaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, Wi-Fi hotspotting, wireless charging and an incredibly well-designed digital tach/virtual cockpit and heads up display, and you’ll start to see the thought Audi’s design team has put in (note: most of these are optional extras that our test car was fitted with). In the back, there’s even enough room for two fully-grown adults, and a shockingly huge payload should you drop the back seat flat.

While the RS5 traditionally appealed to refined muscle car lovers, thanks to the first generation’s V8, the 2018 model now boasts a 2.9L, V6 bi-turbo, developed from the ground up, and, compared to its older sibling, brags more torque, performance and better efficiency. It’s also lighter in weight than its predecessor, despite, in all honesty, it still feeling portlier than its 1655kgs. What does make it the ultimate getaway car, however, is its ability to sail effortlessly over bumps and uneven roads (hello ride control and adaptive dampers), stick on the bends and, as one observant passenger described its power to me, if you point it at the sun, you’ll end up at the horizon.

Finding a car that sits as cosily in the centre of the power, sportiness, style and comfort Venn diagram as the RS5 does, isn’t an easy feat. Often, sportiness takes over style, resulting in over-tricked, sartorially-challenged performance packages (that might do cool things for one’s inner-racer, but not so much for image). Or the flipside encounter: high-end plushness with middle of the road styling, often landing one in a slightly snoozy space – I could name at least three luxury automotive brands that are repeat offenders of this. The RS5, on the other hand, somehow manages to land squarely on its planted, Quattro-powered wheels, with style.

From $156, 600* (as tested $170, 546*), 2.9L V6 bi-turbo, 331kW, 600Nm, 0-100km/h in 3.9 seconds, 8.8l/100km.

*Manufacturer’s list price, does not include dealer delivery and government statutory charges