BRINGING SEXY SPORTBACK

AUDI RS5 SPORTBACK

TIM ROBSON

BRINGING SEXY SPORTBACK

Model Audi RS5 Sportback

Engine 2894cc V6 (90°), dohc, 24v, twin-turbo

Max power 331kW @ 5700-6700rpm

Max torque 600Nm @ 1900-5000rpm

Transmission 8-speed automatic

Weight 1695kg

0-100km/h 3.9sec (claimed)

Fuel economy 8.8L/100km

Price $157,700

WHEN IS A sedan not a sedan? Why, when it’s a Sportback, of course. Seemingly conceived specifically to send car-styling purists into paroxysms of rage, the odd combo of swept coupe roofline, two rear doors and a hatchback-esque tailgate may, at first, seem at odds with the mission statement of Audi’s sporty RS line-up.

Take a closer look, though, and the truth is revealed – it’s just a different take on the sedan. Five seats? Yep. Decent cargo capacity (480 litres with seats up and 1300 down)? You bet.

Take the other two cars on the same RS plane – the three-door RS5 coupe and the hound-tastic RS4 Avant – and it’s a tidy box set.

Given its lineage, you won’t be surprised to learn that the RS5 Sportback shares its 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 with the others, along with its crown-gear diff set-up and eight-speed automatic transmission.

The sportified interior treatment is likewise familiar – although the circa 2015 centre console and multimedia ensemble look a bit last season following the arrival of the new A7.

Thank goodness for the digital dash, then, even if the multiple screen modes are a bit complex and unwieldy to use. At least the included head-up display helps simplify things a tad.

With all 331kW and 600Nm present and correct – and just a 40kg increase in weight over the 1655kg Coupe – you won’t be surprised to learn that performance levels are similar. The RS5 is more of a pin hammer when compared to the 10-pound sledge of something like a Mercedes-AMG C63S, but sometimes it’s the quiet ones that need watching.

With a fat wedge of torque available from just off tick-over, the RS5 has no trouble building pace. It’ll fire through to 100km/h from rest in a claimed 3.9sec and onto 250km/h, if you dare. Whang the Sportback in its sportiest mode and the deep, throaty warble is a pleasure to invoke... albeit still slightly too muted for these ears.

The adaptive steering is weighty, if a little artificially so, but it’s easy to direct at pace. Audi’s diagonally linked adaptive dampers work well with the steel springs and stiff roll structure to adhere the RS5 to our rippled and pothole-blasted B-roads, but road noise on coarse-chip from the low-profile ContiSport rubber is too intrusive.

The standard steel brakes are bonzer and all most drivers will ever really need, but there are expensive carbonceramics available, if you must.

Rear-seat leg-room will be fine for most, but not ideal for taller folk on longer drives. At least there’s plenty of room for extra luggage in this milemunching, softly spoken limit basher.

TIM ROBSON

PLUS

Smooth, relentless pace; room for five and your gear

MINUS

V6 lacks the sledgehammer punch of AMG’ rival

Coming attractions

The new metal we’re driving next issue

1 MAZDA 3

People who know their stuff are calling the new 3 ”this year’s most important car”, and while we’ve driven it in the US, we’re yet to see what it’s like on Aussie roads. Expect a higherquality cabin with improved NVH, plus standard sat-nav and radar cruise even on the base model. If it’s as good to drive here as it looks, life’s about to get tough for the 3’s rivals.

2 HYUNDAI KONA EV

The EV onslaught continues for the Korean giant with the arrival of a pure electric version of its striking-looking small SUV. Following as it does in the zippy wake of the Ioniq, Hyundai claims the Kona EV has been tested and tuned locally to cope with our ‘special’ roads. Expect a claimed range of 480km from the 64kWh powerpack. The big reveal, though, will be the price...

3 RANGE ROVER EVOQUE

Before the Velar blew our socks off, the Evoque was the pinnacle of Range Rover style, and this second-generation is looking to wrest back the mantle. Bigger and presumably better in key areas, it will introduce a 48-volt mild-hybrid at launch, followed by a PHEV later. For the average driver, however, the three diesel and four turbopetrol engines will be of more interest. Prices will start at $64,640 for the TD4 150, an $8590 increase over the old base model. Ouch.