Thirty years after the original Audi quattro captivated the Geneva Motor Show, the new Audi RS 5 Coupe is about to do it proud with a combination of high-revving V8 power, super fast S tronic twin-clutch gear shifting and a new evolution of the world famous all-wheel-drive system featuring the latest differential technology. Following its debut at the 2010 Geneva Show, the extreme RS reinterpretation of the elegant A5 two-door is expected to open for order in the UK in the spring priced at circa £58,500, and will reach its first customers in October.

Developed by Audi high performance engineering and styling subsidiary quattro GmbH, the RS 5 is the latest in an illustrious lineage dating back over 15 years to the RS 2 Avant. This RS can of course also trace its roots to the original or ‘Ur' quattro launched in Geneva in 1980, but also to the critically acclaimed R8 sports car, the V10 FSI engine from which provides the technological basis for the new hand-built, high-revving 4.2-litre V8 FSI engine that spins freely and charismatically to 8,250pm, and delivers its 450PS peak output at this high point. A torque maximum of 430Nm is available between 4,000 and 6,000rpm, helping to power the new, 1725kg RS 5 to 62mph in 4.6 seconds and to an electronically governed 155mph top speed.

Intensive fine-tuning of the dual-branch intake and exhaust system allows the engine to breathe freely; four adjustable camshafts and tumble flaps in the intake manifold facilitate mixture formation. This not only maximises performance but also economy – up to 26.2mpg is possible. The engine and the entire drivetrain have been optimized to minimize friction, the oil pump operates on demand and an energy-recovery system conserves energy during coasting and braking.

Specially reinforced for its latest role, the remarkable seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch transmission makes its RS debut in the RS 5, and with its high gearing also helps to minimise fuel usage. It consists of two clutches and two subsidiary transmissions. Both subsidiary transmissions are continuously active, but only one is powered at any given time by the engine. Gears are alternately shifted by the two clutches – at lightning speed, smoothly, and almost imperceptibly.

The seven-speed S tronic can operate in fully automatic mode – or the driver can shift via the innovative selector lever or shift paddles on the steering wheel. By means of the standard Audi drive select, the driver can switch in automatic mode between three different options: auto, comfort, and dynamic. In the launch control mode, the seven-speed S tronic ensures flawless acceleration from a standstill – at full power and with minimal losses in traction.

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New quattro technology: the crown-gear differential
Like all RS models, the RS 5 also applies its power to the road with quattro permanent all-wheel drive, but this latest generation model has evolved further through a next generationcentre differential known as a crown-gear differential.

The self-locking crown-gear centre differential is compact and lightweight, and attains a high efficiency ratio. Thanks to its package of plates, it can widely vary the distribution of torque between the front and rear axles. If necessary, up to 70 per cent can flow to the front or as much as 85 percent towards the rear. The 40:60 ratio of the standard rear-biased configuration ensures highly responsive handling.

This new differential operates in conjunction with electronic torque vectoring, which influences all four wheels. If one of the inside wheels in a turn becomes imbalanced while the vehicle is at its operational limits, then the system slightly decelerates the wheel to prevent wheel spin. This results in exceptional traction on the one hand while generating a yaw moment which aids cornering.

The rear axle also features an already much praised new Audi driver aid – the sport differential - which actively distributes torque between the rear wheels in order to further boost stability and grip at the vehicle's limits of handling.

Dynamic Ride Control (DRC)
The latest generation version of the Dynamic Ride Control (DRC) system as used by the RS 6 also contributes to the exceptional handling capabilities exhibited by the RS 5. DRC connects shock absorbers on each side of the car diagonally to their counterparts by way of a central valve, which directs a flow of oil to provide additional damping force whenever a shock absorber is compressed, making for impressive gains in handling precision and stability. Via the Audi drive select system, the driver will be able to choose from three damper settings - comfort, dynamic and sport – according to preference and conditions.

With its RS-specific spring, damper and anti-roll bar settings, the RS 5 chassis sits 20 millimetres lower than that of the Audi A5 on 19-inch alloy wheels fitted with 265/35 tyres. These are executed in an exclusive 5-arm structure design. 20-inch wheels with 275/30 tyres are available at extra cost.

The brake system employs powerful internally ventilated discs, which measure 365 millimetres in diameter at the front axle. In order to maximize the dissipation of heat, the steel friction rings are perforated and connected by pins to the aluminium brake discs. The high-gloss black brake calipers bearing RS logos are made of aluminium, and the front units are fitted with eight pistons each. Ceramic carbon-fibre brake discs measuring 380 millimetres in diameter can also be specified as an optional extra. They are extremely lightweight, strong, and durable. The electronic stabilization program (ESP) incorporates a sport mode and can be switched off entirely.

Even more acutely controllable: Audi drive select
The Audi drive select vehicle dynamics control system is a standard feature of the new RS 5. It allows the driver to switch between three modes of operation – comfort, auto, and dynamic – to adjust the steering weighting, the shift points for the seven-speed S tronic, the sport differential, Dynamic Ride Control, the engine and the exhaust system. And if the car is equipped with the optional MMI navigation system, a fourth mode allows the driver to customize their own profile.

For maximum enjoyment of the engine, Audi drive select controls the exhaust system's two throttle valves and the sound flaps; when they open, the rich sound becomes even more resonant. An optional Sport exhaust system offering an even more addictively bass-heavy V8 soundtrack is available at extra cost.

For even greater control over the steering, a dynamic steering option is also available at extra cost as a component of Audi drive select. The system adjusts the steering ratio to a vehicle's speed – directly for manoeuvring at low speeds and indirectly for travelling at motorway speeds. At the vehicle's cornering limits, it automatically ensures smooth handling via minor corrective actions.

The remarkable abilities which all these technologies convey on the RS 5 are highlighted subtly by its body, without tainting the purity of its classically beautiful coupe lines. The single-frame grille bears a shiny charcoal-grey rhombus-pattern grid and is flanked by xenon plus headlights with LED strip daytime running lights, below which are oversized air inlets. The newly designed bumper tapers downward into a splitter.

The flared wings with their crisp horizontal upper edges are reminiscent of the pioneering Audi quattro, and the side sills bear angular caps. The trim strips on the single-frame grille and near the side windows as well as the door mirror covers feature the distinctive matt aluminium RS look.

The tail end is dominated by two oval exhaust pipes integrated within the bumper. A large diffuser protrudes prominently upwards. The spoiler in the tailgate automatically extends at a speed of 75mph and retracts at 50mph.

The extensively clad underbody of the RS 5 integrates air vents for the seven-speed S tronic and the front brakes. At motorway speeds, the aerodynamic characteristics of the RS 5 generate downforce to further enhance stability.

Dynamic elegance: the interior
The subtle embellishments continue in the interior, which in classic RS fashion combines black Silk Nappa leather upholstery with carbon fibre and aluminium elements and additional features such as an oil temperature gauge and lap timer for circuit use. Electrically adjustable super sports seats with pronounced side sections and integrated head restraints are standard, and at extra cost these can be replaced by bucket seats with more prominent contours and folding backrests or ventilated and luxuriously upholstered climate-controlled comfort seats. Equipment will of course also befit the RS badge.