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Geneva show: New Audi RS5 aims straight at BMW M3

Ballistic: RS5's naturally aspirated V8 betters the M3 for power and torque.

Audi-BMW fight ratchets up a notch as RS5 coupe targets M3 with mad 331kW V8

23 Feb 2010

LEAKED images have oozed across the internet for days but now we can reveal the first official details and pictures of Audi’s latest answer to BMW’s standard-setting M3 Coupe: the RS5.

Speculation that Audi would stuff a turbocharged V8 into its sleek A5 Coupe to create its newest RS-badged street fighter have proved wide of the mark, with Audi confirming a wicked new version of its 4.2-litre V8 will power the mid-sized all-wheel drive two-door.

Due on sale in Australia by the end of this year following its global premiere at next Tuesday’s Geneva motor show opening, conservative estimates will see the RS5 priced at around $185,000 in Australia.

That’s significantly up on the model it effectively replaces, with the 309kW RS4 last sold in Australia in September 2008, in sedan ($164,500), wagon ($168,100) and cabriolet ($187,500) body styles.

Of course, its most direct rival in the BMW M3 is also available in sedan ($152,300), coupe ($162,900) and convertible ($176,140) guises, while the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG ($148,900) and Lexus IS F ($126,900) are sedan-only alternatives.

Expect the RS treatment is also expected to be applied to the A4 sedan upon which the A5 is based, as well as convertible and even liftback versions in the RS5 Cabriolet and RS5 Sportback respectively.

7 center imageFor now, however, Audi has turned to the free-revving 4.2 V8 found in the R8 supercar and superseded RS4 to lift the all-wheel drive RS5 coupe’s performance outputs to a staggering 331kW (or a neat 450hp) of power at a stratospheric 8250rpm and some 430Nm of torque between 4000 and 6000rpm, matching the flexibility of the M3’s 4.0-litre V8.

That’s 86kW up but 10Nm down on the supercharged 3.0-litre V6 fitted to Audi’s latest S4 and A6 sedans, and 61kW up on the 4.2-litre V8 found in the S5 coupe and cabriolet (which also offer more peak torque at 440Nm).

By way of further comparison, the RS5 matches the power (but not torque) peak of the 5.2-litre V10 engine in Audi’s own S8 super-limo, as well as that of the flagship A8 6.0 LWB’s W12 engine.

More importantly, however, the RS5 is 22kW more powerful than both the M3 (309kW/400Nm) and previous-generation RS4 (309kW/430Nm), which offered maximum power at 7800rpm and peak torque at 5500rpm.

Even more impressively, Audi claims the RS5, which comes with a seven-speed ‘S-tronic’ dual-clutch automated manual transmission, consumes an average of just 10.8 litres of fuel per 100km – down significantly on the old RS4’s thirsty 13.7L/100km average.

The RS5’s direct-injection ‘FSI’ V8 directs power to all four wheels via a new centre differential capable of sending up to 85 per cent of torque to the rear wheels or 70 per cent to the front wheels. It has a rear-biased default torque split of 40/60 and, as with the S4, a rear differential that can distribute torque between the rear wheels will be available as an option.

If buyers request the removal of its electronic speed limiter, the 1725kg RS5 Coupe will also hit a top speed of 280km/h, after blasting to 100km/h in a claimed 4.6 seconds – the same figure quoted by BMW for the M3 Coupe.

The RS5 is differentiated from the S5 by a ‘charcoal-gray rhombus-pattern’ single-frame grille either side of standard Xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights, a unique front bumper with larger air intakes, matt-silver wing mirrors, special 19-inch alloy wheels with 245/35-section tyres, dual oval exhaust outlets within the rear bumper and specific RS badging.

To be available in eight exterior paint colours, it rides 20mm lower than the A5 and runs 356mm front brake discs gripped by callipers with no fewer than eight pistons each. An even wilder brake option will be available, comprising 380mm carbon-ceramic front rotors.

A unique RS5 feature is a rear spoiler that deploys automatically at speeds of more than 120km/h to improve high-speed stability, while three front seat options and 20-inch wheels (with 275/30 tyres) will be available to RS5 buyers.

Like the M3, the RS5 will come with a switchable electronic stability control system featuring normal, sport and off modes, while Audi’s ‘drive select’ vehicle dynamics system will allow drivers to choose between comfort, auto and dynamic modes to vary the performance of the steering, transmission, differential, engine, exhaust and (optional) MMI navigation.

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