Audi expanded its portfolio of high-performance machines with the RS 5 Sportback. It takes the RS 5 coupe’s engine and chassis wizardry and packs them into a more family-friendly package with four doors and a large hatch. It’s a recipe that makes it a unique proposition in its segment.
The RS 5 Sportback started life as an A5 Sportback, a model positioned as the A7‘s smaller sibling. It surfs the industry’s downsizing wave with a twin-turbocharged, 2.9-liter V6 engine that makes 444 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. The six-cylinder shifts through an eight-speed automatic transmission and it channels its power to all four wheels; this is an Audi, after all. Quattro comes standard, and it’s tuned to send 60 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear axle to provide a more engaging driving experience.
The brand promises Sportback drivers can reach 60 mph from a stop in under four seconds and go on to a top speed of 155 mph. If you really have a need for speed, the optional Dynamic Plus package raises the Sportback’s top speed to 174 mph. Big speed requires big brakes, and Audi equipped the RS 5 Sportback accordingly.
Power is only one part of the equation. Audi’s designers drew inspiration from the race-winning 90 quattro IMSA GTO as they punched out the wheel arches to give the Sportback a wide-body look and chiseled sizable air vents into the front bumper. The RS makeover also includes honeycomb inserts in the grille, high gloss black trim, model-specific trim, and the usual assortment of RS emblems. You’ll also notice the RS 5 sits lower than the A5 Sportback thanks to sportier suspension settings Audi dialed in.
Like the coupe, the Sportback comes standard with a virtual cockpit, which is Audi-speak for a digital instrument cluster. The high-resolution, driver-configurable unit displays information about the car such as speed, the engine’s revolutions, navigation information, and more. The cool part about the system is the driver can use the buttons on the flat-bottomed steering wheel to zoom in and out of the map as needed.
Here’s where the hatchback body style comes into play. Though it’s a sports car, and a brutal one by the sound of it, the RS 5 offers a reasonably spacious cabin with space for four passengers and nearly 22 cubic feet of trunk space. Fold the rear seats down and you’re ready for a 444-hp, 35-cube run to Ikea.
The 2019 Audi RS 5 Sportback will begin to arrive in showrooms in the second half of the year. Look for a pricing announcement before then. When it lands, it will compete in the same segment as the Mercedes-AMG C63, the BMW M3, and the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, though all three of its main rivals are conventional sedans without the space and design benefits of the Sportback’s fastback-like silhouette.