DRIVEN: AUDI RS5
Does Audi's latest performance beast live up to its hardcore billing?
There was a nagging worry in the back of my mind before I got into the RS5 the other day though, because every RS or S-badged Audi I've driven since that RS4 - including the RS6 but with the possible exception of the TTS - has been, to a greater or lesser extent, a bit of a disappointment.
But that original V8 RS4, with its gorgeous naturally aspirated V8, tenacious grip and terrier-like nature proves that Audi can produce a proper enthusiast's car when it puts its mind to it, so I remained optimistic.
There are warning signs, though, such as the fact that the RS5 is fitted with a 7-speed S tronic transmission, making it the first RS car to get a double-clutch gearbox. And while we admire the VW group's latest iterations of its twin-clutch tech, this is a type of transmission that lends itself more to a softer GT-style car than a proper RS ought to be.
On the road, the RS5 proves itself to be just what you hope it isn't - that little bit too soft-edged. Sure, the engine is pretty epic, but that S tronic gearbox makes it a little too smooth and refined and - dare we say it? - the otherwise fab engine note is too subdued. There is a satisfying crack-pop on flat-chat upchanges, but overall the experience of accelerating in the RS5 just isn't quite visceral enough.
It's also partly to do with the suspension, which feels as though it treats the bump and flow of the road as an impolite intrusion to be smothered at the first opportunity - exactly the opposite of what the old RS4 and R8 do, which make a virtue out of flowing with the road, making the whole driving experience that bit more involving.