I know that it can be rather premature to compare the E92 BMW M3 to the new Audi RS5 considering that no one has driven the new RS5. Can we be a little hypothetical here just for a minute? Okay, great. Let’s take the new E92 BMW M3 with all of its 414hp and 295 ft-lbs. of torque V8 glory and put it up against the new 2011 Audi RS5’s naturally aspirated 450hp and 317 ft-lbs. of torque 4.2-liter V8. What do you get? Obviously you get a much more powerful engine in the RS5. But that’s where I draw the line for the advantages of the RS5 over the current BMW M3.
When comparing cars it comes down to much more than straight-line shear horsepower. You have to consider handling, fit and finish, practicality price, etc. etc. We have listed a few specs from the latest BMW M3 and upcoming Audi RS5 below for comparison. Come up with your own conclusion. For now, I say that the Audi RS5 is more refined than the M3 just from the way it looks. On the other hand, I would say the M3 is more of a raw sports coupe over the RS5. This is just my “current” opinion as I can only go by the numbers. I probably have to wait a long time before I am able to get behind the wheel of the new RS5 to really see if it can overthrow benchmark setting BMW M3.
The new RS5 will debut in Geneva next week and go on sale for $104K (77,700 euros) in the spring only in Europe. Currently there are no plans set in stone to bring the RS5 to the states but let’s keep our fingers crossed.
2011 Audi RS5 Specs (euro)
2010 BMW M3 (E92) Specs
Full 2011 Audi RS5 Press Release
Audi to present the RS 5 in Geneva
* Coupé with 331 kW (450 PS) high-revving V8 engine
* RS 5 also efficient – 10.8 liters per 100 km (21.78 US mpg)
* Newly-developed center differential for quattro drivetrain
Unbridled power lurking in a classically elegant coupé: the Audi RS 5 will debut at the Geneva Auto Show. The high-revving 4.2-liter V8 with its 331 kW (450 hp) unleashes powerful performance while achieving remarkable fuel economy. The seven-speed S tronic and an innovative center differential in the quattro drivetrain transmit power to all four wheels.
Developed by quattro GmbH, the RS models comprise the dynamic spearhead of Audi’s model range. The RS 5 is the latest torchbearer in a tradition dating back over 15 years to the RS 2 Avant: superior handling in the mid-size class.
A close relative of the V10 which powers the high-performance R8 sports car, the high-revving V8 engine delivers its output from a displacement of 4,163 cm3. Like nearly every Audi gasoline engine, this one also operates via direct fuel injection known by the abbreviation FSI. This same technology has propelled the Audi R8 racing car to four triumphs at the classic endurance race in Le Mans. The common-rail system generates up to 120 bars of pressure.
Intensive fine-tuning of the dual-branch intake and exhaust system allows the undersquare engine to breathe freely; four adjustable camshafts and tumble flaps in the intake manifold facilitate mixture formation. The 4.2 FSI provides imposing torque and is right at home even at high revs – almost like a race engine. The engine delivers 331 kW (450 hp) at 8,250 rpm and – between 4,000 and 6,000 rpm – transmits a maximum of 430 Nm (317.15 lb-ft) of torque.
The vigorous strength, the spontaneous responsiveness, the joyful high-revving, and the throaty, sonorous music: this V8 produced by hand at Audi stunningly combines the essence of power and emotion. The 4.2 FSI propels the coupé’s 1,725 kilograms (3,802.97 pounds) in 4.6 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62.14 mph) to an electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h (155.34 mph). Audi can increase that to 280 km/h (173.98 mph) upon request.
Impressive efficiency: just 10.8 liters of fuel per 100 km
Efficiency is standard in every Audi; the RS 5 is no exception. The ultra-powerful eight-cylinder engine averages 10.8 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (21.78 miles US mpg) – far less than its main competitors. This impressive figure is due in part to the technologies from the Audi modular efficiency platform. 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.
The standard seven-speed S tronic in the RS 5 – with its high efficiency ratio and its high-geared top speed – also enhances efficiency. 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, which was specially reinforced to accommodate the high-revving V8, 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 among three different options: auto, comfort, and dynamic. In the launch control program, the seven-speed S tronic ensures flawless acceleration from a standstill – at full power and with minimal tire slip.
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. As for the center differential, which regulates power distribution between the front and rear axles, Audi – the leading all-wheel-drive brand – unveils the next generation: a crown-gear differential.
The self-locking crown-gear center differential is compact and lightweight – and attains a high efficiency ratio.
Thanks to its package of plates, the differential can widely vary the distribution of torque between the front and rear axles. If necessary, up to 70 percent can flow to the front or as much as 85 percent toward the tail end. The 40:60 ratio of the standard rear-biased configuration ensures sporty handling.
This new differential operates in conjunction with electronic torque vectoring, which affects all four wheels. If one of the inside wheels becomes imbalanced while the vehicle is at its operational limits, then the system slightly decelerates the wheel to obviate wheel spin. This results in terrific traction on the one hand while generating a yaw moment which aids cornering.
As a perfect complement to the new quattro drivetrain, Audi can optionally position the sport differential at the rear axle. It actively distributes torque between the rear wheels in order to further boost stability and grip at the vehicle’s limits of handling. The electronic management of the RS 5 sport differential was designed to be uncompromisingly dynamic.
With regard to the springs, shock absorbers, elastokinematics, and the anti-roll bars, the RS 5 chassis exhibits a sporty configuration and renders the body 20 millimeters (0.79 inches) lower than that of the Audi A5. The 19-inch alloy wheels fitted with 265/35 tires are standard. They are executed in an exclusive 5-arm structure design. The RS 5 optionally comes with 20-inch wheels and 275/30 tires. Winter wheels featuring the same dimensions are available; the 19-inch wheel is suitable for snow chains.
The brake system employs powerful and internally ventilated discs, which measure 365 millimeters (14.37 inches) 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 aluminum brake discs. The high-gloss black brake calipers bearing RS logos are likewise made of aluminum; the front calipers are fitted with eight pistons each. Audi can optionally fit the front axle with ceramic carbon-fiber brake discs measuring 380 millimeters (14.96 inches) in diameter. They are extremely lightweight, strong, and durable. The electronic stabilization program (ESP) integrates a sport mode and can be switched off entirely.
Even more dynamics: Audi drive select
The speed-dependent servotronic steering in the RS 5 is especially taut. The standard Audi drive select (a vehicle-dynamics control system) allows the driver to switch among three modes of operation – comfort, auto, and dynamic – to adjust steering, the seven-speed S tronic, the sport differential, the engine, and the exhaust system. And if the car is equipped with the MMI navigation system, a fourth mode allows the driver to customize their own profile.
As regards 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. Along with the sport differential, dynamic steering is another optional component of Audi drive select. Dynamic steering adjusts the steering ratio to a vehicle’s speed – directly for maneuvering at low speeds and indirectly for traveling at highway speeds. At the vehicle’s cornering limits, it automatically ensures smooth handling via minor corrective actions.
The RS 5 exudes an athletic and powerful identity; its classically beautiful coupé styling dazzles with new and clear-cut accents. Its single-frame grille bears a shiny charcoal-gray rhombus-pattern grid. Xenon plus headlights boasting a sweeping strip of LED daytime running lights are standard. The oversized air inlets for the engine, front brakes, and the radiators are bordered by striking contours. The newly designed bumper tapers downward into a splitter.
The flared fenders with the crisp horizontal upper edges are reminiscent of a classic Audi: namely, the all-wheel-drive pioneer Audi quattro, which itself debuted at the Geneva Auto Show 30 years ago. The side sills bear angular caps; the trim strips on the single-frame grille and near the side windows as well as the outside mirrors’ covers feature a matt aluminum look. Eight different paint finishes are available.
The tail end is dominated by two oval exhaust pipes integrated within the bumper. A large diffuser protrudes prominently upward. The spoiler in the tailgate automatically extends at a speed of 120 km/h (74.56 mph) and retracts at 80 km/h (49.71 mph).
The extensively clad underbody of the RS 5 integrates air vents for the seven-speed S tronic and the front brakes. At highway speeds, the aerodynamic characteristics of the RS 5 generate downforce to further enhance stability.
Dynamic elegance: the interior
The vehicle’s dynamically elegant styling extends to the interior. Sports seats with pronounced side sections and integrated head restraints are standard. They are electrically adjustable and feature a leather/Alcantara combination. Alternatives include bucket seats with more prominent contours and folding backrests or ventilated and luxuriously upholstered climate-controlled comfort seats.
The steering wheel has a substantial rim and is covered with perforated leather. The instruments have black gauges and white lettering with distinctive scaling. When the ignition is switched on, the red needles briefly rise high and then drop back down. The driver information system integrates a lap timer for recording circuit times and an oil-temperature gauge. Just like the optional MMI navigation systems’ monitor, it displays an RS greeting upon ignition.
The interior is black and the decorative inlays are made of carbon fiber. A fascia in the instrument panel features a piano finish. The pedals, the footrests, and the optional MMI navigation systems’ control buttons gleam thanks to their aluminum look. Moreover, the door handles consist of two slim strips – typical of Audi RS models. Aluminum inserts adorn the door sill trims and RS 5 logos lend dynamic highlights to the interior.
Upon request, truly exclusive features such as decorative inlays with a dark, stainless-steel mesh look, a black piano finish or brushed aluminum are available. Or seat upholstery featuring special leathers and colors as well as silver headlining. In addition, the Audi exclusive RS program offers options such as suede-covered controls and floor mats bearing RS 5 logos.
A Carbon design package is available for the engine compartment and, for the vehicle body, there are styling packages in black or matt aluminum look. And the acoustically bold Sport exhaust system – also with a sound flap – has black tailpipe trims.
Sales of the Audi RS 5 will begin in the spring. Its basic price will be approximately 77,700 euros.