Audi RS5 Confirmed for U.S.
Word from the CEO: RS returns!
BY JENS MEINERS, PHOTOGRAPHY BY PETER BURN AND THE MANUFACTURER
Audi is engaging BMW in a thrilling fight over who can make the sportiest premium cars, and the RS models are an important cornerstone in this strategy. Targeting BMW's legendary M line, Audi's RS family currently includes the 340-hp TT RS with its turbocharged straight-five and the 580-hp RS6, which packs a twin-turbo V-10 into either a sedan or wagon body. But alas, no RS model is currently sold in the U.S., and the brand's utterly enjoyable S models are simply outgunned by the M models and the Mercedes-Benz AMG line.
With the RS5, the wait is finally over. Audi CEO Rupert Stadler tells us that the upcoming coupe, powered by a naturally aspirated, 450-hp V-8, is U.S.-bound. That's very good news not only for Audi aficionados, but for anyone shopping in this segment. The RS5's most direct competitors will be the two-door versions of the 414-hp BMW M3 and the 556-hp Cadillac CTS-V, both bringing rear-wheel drive against the Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Mercedes-Benz is abandoning the segment, with no planned AMG version of its new C-class-based but E-class-badged coupe. Interestingly, Audi is sticking to its extremely high-revving engine, an evolution of the former RS4 and current R8 unit, while BMW M and Mercedes-AMG are on the verge of switching to turbocharged engines.
For a while, it seemed like the RS models wouldn't return to the U.S. market. We were told that costly certification requirements and a limited market made it difficult to justify a business case. While that may have been so, some of the most loyal Audi customers were left without a suitable in-house replacement for their beloved RS6s or RS4s, the previous generations of which were sold here. The absence of RS models in a market niche bristling with offers from key competitors made it increasingly difficult for Audi to claim that it is indeed the sportiest of luxury brands.
Stadler had no word yet on pricing, but we expect the new RS5 to be positioned close to the BMW M3. Money aside, we’ll get behind the wheel shortly and report on how well it stacks up agains the benchmark Bimmer.
Source: Car and Driver
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