The 2021 Audi RS5 is a rowdier alternative to the A5 and S5 models—except it’s considerably pricier and not available as a convertible. Still, the RS5 has the highest performance and boldest styling of them all. Its impressive straight-line speed and sharp cornering abilities are attributed to its powerful twin-turbo V-6 and standard Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Despite its intimidating appearance and track-ready hardware, the mighty Audi coupe is actually a comfortable daily driver. It also lacks the uncompromising qualities that make some of its competitors more compelling to drive. Still, its cabin is quilted with opulent surfaces and laden with luxuries such as massaging front seats. While the 2021 RS5 is more beauty than beast, it’s still a beast nonetheless.
What’s New for 2021?
The 2021 RS5 coupe is refreshed in several ways. Its front end now wears a flatter and wider grille that sit below new slits that recall the classic Audi Sport Quattro. It also has wider wheel arches, new accents on the rear diffuser, and larger exhaust pipes. Last year’s infotainment system, which featured an 8.3-inch center display and a rotary controller on the center console, has been replaced with a 10.1-inch touchscreen mounted high in the middle of the dash. Heated rear seats are now standard, too. The Ascari and Black Optic launch editions are also offered for 2021, but there will only be 25 copies of the former and 100 copies of the latter.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
There are not a lot of variables when it comes to shopping for the 2021 RS5. Every model has a 444-hp engine, all-wheel drive, and an in-your-face front end. Its interior is also stuffed with upscale materials, and it has myriad standard and optional features. Among those options, we’d simply recommend the Dynamic and Dynamic Plus packages that help maximize performance. Altogether they add an adaptive sport suspension, a louder exhaust system, carbon-fiber engine cover, ceramic front brakes, and an increased top speed of 174 mph.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Under its sinewy clamshell hood sits a 444-hp twin-turbo V-6. It makes six fewer horses than the outgoing V-8 model, but torque has increased dramatically from 317 lb-ft to 443. The power routes through Audi’s rear-biased Quattro all-wheel-drive system via a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. Behind the wheel, the meanest version of Audi’s sports coupe is easy to control and enjoyable to exploit, with docile handling that is predictable in both wet and dry conditions. The real beauty is how supremely comfortable the RS5 rides over distances short or long. While rivals such as the BMW M4 and the Mercedes-AMG C63 demand more attention during spirited sessions, the Audi is still involving and intoxicating.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The 2021 RS5 only has one powertrain and standard all-wheel drive, which means it only gets one set of fuel-economy ratings from the EPA. The government estimates that the high-powered coupe will get 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. However, we haven’t had a chance to evaluate its real-world efficiency on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The RS5’s interior mixes an array of rich materials and high-tech equipment. The standard front sport seats are supportive during cornering and comfy on road trips. They also feature massage functions to indulge the driver and front passenger. Every cabin includes ambient interior lighting, three-zone climate control, and a panoramic sunroof. Those who want an even fancier experience can choose the optional diamond stitching, fully digital gauge cluster, heated steering wheel, and head-up display. Its fantastic driving position and excellent visibility—for a coupe, at least—are complemented by a back seat that will accommodate two adults of average height. While the coupe isn’t as capacious as the four-door RS5 Sportback that sports a rear hatchback, the regular RS5 still swallowed five of our carry-on suitcases inside its trunk.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Unlike updated Audi models such as the A6 and A7 sedans, the RS5 doesn’t have dual touchscreens that bisect its dashboard and center console. While that makes its infotainment system look less futuristic, we appreciate the RS5’s high-mounted 10.1-inch touchscreen. Of course, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability come standard. A 19-speaker, 755-watt Bang & Olufsen audio system is a standalone option.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2021 RS5 hasn’t been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). While Audi supplies some standard driver-assistance technology, upgrades such as automatic high-beams and self-parking assist cost extra. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Available adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go technology
- Available lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Audi provides a competitive limited and powertrain warranty compared with luxury rivals such as Mercedes-Benz. However, its complimentary maintenance is considerably shorter than what BMW and Jaguar offer.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for one year or 10,000 miles