Washington Auto Show Special Report: Audi

2014 RS 5

The Audi RS 5 has long been praised of its technological and engineering genius, with journalists long being fascinated by the intricate quattro all-wheel drive system.  However, in a recent Car & Driver issue in which editors track-tested and compared numerous cars at Virginia International Raceway, the RS 5 was labeled as being a bit slow.  On paper, that’s surely not the case, as the car produces 450 bhp and 317 lb-ft of torque from a massive 4.2-liter V8 at the heart.  But, it makes more sense that this car may feel a bit sluggish as it also weighs in at about 2 tons.

However, a feeling of unadulterated speed and power was not the goal of the RS 5, according to Audi auto show representatives.  Instead, the company wanted to focus on how to transfer 450 horses onto hot tarmac.  Thus comes in the fascinating (and complicated) quattro all-wheel drive drivetrain (a video below explains how this system works).  Transferring the power from the engine to all four wheels comes from a seven-speed S-tronic transmission, the same gearbox that’s used in the R8.

One could argue that the RS 5, has many opponents in its market, however the contender that arises in most minds is the BMW M3.  At the heart of that machine is a 414 horsepower, 4.0-liter V8.  In comparison to the M3, the Audi spokesman described the RS 5 as being similar in straight-line performance, but easier to drive quick.  The RS 5 is told to be easier to drive fast due to the advantage that AWD has over RWD, causing the car to be a described as a “mini GT-R.”

As far as top speed is concerned, the car is electronically limited to two speeds in Europe: 155 mph and 174 mph.  This is due to government sanctions that limits the top speed to a certain maximum.  However, in the U.S., where the government has no limits on top speed (sort of), an unfiltered top speed of the RS 5 can be expected to reach upwards of 180 mph.

In person, the Audi has a somewhat pugnacious presence.  The headlights remind you of an eye shortened by an eyebrow full of anger. The grill has a sort of open-mouthed, predatory look, as if it’s a lion preparing to feast on an defenseless gazelle (replace the gazelle with your average, everyday hybrid).  The side-vents give the car racey look, and the RS badge on the front grill just screams performance.

What you get then, is the ultimate example of why the Germans are making some of the best machines on the market.  The level of engineering is so far beyond the British, Americans, and Japanese that it would take years and millions to catch back up.  Japan has its hybrid technology and Germany has its performance, but if you ask me, I’d take the one with the four rings.

R8 5.2 V10 Spyder

What’s better than an Audi R8?  Well, maybe a 458, a MP4-12C, a GT-R…  At least, that used to be the case before Audi replaced the old, awful gearbox on the previous model with the new R-tronic transmission.  So let me ask the question again.  What’s better than a new Audi R8? One without a roof.

Audi didn’t change much when they decided to chop the top off the new R8 V10, however a weight gain of 220 pounds has been added on to the Audi’s “with-roof” estimate of 2,680 pounds.  Along with the weight gain, Audi also had to do what most manufacturers have to do when getting rid of a roof, which is adding rigidity to the A and B pillars.

At the center (literally) sits a 5.2-liter V10 capable of producing 525 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque.  The quattro all-wheel drive that has caused the great success in the past of the Audi rally cars, allows the car to jump off the line unlike much else on the road today.  That transfer of power to pavement allows the car to barrel from a stand still to 60 mph in 4 seconds, and then reach a top speed of 194 mph.

However, the R-tronic transmission is the center of attention for most when speaking about the new R8.  According to the Audi spokesman, the R-tronic is eerily similar to the Porsche PDK gearbox, however Audi “claims” that there was no technology transfer between the two.  The Audi spokesperson finishes this statement with a shrug.

At the Show, the R8 is center stage, raised about three feet off of the ground and with bright white lights illuminating the carbon-fibre panels and the dark, metallic grey paint color.  With the door open, viewers can peak inside of the R8 and can easily spot the leather seats and dashboard.

The R8 has seemingly been treated with the same amount of care to its counterpart, the RS 5.  Journalists have been ecstatic in their reviews of this car, and from what I can tell, it’s everything that they claim.  Fast, fun and rewarding to drive, and great to look at, the R8 is ready to finally compete against some pretty big names.  It’ll be interesting to see how it does.

Photos and Info from autoblog.com, tuningnews.net, and caranddriver.com

Want to Learn How quattro all-wheel drive Works? Watch This Video on Audi’s Torque Vectoring Differential:

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