The RS5 has got the BMW M3 firmly in its sights.
Often criticized for not being as engaging as an M3, the Audi RS5 Coupe and its RS5 Sportback sibling are still wondrously capable performance cars. Audi must have concerns around this, however, and has introduced a Competition package for the 2023 model year. So, what can we expect from Ingolstadt's fiery twins?
The melodious 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 remains unchanged and, as such, boasts outputs of 444 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque. That's quite some way behind the M3's standard 473 hp but it's more than sufficient - the Coupe and Sportback can reach 60 mph in 3.7 and 3.8 seconds, respectively.
What has changed, however, is the driving experience. Audi has bestowed Competition models with a 180 mph top speed and developed an exclusive RS sport exhaust system. Aside from the appealing matte black tailpipes, the throaty V6 howl can be heard better thanks to reduced firewall insulation which lowers vehicle mass by nearly 18 lbs.
Revised transmission programming for quicker shifts means tighter load changes when Dynamic drive mode is paired with the gearbox's S setting. The suspension has also been breathed upon by the Audi Sport boffins, with Competition models gaining coilover suspension that lowers the ride by 10mm and a sportier front sway bar. The suspension can be manually lowered by a further 10mm.
Thanks to quattro all-wheel-drive, the RS5 has always been a joy to use on an engaging stretch of road. But, at the end of the day, it's never been quite as engaging as its Bavarian rival. Audi is hoping this package will put things right. To make sure the Audi has a fighting chance, the sports rear differential has been tailored to increase agility while the steering has been reworked to provide more precision.
Stopping power has been upgraded thanks to retuned ABS programming while the red-painted RS ceramic front brakes reduce stopping distance by about 6.5 feet from 62-0 mph. The sizeable brakes live behind five-spoke, Phantom black wheels wrapped in Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires. To emphasize the performance on tap, the badging eschews a chrome finish for menacing gloss black. Matte-effect carbon fiber has been applied sparingly and can be found on the side mirrors, rear diffuser, and front splitter. A classy touch is the similarly-trimmed engine cover.
New for the package is the addition of Sebring Black crystal effect paintwork for those wanting to fly under the radar.
Various changes have been made inside, Audi replacing standard Nappa leather with sportier Pearl Nappa and Dinamica upholstery, enhanced by Piano black side trim and matte carbon inlays around the cabin. Dinamica is also used to wrap the D-shaped steering wheel, shift lever, and center console, all of which receive contrasting crescendo red stitching. This red is mimicked on the seatbelts and floor mats. Additionally, the Competition package receives a special virtual cockpit layout, in the form of a Runway mode.
When opened, an RS Competition logo shines from beneath the doors.
The Competition package gives the RS5 a harder edge - but you pay for these improvements. It costs $16,100, bringing RS5 Coupe and Sportback pricing to $92,000 and $92,300, respectively. For keen drivers, it may just be worth it - if you're interested, orders should begin in June 2022.