Audi S5 vs RS5

What difference does the 'R' make?

Audi S5 vs RS5

The Lowdown

Both Audis are souped-up A5s, but the RS5 is designed by Audi subsidiary Audi Sport GmbH and offers even greater performance–but it doesn't come cheap.

2021 Audi S5 Premium

MSRP
$52,500
Body Type
Hatchback
Horsepower
349
Weight
3,924 lbs
Seating
5
MPG (City/Hwy)
20 / 28

2021 Audi RS5 2.9 TFSI

MSRP
$75,400
Body Type
Hatchback
Horsepower
444
Weight
4,057 lbs
Seating
5
MPG (City/Hwy)
18 / 25

Note: Images shown may not represent trims

The Audi S5 is the performance version of the Audi A5, a popular regular Audi available as a coupe and sportback. Compared to the A5, it has a bigger engine, Quattro all-wheel drive as standard and some subtle styling differences. Of course, those luxuries all cost you extra.

So where exactly does that leave the RS5? The ‘Racing Sport’ version of the A5, the RS5 is actually designed by Audi AG subsidiary Audi Sport GmbH, and is the highest-performance variant. Although it’s fair to compare the S5 with the BMW M models and Mercedes-AMG, the RS5 is definitely Audi’s true answer to its rivals racing divisions.

Those interested in the S5 are no doubt willing to pay a premium for performance over the A5, but is it worth going all out with the RS5? Let’s take a closer look at the differences.

Design

The Audi A5, S5 and RS5 are all built from the same foundation. But while the visual differences between the A5 and S5 are very subtle, the difference between the S5 and RS5 are much more noticeable to the untrained eye.

Audi S5 rear view
S5
Photo: Audi
Audi RS5 rear view
RS5
Photo: Audi

On the exterior you’ll find side skirts, Quattro branding, bigger 19” rims, intakes besides its head and tail lights as well as the exclusive RS front grill and oval tailpipes.

On the inside, things are identical to the S5⁠—apart from the sporty ‘S’ badging being replaced by the even sportier ‘RS’ badging, of course.

Audi S5 interior
Photo: Audi
Audi S5 interior

Speed And Acceleration

Of course, the difference in performance is what the comparison between the S5 and RS5 is all about.

The RS5 actually shares the same core V6 TFSI® engine found in the Audi S5, but other differences give it a ~100 horsepower (444 hp vs 349 hp) advantage. The RS5’s engine has two turbos instead of one and a different bore which makes it a 2.9-liter (as opposed to the Audi S5’s 3.0-liter) engine.

The additional turbocharger means each turbo is responsible for just three cylinders, meaning less turbo lag and more power. Torque is also higher with the RS5, producing 443 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm vs 369 @ 3,100 rpm produced by the S5.

What does this all mean for the driver? The RS5 can go from 0-60 mph in just 3.7 seconds, beating out the likes of the Mercedes AMG C63 and Porsche 911 Carrera. It’s electronically limited to 155 mph, but purchasing the Dynamic package will unlock its full potential – a blazing top speed of 174 mph.

The S5 can also reach an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph, but 0-60 mph will take 4.5 seconds.

Handling and Ride Quality

The RS5 has a slightly lower center of gravity and custom RS sports suspension that gives it better handling capabilities. Combine this with its higher power output and you get a car that comes out of corners faster and is just a much more formidable track car.

However, those preferring a peaceful ride will prefer the S5’s less harsh ride and quieter cabin.

Body Type Availability

The Audi S5 is available in 3 body types: coupe, four-door sportback and cabriolet. The RS5 is available as a coupe and four-door sportback, but those hoping to drive without a roof will have to look elsewhere.

Audi RS5 coupe
Photo: Audi
Audi RS5 coupe

Price and Value For Money

At this point it should be pretty clear that the RS5 is the faster car, but at what premium?

Both the S5 coupe and sportback start at $52,500. To get the RS5, you’ll need to spend at least $75,100. That’s over $20k more!

Contrast this with the difference between the Audi A5 and S5. The gap in performance between the two is similar to the gap between the S5 and RS5, but the price gap is just $8k.

Whereas, upgrading from the A5 to the S5 seems like good value for money, going from the S5 to the RS5 feels like a very steep premium for squeezing some extra juice out of the V6 engine. Then again, you also get bragging rights and join a much more exclusive club of RS5 owners.

Verdict

Overall, choosing between a S5 and RS5 ultimately comes down to where your priorities lie.

The S5 is still a very capable performance car and quite honestly, you won’t notice much difference as a driver unless you find yourself behind the starting line of a drag race.

But, then again, the RS5 is the top-of-the-line model. And lined from head to toe with its RS badging, everyone will know you aren’t in an ordinary Audi. You end up paying a hefty premium over the S5 for a fairly small difference, but you do end up with the best of the best.

Full Comparison Table

2021 Audi S5 Premium2021 Audi RS5 2.9 TFSI
Performance
Engine3.0-liter Turbo V6 Gas2.9-liter Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
Horsepower349 hp @ 6300 rpm444 hp @ 6700 rpm
Torque369 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm442 lb-ft @ 4700 rpm
Transmission8-Speed Automatic8-Speed Automatic
DrivetrainAll-Wheel DriveAll-Wheel Drive
Handling
Steering TypeRack-PinionRack-Pinion
Turning Diameter (ft.)38.438.4
Front SuspensionMulti-LinkMulti-Link
Rear SuspensionMulti-LinkMulti-Link
Front Wheel Size18" x 8.5"19" x 9"
Rear Wheel Size18" x 8.5"19" x 9"
Front TireP245/40YR18P265/35YR19
Rear TireP245/40YR18P265/35YR19
Fuel Economy
MPG - Combined2321
MPG - City2018
MPG - Hwy2825
Gas Tank Size (gallons)15.315.3
Cruising Range - City (miles)306275.4
Cruising Range - Hwy (miles)428.4382.5
CO2 Emissions, 15K mi/year (tons)7.78.5
Exterior Dimensions
Length (in.)187.2188.3
Height (in.)54.655.1
Max Width (in.)72.673.5
Front Width (in.)62.562.9
Rear Width (in.)61.762.5
Wheelbase (in.)111.2111.3
Weight (lbs.)39244057
Interior Dimensions
Passenger Capacity55
Legroom - front (in.)41.341.3
Headroom - front (in.)37.837.8
Shoulder Room - front (in.)55.755.7
Legroom - rear (in.)35.135.1
Headroom - rear (in.)3737
Shoulder Room - rear (in.)54.554.5
Infotainment
BluetoothStandardStandard
Hard Disk DriveNot AvailableNot Available
HD RadioOptionalStandard
Satellite RadioOptionalStandard
MP 3 PlayerStandardStandard
Premium Sound SystemNot AvailableStandard
Wifi HotspotNot AvailableStandard
Aux Audio InStandardStandard
Entertainment SystemNot AvailableNot Available
Comfort
Head Up DisplayNot AvailableOptional
Navigation SystemNot AvailableOptional
Steering Wheel Audio ControlsStandardStandard
Power LiftgateStandardStandard
Power Mirror SStandardStandard
A CStandardStandard
Adaptive Cruise ControlNot AvailableOptional
Automatic ParkingNot AvailableOptional
Climate ControlStandardStandard
Cooled Front Seat SNot AvailableNot Available
Cooled Rear Seat SNot AvailableNot Available
Cruise ControlStandardStandard
Hands Free LiftgateNot AvailableNot Available
Heated Front Seat SStandardStandard
Heated Rear Seat SNot AvailableStandard
Heated Steering WheelOptionalStandard
Keyless EntryStandardStandard
Multi Zone A CStandardStandard
Power Driver SeatStandardStandard
Power Passenger SeatStandardStandard
Remote Engine StartNot AvailableNot Available
Remote Trunk ReleaseStandardStandard
Seat MemoryOptionalStandard
Universal Garage Door OpenerStandardStandard
Seat MassageStandardStandard
Rear A CStandardStandard
Keyless StartStandardStandard
Navigation From TelematicsNot AvailableNot Available
TelematicsStandardStandard
Interior Trim
Bucket SeatsStandardStandard
Cloth SeatsStandardStandard
Leather SeatsStandardStandard
Leather Steering WheelStandardStandard
Premium Synthetic SeatsStandardStandard
Vinyl SeatsStandardStandard
Woodgrain Interior TrimNot AvailableNot Available
Sun MoonroofStandardStandard
Safety
Back Up CameraStandardStandard
Cross Traffic AlertNot AvailableNot Available
Rear Parking AidOptionalStandard
Blind Spot MonitorOptionalOptional
Lane Departure WarningStandardStandard
Lane Keeping AssistNot AvailableOptional
ABSStandardStandard
Night VisionNot AvailableNot Available
Tire Pressure MonitorNot AvailableStandard
Brake AssistStandardStandard
Stability ControlStandardStandard
Traction ControlStandardStandard
Airbags
Driver Air BagStandardStandard
Front Head Air BagStandardStandard
Front Side Air BagStandardStandard
Knee Air BagStandardStandard
Passenger Air BagStandardStandard
Rear Head Air BagStandardStandard
Rear Side Air BagOptionalOptional
Seatbelt Air BagNot AvailableNot Available
Warranty
Basic4 Years / 50,000 Miles4 Years / 50,000 Miles
Corrosion12 Years / Unlimited Miles12 Years / Unlimited Miles
Drivetrain4 Years / 50,000 Miles4 Years / 50,000 Miles
Roadside Assistance4 Years / Unlimited Miles4 Years / Unlimited Miles
Maintenance-1 Years / 10,000 Miles