Audi S5 vs RS5

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 possible to compare the S5 with the BMW M models and Mercedes-AMG, the RS5 is definitely the more direct competitor. 

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. 

The RS5 (right) has unique styling elements that gives it a sportier appearance than the S5 (left)

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. 

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.

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. 

Only the S5 is offered as a cabriolet (convertible)

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.

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 $52,400. To get the RS5, you’ll need to spend at least $74,200. 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 drag racing or going around a track. 

Meanwhile, the RS5 is the top-of-the-line model that makes sure everyone knows with RS badging lining it from head to toe. 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.

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