Performance precedes practicality on sports coupes such as the Audi RS5, but the 2022 RS5 Sportback successfully balances those two attributes. Although the four-door Audi has the sleek shape of a sedan, there’s a cleverly disguised hatchback opposite its intake-dominant face. It’s that menacing front end, blistered fenders, and 444-hp twin-turbo V-6 that separate the RS5 hatch from its less eccentric family members: the four-cylinder A5 Sportback and the 349-hp S5 Sportback. The RS5’s engine doesn’t always make beautiful music, but its union with a snappy eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive moves it with dogged determination. Its sharply tuned chassis also helps deliver an entertaining driving experience, even if the sportiest damper setting causes a jittery ride. With a racy and roomy interior and myriad luxury features, the 2022 RS5 Sportback is fabulously functional, but it’d benefit from more character and warmth.
What’s New for 2022?
For 2022, the RS5 Sportback receives several enhancements and updates. The new RS Design package adds floor mats with the “RS” logo; microsuede on the center console, shifter, and steering wheel; and seatbelts with red accents. The new Bronze Styling package includes black exterior badging, as well as a front spoiler and rear diffuser in matte carbon. Plus, it adds a set of bronze 20-inch wheels with summer performance tires. And the cabin gets accented with bronze stitching. Not satisfied with an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph? Now, with the new Dynamic Plus package, that limit is lifted to 174 mph. The upgrade also brings with it a carbon-fiber engine cover, gray brake calipers, and ceramic front brakes.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The RS5 Sportback’s sole engine choice is a twin-turbo 2.9-liter V-6 that makes 444 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. It pairs with a paddle-shifted eight-speed automatic transmission that routes that torque to all four wheels. Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system not only maximizes traction but also can direct more torque to the rear wheels when needed. Our first drive revealed that the car is stable at autobahn speeds and a hoot to hustle around corners, with well-controlled body motions and predictable handling. The adaptive dampers provide a smooth ride in all but the sportiest setting, Dynamic. We also tested the RS5 Sportback at the track, where it hit 60 mph in 3.3 seconds and closed the gap between 50 and 70 mph in just 2.9 seconds. The audacious Audi ripped down the quarter-mile in just 11.8 seconds at 115 mph. These results show that the RS5 can hang with the more powerful 505-hp Alfa Romeo Giulia QF. They also reveal the benefit of all-wheel-drive traction, which helped Audi’s takeoffs compared with those of the rear-drive Alfa.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Inside, the RS5 Sportback shows off the company’s typically sophisticated design and exemplary build quality. The driver faces a handsome flat-bottom steering wheel, behind which sits a large 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. A pair of stubby paddle shifters are mounted on the wheel, should you have the sudden desire to drop a gear and hear the engine roar. The RS5’s cabin is also highlighted by intricately stitched seats that feature heated and cooled surfaces, as well as massaging functions for front-seat passengers. The car’s lengthy roster of standard equipment includes ambient interior lighting, a panoramic sunroof, and three-zone climate control. Those who want even fancier amenities can opt for a head-up display and Nappa leather upholstery. Of course, the Sportback’s longer dimensions and four doors make it a more practical alternative to the RS5 coupe. While the Sportback still isn’t ideal for transporting five people, its rear seat is roomy enough for two, even if its sloping roof intrudes on headroom back there. And the hatch provides more cargo space than the coupe.