2023 Audi RS5 Competition Review – Sets your emotions alight
This is certainly no ordinary Audi RS5 because it’s Audi’s attempt to turn one of its great cars into a very special one. It’s the 2023 Audi RS 5 Competition, which looks like an RS5 but is faster, lighter, more expensive, and is jumping into the ring to take on the likes of the BMW M3/M4, and the muscular C63 AMG. Today we’ll test it and see if they’ve done enough.
Audi has admitted that its customers have complained that the regular RS5 (available in Coupe and four-door Sportback) just isn’t quite doing it for them so the solution was to make it a bit more hardcore and imperfect.
My tester is the two-door model, which is a bit lighter than the 4-door model and it’s the one I prefer. Now for those of you who like to show off that you just bought an RS5 Competition well you can’t because there’s no badging to indicate your RS5 is in fact an RS5 Competition. The only clues are Carbon-fiber mirror caps, black exhaust tips, and a lot less money in your bank account.
So, what is the Competition?
First off you get Pirelli P Zero Corsas 275/30 on some very nice looking 20-inch wheels which are 4.4 pounds lighter apiece. The ABS has been reprogrammed, and in the US carbon-ceramic brakes are standard.
Audi has removed more than 17 pounds of sound deadening mostly from the firewall, between the engine and the driver. The suspension has been tweaked too since the 2023 Audi RS5 Competition now sits nearly 0.4 inch lower than the standard car, and you can lower it manually by another 0.4 inch with a tool kit handily placed in the trunk.
The standard car’s electronic dampers have been replaced by fully adjustable coil-overs, the adaptive anti-roll bars are new, and the rear bar has been stiffened. One of the best changes in my opinion is the fixed 13:1 steering ratio, instead of the dynamic ratio offered in the standard RS5. The rear differential has also been modified.
At the back the exhaust has been worked on for a more sonorous sound, it isn’t great but there is one feature accessory mode, switch it to Dynamic mode, and the exhaust will spit out “an overshoot in revolutions.”. It’s entertaining but a Cadillac CT5 Blackwing does it better.
Under The Hood
Sadly Audi hasn’t made any changes under the hood, the 2.9-liter twin turbo six still has 444 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque, however, due to the weight savings it is now quicker by 0.1 second quicker to 60 mph, so, expect times under 3.5 seconds. The transmission has been remapped for quicker shifts in Dynamic Mode for quicker shifts, Comfort mode remains the same, although it still shifts very quickly. The RS 5’s top speed is now 180mph.
The first thing you notice once getting up to speed on one of my favorite back roads is how playful the RS5 is now. The eight-speed automatic will now hold shifts at the redline in manual mode, even in auto mode the programming is near perfect. Audi has also provided very decisive upshifts, by letting the transmission give you a shove in the back each time, a little old school but so good.
Understeer has always been an Audi trait, simply given the fact that the engine sits forward of the front wheels, and well physics is physics. This time though with a more aggressively programmed rear diff, which you can configure in the MMI via RS2 mode, I think they have finally exorcized those demons.
Dive into a corner and the transmission holds resolutely onto the correct gear for exit, and even mid-way through the corner you can pile on more power, the nose tucks in and this thing is on rails. It does so without resorting to ultra-firm suspension so visits to the chiropractor are mitigated completely.
You soon realize that the RS 5 Competition doesn’t actually need more power, and that’s down to the immense power of the carbon ceramic brakes which haul the car down to a stop while displacing your internal organs. Add to that the suspension mods and tweaks to the transmission and you realize that Audi has finally created the RS 5 that should have been from the get-go.
The other sublime change has got to be the fixed-ratio steering which makes navigating through turns much more confidence-inspiring, and I must give a mention to the unbelievably grippy Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires which help with directional stability. My last test of the RS5 a few years back was somewhat disappointing due to it having Bridgestone Summer tires which were soft in the sidewalls, this Competition has finally made up for that.
Settle into the Dinamica suede seats and let the side bolsters hug you and you realize that the car oozes that typical Audi quality you would expect and it’s still way ahead of the competition. Red accents provide a pop of color on the seatbelts and floor mats and you get contrasting red stitching highlights on the steering wheel, shift lever, and center console.
Audi’s MMI is still very good with its haptic feedback and at least on this model you still get physical HVAC controls. Ahead of the driver is Audi’s “Virtual Cockpit’ and when you select the various different drive modes, especially RS1 and RS2 the display changes and flashes and turns a multitude of colors.
Cargo space in the coupe is small (11 cubic feet) so if you need more practicality and space opt for the Sportback which has a hatchback. Forget about rear-seat passengers in the coupe there are only 2 seats, headroom is at a premium but you do get a couple of cupholders.
The base price is $77,900 but the Competition package will set you back $16,100, add the Driver Assistance Package for $3,000, and the Nav package for $1,500 means the total price with destination fee is a whopping $100,565.
There’s something very special about the 2023 Audi RS5 Competition, it’s definitely a huge improvement over the standard car but is it worth $16K? I think so. The issue is it’s up against The BMW M3/M4 Competition which is a quicker, more dynamically superior machine, but the Audi is way more fun and at the same time the suspension isn’t ridiculously firm. it’s also better looking and I even like the color.
2023 Audi RS 5 Competition Numbers
BASE PRICE: $77,900
PRICE AS TESTED: $100,565
VEHICLE LAYOUT: Front-engine,all-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe
ENGINE: 2.9 liter, twin-turbocharged and inter-cooled DOHC 24-valve V-6
POWER: 444 hp @ 6,700 rpm
TORQUE: 443 lb-ft @ 1,900 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
CURB WEIGHT: 4,056 lbs
0-60 MPH: 3.5 seconds
TOP SPEED: 180 mph
EPA CITY/HWY/COMBINED: 21/18/26 mpg
OUR OBSERVED: 17.5 mpg
CARGO SPACE: 11.9 ft³
PROS: Incredible grip, very quick, sublime handling, beautiful interior.
CONS: The competition package doesn’t come cheap