Audi Sport ups the ante
Audi is committed to making a bigger noise about its performance offerings. About time, really. Last year the manufacturer announced its Audi Sport sub-brand, with a mandate to emphasise the distinction between it and its bread-and-butter models.
Part of this entails sections of existing dealerships dedicated solely to the exciting stuff with the red rhombus emblem.
Next year will see the return of Audi’s driver training academy for customers. And a bigger push will be made to punt the lifestyle aspect of Audi Sport ownership — think branded clothing and catalogues of sporting accoutrements that can be retrofitted to your vehicle.
Basically, it wants to achieve the type of mainstream fandom enjoyed by rivals Mercedes-AMG and BMW Motorsport.
We should remind ourselves that Audi has a truly impressive and storied heritage when it comes to performance. Its legendary rally and Le Mans pursuits are conversation fodder for genuine motorsport anoraks.
But Audi is not targeting anoraks. It wants to seize the affections of a younger set, with Instagram accounts as fat as their bank balances.
On Monday Audi Sport launched two additions to its local range: the RS 5 and TT RS, both in coupé format. The RS 5 has its sights set on the Mercedes-AMG C63 coupé and BMW M4.
The M4 was the victor in our comparison test last October, setting the faster lap time at Zwartkops in Tshwane. A rematch will have to be staged on South African soil — although the reports from abroad on this triple threat still lean towards the Bavarian fighter. Still, we will exercise objectivity and fairness.
The RS 5 has plenty going for it, particularly thanks to its potent 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine. Its predecessor packed a normally aspirated V8, which sounded the business but did little to propel the car with true urgency. While the power output remains the same at 331kW, torque has been bumped up by 170Nm to a sizable 600Nm. You will not find a dual-clutch S tronic transmission here for that reason. A regular eight-speed automatic is purported to be more robust for the application.