Audi Sport ups the ante

The Times (South Africa) - - Sport - BRENWIN NAIDU @NBren­win

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.

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