Audi doesn't always do right by the American car enthusiast. Yes, we have the incredible R8 supercar and briefly enjoyed the gonzo RS4 (oh, that exhaust note), but there are other high-performance machines in the four-ringed stable which we've been denied. Like the RS6 sport sedan. And the much-teased TT RS is taking its sweet time coming here. However, one prayer has been answered for Audi faithful: the hottest version of Audi's prettiest coupe will go on sale Stateside. The Audi RS5 is coming in 2012.
A quick note on Audi's usual naming convention. When there's an A, as in A4, that's the standard model. Replace that A with an S and we're looking at something much sportier. Add an R in front of that and it's the most extreme Audi gets, on a par with BMW's M and Mercedes-Benz's AMG cars.
Back to the RS5. It will be propelled by a 4.2-liter V8 that makes a thrilling 450 horsepower. It's virtually the same engine as the one in the "entry-level" R8, but with 30 more horses. Audi has no plans to change anything mechanically, so we can expect a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that can effect gear changes in mere milliseconds. This hardware hasn't been seen on any American-spec Audi to date. Audi's familiar Quattro all-wheel drive system will also be standard issue. Although there are soft-top convertible versions of the A5 and S5, the RS5 will be a coupe only.
There has been no official announcement regarding price – it's too soon for that – but we can probably guess the ballpark. BMW's M3 (available as a coupe, convertible or sedan) starts in the mid-$50,000 range and gives away less than 40 hp to the RS5, which will likely cost several thousand dollars more. But an M3 doesn't offer all-wheel drive, and its six-speed double-clutch transmission costs extra. Plus, an M3 coupe with an option or two easily breaks the $60,000 mark. Bear in mind that Audi tends to keeps the volume of its RS cars low, so there will also be that added element of exclusivity.
However, the best part about the RS5 is unrelated to its price, performance numbers or even its engine. It's that, on this occasion, Audi isn't holding back on us.