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2023 Audi RS5 Competition First Drive Review: More Aggressive, But Still as Comfortable

2023 Audi RS5, black
Photo: Audi
2023 Audi RS5, black

Auto123 gets in a first test drive of the 2023 Audi RS5 Competition.

Malaga, Spain – Its new edition may have more aggressive styling, but the RS5 is still a more pleasant, comfortable and civilized everyday car than a BMW M3 or Mercedes-AMG C63. For 2023, Audi is adding a Competition version to the RS5 coupe and 4-door. This package gives the car more bite, no question. But does it compromise every-day comfort? Let’s see.

Same engine, more character
There are several little things you get with the Competition package that comes with the RS5 for an extra $11,400. An amount that adds up to $92,900 for the coupe model and $93,400 for the 4-door model. That brings us to $105,000 before taxes. That gives you an idea before you go any further. 

The Competition Package features a three-stage manually adjustable pilot air suspension that is not only efficient, but also provides better handling without compromising everyday driving comfort. The ride height is 10 mm lower. With manual adjustments, it can be lowered another 10 mm (for a total of 20) if, like us, you're taking a test drive on the track. 

Among other changes, the top speed is raised to 290 km/h, and the 8-speed transmission is reworked to offer faster shifts when the dynamic mode is activated. 

Your 0-100 km/h time is now a solid 3.8 seconds.

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2023 Audi RS5,  red, rear
Photo: Audi
2023 Audi RS5, red, rear

A little different visually
Aesthetically, the Audi RS5 Competition offers a new Sebring Black colour. There's also a new RS Sport Plus exhaust system developed especially for the Competition version, combined with 20-inch matte black wheels and Pirelli P Zero Corsa tires. 

At the front, Audi offers its Matrix LED headlights as standard. We also note the slightly inflated fenders and a more sculpted front end. 

But, true to form, Audi always makes its changes discreetly. You have to look twice to see differences such as the front blade, the side air intakes and the rear diffuser in matte carbon. 

Under the hood, the same 2.9L V6 engine with 444 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. We do miss the sound of the V8, but the engine's response is instantaneous. Audi has also promised not to rely, as Mercedes-Benz did, on 4-cylinders for its high-end sports models.

 

2023 Audi RS5,  black, rear
Photo: Audi
2023 Audi RS5, black, rear

On the track and on the road
A decade ago, we were at the same Ascari track in Spain for the previous-generation V8-powered RS5. A heavier, less agile car, but more sonorous. 

The return trip reminded us that 10 years is a long time in automotive years. This latest RS5 painlessly swallowed up the demanding circuit, all curves and unevenness that require some skill. The previous version was overweight and had a poorly adjusted suspension. 

The Competition Package brings forth an overall better-balanced car, with less weight on the front and an adjustable suspension that obeys your hands on the wheel. The best part is that on the roads near Malaga and Ronda, the car showed it has lost none of its comfort qualities and you can count on the full quattro drive all year around – great news for Canadian motorists.

A finish that lives up to the price
Audi's strength remains the finishing, which always lives up to the expectations of even the most demanding customers. The finish is very neat and plush. The sides of the seats are covered in glossy Piano Black. You can even cover them with an optional combination of Dynamica fabric and Pearl Nappa Leather, like our test model. The upholstery is made of 45-percent recycled polyester fiber. 

The seat shape is tight enough to support you on a track while keeping you comfortable on the road. 

Audi has added new insulation between the engine compartment and the cabin, which adds to the comfort of your ears inside the cabin. 

The flat-bottom steering wheel is complemented by a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a pair of steering-wheel-mounted paddles that proved to be very handy on the track. 

2023 Audi RS5, interior
Photo: Audi
2023 Audi RS5, interior

Among the long list of standard equipment, you get a panoramic sunroof and three-zone climate control. We liked the Sportback version, which offers 4 real doors, 4 real seats and a tailgate that opens to a large cargo area.

Technology updates
The old 8.3-inch screen is replaced by a larger 10.1-inch unit that protrudes over the dash. This feels like a last-minute addition, as evidenced by the poor fit. An all-new model would have been entitled to a better integration of this element. Beyond this forgivable fault, the system does now work with touch controls and responds quickly. 

All models are compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, integrated navigation and wireless charging. A Bang & Olufsen audio system is available as an option.

The last word
The RS5 delivers on all its promises by offering a high level of comfort for a sports car of its standing. It's discreet, but effective. It doesn't have the unbridled side of an Alfa-Romeo Giulia quadrifoglio or an AMG, but its overall balance makes it a wise choice.

2023 Audi RS5, front row seating, etc.
Photo: Audi
2023 Audi RS5, front row seating, etc.

We like

Dynamic acceleration
Flawless handling
Elegant and feature-rich interior 
Year-round driving pleasure

We like less

Limited space for the rear seats (coupe)
High price for the Competition model
Less pure in its driving than some competitors

2023 Audi RS5 sports car
Photo: Audi
2023 Audi RS5 sports car