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Fast and steady, with a split personality to enhance your ...


Fast and steady, with a split personality to enhance your driving pleasure

Whether on the daily commute or powering along back roads at leisure, Audi’s RS5 is exemplary

Motoring editor, reporter and presenter

You can’t have a discussion about high-performance Audi models without referencing the one that started it all. Quattro, the Italian word for the number four, adorned the backside of its boxy coupé that made its debut at the Geneva motor show in 1980. It was a game-changer for the brand: while peers went the rear-wheel drive route, Audi wanted to give its customers four-wheel drive traction, the promise of confidence in every conceivable weather setting.

And then the manufacturer took it racing. Forget pursuits on smooth, predictable tarmac. Audi forged its reputation for competition in the most gruelling terrain of them all: rallying. In 1981 the Quattro made its World Rally Championship (WRC) debut in Monte Carlo. In autumn that year, one of the rounds was won for the first time ever by a female driver, Michèle Mouton, campaigning the Audi in San Remo. The Quattro was taken to the Pikes Peak Hillclimb, where, in 1987, Walter Röhrl became the first to nail the ascent in less than 11 minutes.

In 2021 Audi, more specifically the Audi Sport sub-brand, has high-performance contenders in virtually all segments, from the compact S3 and RS3 to the kingpin R8. And a whole bunch of mean sport-utility vehicles in between. But you could argue that the model most authentic to the ethos of the original Quattro is the RS5. Because it traces its lineage directly to the 1980 two-door. We need to put on our Audi anorak for this one...

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