Audi RS5 2018 Preview

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What it is: Audi’s monster version of the new A5 coupe. It’s powered by a furious twin-turbocharged V-6, fitted with a rear-biased all-wheeldrive system, and comes wearing a wide body that evokes, for some of us, the original Sport Quattro rally cars. For the first time, there will be a four-door RS5 Sportback; the RS5 cabriolet is gone. Europe gets an RS4 Avant with the same powertrain, but due to the U.S. market’s aversion to wagons, don’t expect it to appear on these shores.

Why it matters: The Audi brand has been suffering from two things: safe, evolutionary styling and the diesel scandal that engulfed the entire Volkswagen Group. It needs nothing more than sexy new product, and the RS5 should prove that the brand hasn’t lost its touch.

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Platform: The RS5 is based on the modular, longitudinal engine MLB Evo platform, shared with the A4, Q5/Q7, the next-gen A6/A7/A8, and a number of VW Group models such as the Chinese-market VW Phideon sedan.

Powertrain: A 450-hp version of the twin-turbo 2.9-liter V-6 that also powers the Porsche Panamera 4S. Peak torque is rated at 443 pound-feet, and the output routes to all four wheels through a ZF-supplied eight-speed automatic.

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Competition: BMW M4, Cadillac ATS-V coupe, Lexus RC F, Mercedes-AMG C63.

What might go wrong: The RS5’s exterior design might fail to push Audi’s design language forward.

Estimated arrival and price: Late this year as a 2018 model with a starting price just over $70K; the Sportback will come a half-year later.

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