Audi RS 5 Cabriolet

The 2013 Audi RS 5 Coupe and Cabriolet may strike many fans like a Back to the Future ride: a return to the S5’s V-8 roots, but with a formidable leap forward in giddyup.

When the first Audi S5 hit the U.S. market in late 2007, it was a rumbling power machine with a deep-throated V-8. The car’s sweeping lines and low-slung profile won it some of automotive’s highest accolades, and it quickly earned its spurs as one of the best sports cars in the world. Even while the supercharged V-6s that replaced the original S5 V-8 over the years had only slightly less horsepower (330), the changes left some car buffs feeling as though something had been lost. Over the ensuing five years, rumors were surfacing that a superperformance RS (racing sports) iteration would be introduced in the United States. And RS models even showed up in other countries—but not in Audi showrooms here.

The wait is over. The new RS 5 not only comes with a muscular 4.2 liter V-8, but it also churns out 450 horsepower, nearly 100 horsepower more than the original engine in the first S5—producing what many car buffs had orignally hoped for. And that familiar deep growl is back too. While the only gearing option is the seven-speed S-tronic automatic transmission, that will carry the car from 0 to 60 in about 4.5 seconds. The seven speeds also help boost the fuel economy from the original V-8 up to a 16 miles a gallon in the city, and 23 mpg on the highway.

The RS 5 retains the slick lines of the original design, with a new grill face, and the signature round, chrome double tailpipes. The car’s 19-inch standard tires come with a 10-spoke rim (20-inch tires with a five-spoke rim are also available). A rear spoiler activates automatically at 75 miles an hour. The car also comes standard—the list price is $68,900 for the coupe and $77,900 for the convertible—with a lot of the luxury bells and whistles of larger sedans. Side assist alarms, dynamic steering and adaptive cruise control all contribute to the sensation that this car isn’t just a sports car but a comfortable luxury sports car.