First Look: 2010 Audi RS5

By our count, there are only eight days until Audi unwraps its RS5 sport coupe at the Geneva motor show, but that’s not stopping the automaker from spilling the beans on its latest model.

Although the RS5 uses the same direct-injection 4.2-liter V-8 found in the S5 Coupe, the folks at Quattro GmbH have transformed the engine into a verifiable screamer. The high-revving V-8 is good for 450 hp @ 8250 rpm, and throws down as much as 317 lb.-ft. of torque between 4000 and 6000 rpm. (For comparison, the S5’s engine is rated at 350 hp @ 7000 rpm and 325 lb.-ft. of torque at 3500 rpm).

Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system is, of course, standard equipment, but a revised center differential allows an increasingly variable torque split -- although it’s set to send 60 percent of the power to the rear wheels, as much as 85 percent can be channeled through the rear differential. Also standard is a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. For the time being, no manual variant is expected.

Externally, the RS5 differs little from its already attractive S5 sibling, but the cosmetic tweaks help the car look slightly more aggressive. A one-piece front grille and large lower air intakes are similar to those applied to the TT RS, while the rear valiance sports a larger diffuser and twin oval exhaust tips. Both the front fenders and side sills are slightly edgier than before, and a retractable spoiler is mounted on the decklid. 19-inch aluminum wheels are standard, but performance junkies may want to opt for the 20-inch rolling stock, as well as the available torque-vectoring rear differential and carbon ceramic brake rotors.

These changes reportedly help the RS5 rocket from 0-62 mph in a scant 4.6 seconds. Top speed is limited at 155, but Audi says it can boost that figure to 173.94 mph “upon request.”

Those requests will likely come from customers from outside North America, as the RS5 -- much like the TT RS -- isn’t launching in our market. Audi’s product planners are, however, still trying to iron out a case for bringing this car stateside.

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