Wants and needs rarely tally in the world of the motorcar. While there are many examples of how four wheels, the right engine and a splash of sleek bodywork can enable the former to effectively trump the latter, the case for splicing the two together is ever more convincing. We want cars that look good, go fast and make some sort of logical sense. Audi's 'RS' models are a perfect example of how to achieve this.
Ever since the first RS, the RS2, took a bunch of Porsche mechanicals and shoehorned them beneath the lightly enhanced curves of the 80 Avant way back in 1994, the Ingolstadt-based manufacturer has managed to up the ante with every subsequent model. Despite the introduction of its own bona-fide, stand-alone supercar, the R8, the 'RS' designation still exists as a 'halo product' at the top of each respective model line.
The RS5 takes the svelte lines of the A5 Coupé - one of the company's most successful designs of recent years - and injects it with somewhat more aggressive styling, all underpinned by a 450bhp V8 and paired with intelligent, adapatable quattro four-wheel drive. Performance is more than ample, enough to put this practical four-seater in the upper echelon of contemporary sports cars. And yet these arguably unnecessary qualities - the perverse 'wants' of high performance - are successfully blended with the everyday 'needs' of a four-seater car. For despite the shrieking V8, the crisp handling and braking and the exhilarating acceleration, the RS5 is truly practical, a functional machine in a way that many rivals simply can't manage.
We're often accused of being overly partial to Audi's approach to car making. But like every volume manufacturer these days, the company is spread ever thinner from city cars to hulking SUVs, through every permutation in between. As a result, not everything that bears the four silver rings is a masterpiece. But in the RS5 - and to a large extent the A5 Coupé that it's based on - Audi has hit a sweet spot, a pure driver's car that can be used every day with discretion and zero compromise.