The combination of luxury and practicality is Audi RS5's trump card

The incredibly capable RS5 has arrived in India and Audi wants it to dominate a segment that has few competitors.

Audi has launched the car with a price tag of ‘only' Rs. 76 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi). For a car that dishes out 444bhp, that's pretty decent bang for your buck and the keen pricing is part of Audi India's strategy to rule the rarefied, super luxury sports car niche.

Performance is what the RS5 is all about. The big V8 is a modified version of the R8's motor with more power. It maybe 165kg heavier than its mid-engined sibling but that doesn't stop it from rocketing to 100kph in 4.6 seconds on its way to a top speed (if you can find the road) of 250kph. The amazing thing about the RS5 is its versatility. It feels equally adept at crawling through the traffic and is planted while it barrels down the highway.

Acceleration is mind-boggling. Nail the throttle pedal on a deserted road and the gentle warble at low revs turns into a deep- throated V8 growl. Move the gear lever across to Manual mode and you can control the shifts via steering-mounted paddle-shifters. There's a delightful ‘phut' every time you upshift and the throttle blips automatically when you shift to a lower gear. Such aural accompaniments simply heighten the driving experience but what owners can truly enjoy is the wide range of drive train and chassis settings.

The RS5 comes with electro-magnetically controlled dampers that can be set to Comfort, Auto or Dynamic modes.

You can spend all day mixing and matching the various settings which allow you to tweak the engine response, steering feel, ride stiffness and the differential. What's reassuring is that in the softest setting, the RS5 rides quite well, even on its very low profile 265/35-ZR19 tyres. Okay, British roads may not be a good place to judge this but the odd manhole cover was met with a muted thud rather than a loud crash. In fact, it's the RS5's ability to cover long distances very quickly and without tiring the owner that makes it so suitable for India. But if you want a more engaging experience you can have it. Dial in the most sporting chassis settings and the RS5 becomes an amazing point-to-point machine. The quick steering, sharp throttle response, and massive grip from the Quattro system give the big and heavy RS5 astonishing agility.

Reaching the RS5's limit is something most owners will never do and apart from the odd Mumbai-Pune or Delhi-Jaipur intercity blast, the RS5 is a car that is likely to be city bound. That's where you will appreciate the RS5's everyday appeal. Cabin quality is top- notch and Audi owners will find a familiar environment with the MMI system and all the functionality of a regular Audi. The front seats are supremely comfortable and supportive but the same can't be said for the space in the back. This is certainly more a plus-2 than a proper four-seater.

The RS5 may not be very involving to drive but the Audi's softer character is what Indian owners would prefer as it puts less demands on the driver. Any performance car in India has to have a practical side to it. That's the RS5's trump card

Keywords: Audi RS5