Audi Road ‘n’ Track: from road to track

Invited by Audi Italia, I spent two amazing days in an event to discover the new cars of the brand Audi Sport: RS3, TT RS and RS5. Three cars that altogether have a power of 1250 hp unleashing that in the roads leading to the Passo del Muraglione, Passo della Futa and Passo della Raticosa by also passing through the Misano circuit.


The first of the two days begins in the Florence Santa Maria Novella station, where we are warmly welcomed in the hills around Florence, in a fantastic dwelling located south of Florence in the town of Bagno a Ripoli: Villa Medicea di Lilliano.


After the press conference and lunch, I rushed to pick the first car that will accompany me to the Passo del Muraglione. My choice falls on the most beautiful of the three cars, the most elegant and powerful. Obviously I’m talking about Audi RS5, pushed by a 2.9 V6 TFSI biturbo delivering 450 horsepower and 600Nm of torque. As soon as I see her in the middle of the olive grove in front of the villa I’m speechless, the 20-inch wheels, the ceramic braking system and the carbon inserts jump right into the eye.


When I get inside the car I feel right at home. I find everything I’ve enjoyed in the Audi I’ve tried before, but in sporty way. The perceived quality is at unmatched levels, the inserts are made of carbon and the seats have red stitches, you immediately realize that you are not on a normal Audi A5.


I start my journey and immediately I am forced to change my mind on an aspect that has not convinced me from the presentation of the. This car has not been fitted with double clutch gearbox but rather has adopted a more classic Tiptronic with 8 ratios. Changing gear in Comfort mode you will find it very smooth, in Dynamic they are not too brutal. On the road it makes you even more appreciate what I think is the true soul of this car, not that of pure sports, but that of the elegant GT.


Once we leave the villages we enter the road leading to the Muraglione where I decide to try the sport soul of this Audi RS5. Thanks to the Audi Drive Select I select the Dynamic driving mode and the car’s soul changes, it becomes stiffer, with a great sound (although it does not reach the levels of the previous V8 aspirated) and the engine rises quickly. The QUATTRO all wheel drive is intuitive and predictable. The understeer is non-existent, and the oversteer appears only when you go looking for it, but also in this case the car is “easy” as it can always keep control without any problems. In a moment we arrive at the Muraglione, we have a short break after leaving to Forlì.


This time, however, I am sitting in the seat of the passenger, thus succeeding in appreciating the great comfort that this car offers. Soundproofing is great and the Bang & Olufsen stereo system is really high level.


At the end of this day I find myself immersed in the suggestive vineyards of Predappio hills, more precisely at Borgo Condé.


I wake up at dawn, and after a good breakfast I go out to appreciate the scenery that comes before me. So I take the opportunity to steal another couple of shots, already thinking about what is the next destination: the Misano circuit.


The car I choose for this little trip is an Audi TT RS driven by the legendary 2.5-liter TFSI 5-cylinder that reaches the tremendous power of 400 horses, well over 60 more than the previous model. Compared to the RS5, it is more sporty, more focused on the drive. The driving mode selection key is positioned directly on the steering wheel and disappears from the center console leaving only room for the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit.


As soon as I start the engine, the engine starts to roar (and I smile), confirming all the feelings I have just experienced entering the car. In the streets that run through these wonderful vines, I can still appreciate the sporting nature of this car, but today I have only one thought in the head: the circuit of Misano.


At the end of the trip, after a short briefing, we wear helmets and we all go to their respective cars. The first I try is the same car that brought me to here, the TT RS. All the sensations that this car gave me on the road amplified on track confirming even more that the natural habitat of this car is the latter. It is glued to the asphalt and thanks to the S Tronic gear change are lightning. It almost seems to drive a go kart, also thanks to its low weight and low center of gravity. Among the three I can assure you that among the curbs is the most entertaining.


The second I tried was the RS3, the feeling of having everything under control is the same as the other two cars, but trusting too much in this case is not good. Having the same engine as the TT RS instinct suggests us to adopt a guide similar to its counterpart, but we must always keep in mind that in this case the weight is greater and the higher the center of gravity. Exaggerating is a moment, and the result is an annoying understeer.


Finally I can put my hands on the RS5, so exceptional road aboard I mistakenly led me to believe that on the track is just as exhilarating. Unfortunately, you feel the weight of almost 1700kg, and the Tiptronic gearbox certainly does not make easy driving between the curbs, so it prefers a very clean ride. With this, however, I do not mean that it is not a fun car to drive, but it is a car with a target different from track driving. One tip that I can give to future buyers of this Audi RS5 is to include among the accessories the ceramic braking system, the price is high (about € 7300), but it’s all worth it.


After the track session we take possession of the TT RS and after a stretch of highway we go to the location of the lunch. After lunch for the trip to Florence I had the pleasure of trying the last of the three cars to which the event was dedicated: the Audi RS3.


The roads we travel to return to Firenze Santa Maria Novella station are those that lead to Futa and Raticosa pass, both historic destinations for many motorcyclists. Driving this road car has confirmed the feelings it has given me on track. Between the three is the least intuitive and always leads to stray. Audi’s smallest RS car has a sound that is not as engaging as that of the TT RS, but it is still a pretty aggressive noise.


Once you cross the mountain roads, the fun comes to an end and bottles us into the traffic jungle of Florence, but this does not prevent me from enjoying the second soul of this small compact. I therefore decide to move the drive select in comfort and the small RS3 completely changes behaviour, becomes sleek and comfortable, thus failing to make me more stressful than I need in traffic.


Arriving at Firenze Santa Maria Novella Station ends the test drive with the three cars. Audi with this event has wanted to prove that these machines are excellent travel companions capable of great performance and can rip more than a smile on the face of anyone inside.


Text: Federico Schipani

Photo: Federico Schipani (No Logo: Audi Italia)


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