Audi's RS5 Sportback has a measure of civility and utility to go with its maniacal performance
Audi's RS5 Sportback has a measured savagery The Audi RS5 Sportback is a lovely drive, with precise and effortless steering and a creamy, quick and well-spaced gearbox. PHOTOS: CHONG JUN LIANG

Everyone knows you cannot have your cake and eat it. Well, in Ingolstadt, you can, apparently, with the new RS5 Sportback.

The car is the biggest RS-badged car to have arrived here and it does a decent job of mixing comfort and practicality with performance and impracticality.

It has the same powertrain as the thunderous RS5 Coupe reviewed here last year - a 2.9-litre biturbo V6 whipping up 450hp and 600Nm of delicious torque from 1,900rpm. The insane output is made sensible by an eight-speed autobox before it goes to the car's four wheels.

The Sportback, however, is a bigger vehicle - longer, wider and taller, but sitting just as low as the two-door. Its wheelbase is also appreciably longer, giving the five-door more stretching room in the rear.

Boot space, however, remains the same as the Coupe's - at 465 litres. But access is clearly better with the Sportback's barn-size tailgate, which is motorised for ease of operation.

The front seats have a massage function, which, for such a car, is a little unusual to say the least.

The growth in size translates to a slight weight penalty. The RS5 Sportback is 65kg heavier than the Coupe reviewed in February last year, but it inexplicably matches its blistering century sprint of 3.9 seconds.

That is seriously quick. In fact, that is quicker than a base Porsche 911.

But on a day-to-day basis, the RS5 Sportback does not seem as ballistic as its Coupe sibling. Acceleration at any moment and any speed is immediate and lag-free - accompanied by a glorious soundtrack emanating from bazooka-size tailpipes - but it does not leave you breathless.

Its additional weight notwithstanding, the fuel consumption is marginally higher at 8.9 litres/ 100km (versus the Coupe's 8.8 litres/ 100km). This is equally inexplicable.

The test-car rides on 20-inch wheels shod rubbers so thin they are barely there. The wheels are attached to a sports suspension with fixed damping. Ride is thus rather firm. Yet, there is some semblance of comfort.

Over uneven surfaces, the set-up is thumpy enough to give rise to a bit of cabin rattle, but not enough to give you a headache. On the whole, it is far more liveable than a 3-series with M Sport suspension.

As with most RS cars, the RS5 Sportback is lovely to drive. Its precise and effortless steering makes this so, as does its creamy, quick and well-spaced gearbox. They imbue the muscle-bound beast with a generous helping of civility, taking the edge off its hardcore powertrain.

While the car is not as agile as the Coupe, it does not come across as unwieldy. This has, in part, to do with its excellent visibility and, in part, with its neutral handling.

Also characteristic of RS cars, the RS5 Sportback feels special. Accompanying its enormous power reserve is the car's splendid soundtrack. While not as soul-stirring as the Mercedes-AMG GT53's music, it is still something to look forward to whenever you squeeze the throttle - especially in Sport.

Although it is not the RS5's most likely rival because it is one size bigger and priced substantially higher, the Merc - which is as current - entices all the same with its sumptuousness as a comfy grand tourer.

The Audi is not as luxurious, but has performance on its side. Its smaller footprint may not endow it with a distinct superiority in the handling department, but its 3.9-second century sprint clearly outshines the Merc's 4.5.

In fact, no other car in this sprint league matches the RS5 Sportback's level of practicality and price point in Singapore - well, except maybe the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio.

But the Alfa has an even harder ride than the Audi, with a raw and highly strung demeanour.