The key to the RS is its turbocharged 2.5-litre, 20-valve in-line five, an engine configuration deliberately intended to evoke memories, mostly aural, of one of Audi's greatest triumphs on road and track in the original Quattro.
This new engine is substantially more potent, of course, putting out 335bhp and a thumping 332lb ft of torque instead of the 197bhp and 210lb ft of the earlier engine. It is a good-looking motor, too, its cam covers finished in crackle red paint and exposed for all to see rather than being buried beneath a plastic cover.
The key here is to know that the blown five begins kicking out its hefty 332lb ft of peak torque from as low as 1600rpm and maintains this effort all the way to 5300rpm. A close-stacked spread of six gears, all-wheel-drive traction and a smooth-revving engine all combine to produce locomotive-like thrust in virtually every gear well into three-figure speeds.
For an idea of how swift this car can be, consider that it can cover the 30-70mph sprint through the gears in just 4.4sec, and make the same leap using fourth gear alone in 6.4sec. And the all-out sprint to 60mph requires just 4.7sec, a number that convincingly eclipses the Porsche Cayman S’s 5.1sec, for instance. Unusually, there is no performance penalty for specifying a drop-top model over the coupé.