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Too Tempting All-Wheel-Drive Speedster

The Audi RS5 Quattro coupe is an all-wheel-drive car powered by a 4.2-liter V-8 gasoline engine. Illustrates WHEELS-AUDI (category l), by Warren Brown, special to The Washington Post. Moved Thursday, July 17, 2014. (MUST CREDIT: Audi)

The Audi RS5 Quattro coupe is an all-wheel-drive car powered by a 4.2-liter V-8 gasoline engine. Illustrates WHEELS-AUDI (category l), by Warren Brown, special to The Washington Post. Moved Thursday, July 17, 2014. (MUST CREDIT: Audi)

Driving the Audi RS5 Quattro coupe is like being in a forbidden relationship. You know you shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing. But it feels so very good doing it, you don’t want to stop. You know you’re going to pay for what you’ve done.

I paid — $110 in premium gasoline for nearly 300 miles of unadulterated fun. I am lucky I didn’t pay significantly more. I did most of my driving on the highways and byways of the great state of Virginia over the Fourth of July weekend. I was careful. But luck in any passionate activity is often more important than care.

I was lucky. I finished the drive with no traffic tickets or warnings and, more important, no crashes or other mishaps.

There are stretches of Interstate 66, moving west toward Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, with top legal speeds of 70 mph. Exceeding that is easily achieved in an all-wheel-drive car powered by a 4.2-liter V-8 gasoline engine (450 horsepower, 317 pound-feet of torque).

I wasn’t trying to show off. Instead, I was trying to stay out of the way of apparently crazy drivers moving substantially faster and, happily in terms of reduced official attention to me, into the waiting arms of the law.

There are some side roads in central Virginia, mostly traffic-free pavement moving toward West Virginia, that are as tempting to drivers of high-performance automobiles as that forbidden apple must have been to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. I chose several of those roads, my passion for them tempered by biblical recollections of what happened to Adam and Eve after they ate that apple.

But the temptation was too much to resist. Blame it on brilliant automotive technology coupled with the rare on-road opportunity to try it out.

Some of those side roads have marvelous twists and turns, perfect for trying out the RS5 coupe’s standard offering of a sport rear differential that keeps the outside rear wheel turning while the inside rear wheel is braked, allowing the car to make sharp turns with little or no drama. This was fun. I ran that exercise multiple times just to make sure the car was doing what Audi’s engineers said it would do. At least, that is what I told myself.

Truth is, I was having a devilishly good time, a motorized revelry that sometimes bordered on the silly and, had it been in a less rural setting, the annoying. I am referring to the RS5 coupe’s deep baritone exhaust note escaping from its dual exhaust outlets each time I mashed the accelerator in an attempt to move from 0 to 60 mph in under 5 seconds. My best time was 0 to 60 in 4.4.

That dubious achievement left me feeling proud and ashamed. I normally don’t care about such things. Indeed, I often frown on them, as I do on those television commercials featuring cars speeding along usually empty roads with demonic fervor.

I now know what it feels like to be a publicly religious “family values” politician caught camped in the diggings of a paramour. “I knew that woman. It was a moment of inexcusable weakness. I apologize to my wife, my children, my staff and my constituents. I will seek rehabilitation ...”

Short of that. I will at least enter a season of abstinence devoted to motoring in very fuel-efficient (of which the RS5 coupe definitely is not one), reasonably affordable (only for the top 1 percent of the nation’s income earners in the case of the RS5), and practical (the RS5, a genuine daily driver, actually deserves some credit here) automobiles.

My visit to the dark side is now ended. I now know how difficult, if not impossible, it will be to save the rest of the fallen. That place is fun.