Su­per wagon

Townsville Bulletin - - Cars Guide -

JUST prior to Christ­mas, Audi re­leased an­other per­for­mance leader in­tended to help lead the brand’s im­age through this year. The RS4 sedan that tops A4 range has now been joined by the RS4 Avant (which is Audi for sta­tion wagon). Wag­ons used to be a pop­u­lar type of car in Aus­tralia, go­ing back a few decades. Nearly ev­ery sec­ond drive­way in those days sported a large wagon that was part five or six-seater pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle, part ute, part beach camp­ing body and even part bus in the less safety con­scious days when it was still le­gal to throw a hand­ful of un­seat­belted kids into the lug­gage area. But as the SUV rose to dom­i­nance, the sta­tion wagon was tagged as a bit daggy, and its pop­u­lar­ity sunk. That may all be chang­ing. The past cou­ple of years of petrol price pres­sure has seen small and medium wag­ons ap­pear in in­creas­ing num­bers, and hot wag­ons ar­riv­ing from Europe, where the body shape is hugely pop­u­lar. And as far as hot goes, the RS4 Avant is a scorcher. This is a sta­tion wagon with a lap timer and a 0-100km/h fig­ure of 4.8 sec­onds. That is clearly into su­per­car ter­ri­tory. But un­like a Fer­rari, you can lug furniture home in the Audi. It has all the punch of the RS4 race-sports sedan but with the prac­ti­cal at­trac­tion of a ver­sa­tile body that can carry up to 1354 litres with the seats folded. Like the sedan, the RS4 car­ries a high-revving al­la­lu­minium di­rect-in­jected 4.2-litre V8 that de­vel­ops 309kW of power at 7800rpm and 430Nm of torque at 5500rpm (with 90 per cent of that grunt be­ing avail­able

be­tween 2250 and 7600rpm). This is trans­ferred to the tar via a six-speed man­ual trans­mis­sion talk­ing to the latest ver­sion of Audi’s sig­na­ture qu­at­tro drive — in this case di­vid­ing the torque 40 front/60 rear, giv­ing all-wheel drive sta­bil­ity and very tasty rear-wheel skewed dy­nam­ics. Even in a rare bit of rain on greasy road, this beast never re­laxed its claws. Alu­minium also used in the front wings, bon­net and care­fully po­si­tioned chas­sis com­po­nents mean the pow­erto-weight ra­tio has been op­ti­mised (to a low 3.93kg/bhp) and the weight dis­trib­uted where it will en­hance han­dling. The sus­pen­sion has been re­vised to bet­ter match the wagon body, and road fun is also helped along with dy­namic ride con­trol, two-sage elec­tronic sta­bil­ity pro­gram, 19-inch wheels and huge per­fo­rated and ven­ti­lated brake discs (365mm front, 324mm rear) among a slew of other tech­nol­ogy. From the out­side, this looks like a stylish fam­ily wagon. On the inside, you’ll know bet­ter. Settle into the racy leather seats, press the but­ton for Sport mode and feel the bol­sters ex­pand to grab you in a firm hug. Take a grip on the flat-bot­tomed steer­ing wheel, tap the metal ped­als to waken the roar of the en­gine and hit the road for one of the best drives around. This is truly a car that can put a smile on the face of a keen driver. And if you just want to too­tle around the garage sales and load up the cargo area with loot, you’ll be cos­set­ted in an in­te­rior kit­ted out with Audi’s sig­na­ture re­strained style and qual­ity. Equip­ment in­cludes Bose au­dio, park­ing alerts, cruise con­trol, high-in­ten­sity xenon head­lights and au­to­matic air­con­di­tion­ing. There are very few cars around that don’t lack or an­noy in some area, but this could well be one of them. This car leaves you with the im­pres­sion that it needs noth­ing else in the way of grunt or gear. How­ever those who al­ways want an ex­tra some­thing — or per­haps want to go rac­ing — you can op­tion ce­ramic brakes for an ex­tra $13,200. If you’re look­ing for a late Christ­mas present, the RS4 Avant can be gift-wrapped for $168,100. And for those al­ready mak­ing Santa’s next list, a Cabri­o­let RS4 will ar­rive early next year for $187,000.

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