THE VERY BEST USE FOR £20K

Four rea­sons we love the B7 RS4, the car that trans­formed Audi’s per­for­mance im­age

CAR (UK) - - Car Interactive - Words Matt Joy | Pho­tog­ra­phy Wil­son Hen­nessey

1. THAT EN­GINE  OH, THAT EN­GINE

The 4.2-litre V8 from the S4 was sweet and revvy but mod­estly pow­er­ful, and the pre­vi­ous RS4 went down the turbo route. By con­trast the B7 used an en­hanced ver­sion of the 4.2 that would also power the ear­li­est R8s, with a stack of changes trans­form­ing its per­son­al­ity. Switch­ing back to four valves per cylin­der in­stead of five meant higher revs – 8250rpm be­fore the lim­iter cut in, kick­ing out 414bhp in the process, just shy of the magic 100bhp-per-litre mark. Spec­tac­u­lar ex­haust note, too.

2. THE PER­FECT BLEND OF LOW‚KEY AND LAIRY

The stan­dard B7 A4 was clean, smart and un­adorned in that way Audi nailed long ago, but the RS4 took on a whole new per­son­al­ity, as if its DNA had been spliced with some­thing far more sin­is­ter. The arches are pulled over the wider track and its vents speak of hard­core hard­ware be­neath. It also rides on some of the pret­ti­est multi-spoke al­loy wheels ever cre­ated. Nev­er­the­less, sub­tle colours helped it blend in, as a gen­uine Q-car should.

3. RIGHT CAR, RIGHT TIME

With no M3 Tour­ing and AMG yet to get its act to­gether, the Avant RS4 was a mas­ter­stroke. Suf­fi­ciently com­pact to drive daily, big enough to deal with the fam­ily and re­fined enough not to up­set them, it was still ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing an elec­tri­fy­ing drive when the op­por­tu­nity arose.

4. B‚ROAD WEAPON PAR EX­CEL­LENCE

Driv­ing the RS4 at speed on a typ­i­cal UK road is an ex­er­cise in find­ing your own lim­its, not the car’s. All those light­weight com­po­nents up front help quell un­der­steer and the meaty, lin­ear steer­ing is a rev­e­la­tion. Qu­at­tro drive means 8000rpm over and over again, ev­ery chance you get re­warded with sear­ing pace and a war­bling roar from the ex­haust. Over­steer might be ef­fec­tively off the menu, but what you get in­stead is rock-solid con­fi­dence to wring out the en­gine and the buzz of un­shake­able grip, heroic trac­tion and a del­i­cacy pre­vi­ously unseen in an RS. To drive one once is to want one for­ever more.

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