Top trump in the ‘one car to do it all’ game?
The everyman’s – and everyoccasion – performance car?
WANT to buy a fast Audi? No problem. There’s a broader range of Audi Sport models to choose from than ever before. Where the performance offshoot once produced only a single RS model at a time, more factories are now churning out more RS cars for more people. But it’s the iconic RS4 that started it all.
Back in 1994 it was launched as a B4-based superwagon called the RS2, developed with a little help from Porsche. Today’s B9 RS4 draws a direct line down the family tree from that car, and there’s another Porsche parallel with the 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 under its bonnet also being found in Panameras and Cayennes.
Yes, the RS4 has come full circle. Gone is the rev-happy freebreathing 4.2-litre V8 of the last two iterations, and in is a boosted bent-six like the RS4 of 2000. We already miss that lustrous 8250rpm redline but, emotional responses aside, the change is more favourable than not.
Peak power remains at 331kw, but arrives sooner, as does its 600Nm. That’s 170Nm more than before, and the full dose is available from a scant 1900rpm through to 5000rpm. In regular driving and on track, the V6’s numbers are demonstrably more effective, not to mention more efficient by 1.8L/100km.
Nought to 100km/h takes 4.1sec, making this RS4 seriously lively. Its all-paw traction is hugely confidence inspiring, and sustains almost reckless corner speed. Pruned mass forward of the front axle means it’s now less prone to understeer, too; the V6 is fully 31kg lighter than the old lump.
Dial the systems back to Comfort and it’s here the RS4 makes another statement. The ride is impressively composed and compliant, especially given its standard 20-inch wheels. Audi seems to have decided the RS4 should be easy to live with, and that creates a neat point of difference to its only real rival, the firmly suspended Mercedes-amg C63 S Estate. A somewhat muted exhaust note is one of the only downsides to its maturity.
Steering feedback is missing that last layer of crispness some sports car buyers look for, but there’s nothing lacking about its propensity to change direction.
The design-driven interior is immaculately finished and laden with all the fruit that’s expected for the $152,900 asking price. The excellent sports seats feature dynamic bolsters, active safety equipment has been prioritised, and B&O audio is standard.
Every car enthusiast has played the ultimate single-car garage game, and a fast wagon is always hard to beat. It’s a formula Audi has been tweaking for years, and this RS4 might just be its best allrounder yet.
No more high-rpm V8 theatre; V6 soundtrack a bit muted Almost unrivalled flexibility; dynamic gains; ride/handling balance Model Audi RS4 Avant Engine 2894cc V6, dohc, 24v, twin-turbo Max power 331kw @ 5700-6700rpm Max torque 600Nm @ 1900-5000rpm Transmission 8-speed automatic Weight 1715kg 0-100km/h 4.1sec (claimed) Economy 8.9L/100km Price $152,900 On sale Now