Top trump in the ‘one car to do it all’ game?

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - RYAN LEWIS

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

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