• The New RS4 exhibits handsome angular styling
  • Rear diffuser and matt-aluminium detailings keep the design sporty and smart
  • Xenon Plus headlights are standard on all RS4s with clasp-shaped daytime running LED lights
  • These 20-in alloys are part of the Sports Package.
  • Rear wheel arches are flared and resemble the original Quattro's
  • The RS4 is excellently equipped, but does have some expensive options
  • The cabin has a high-quality feel, plus a superb set of sculpted sports seats
  • Rear legroom is respectable for the class and the seats are more sculpted than other, less exciting A4s
  • The RS4 Avant has a boot capacity of 490 litres, or 1430 litres with the seats folded down.
  • Despite weighing 1880kg, the RS4 instills driver-confidence
  • Carbon-ceramic brakes resist fade astoundingly well
  • The RS4's 444bhp V8 engine is powerful enough to sort out any understeer
  • Audi's Driver Select system was fine on the track, but a softer setting offers the best compromise for road use
  • Revisions of weight distribution make the new RS4 pointier
  • The RS4 gets better the faster you go and it's one of our favourite fast estates

This isn’t the first time that Quattro GmbH’s performance specialists have developed a car based on Audi's MLP platform – the RS5 has the same mechanical base – but it is the first time we’ve seen a fast Audi estate with anything even approaching perfect weight distribution.

Our scales bore testament to that. Having permitted a shortening of 
the front overhang and a rearward repositioning of all of the longitudinal engines that power the current ‘B8’ A4, the MLP platform 
has redistributed about 90kg of the RS4’s overall heft from front axle to rear. The ‘B7’ saloon we weighed in 2006 had a nose-heavy, old-school-Audi 60 per cent front, 40 per cent rear weight distribution. This time around it’s 56/44.

Matt Prior

Road test editor
It is the first time we’ve seen a fast Audi estate with anything even approaching perfect weight distribution

That’s all the more impressive given that power comes from the same hand-built, 4.2-litre normally aspirated V8 that powers the RS5 – which dodges the modern trend for engine downsizing, and which we wholeheartedly approve of for doing so.

Relative to the previous RS4, power climbs by 30bhp to 444bhp at a heady 8250rpm, while peak torque remains unchanged at 317lb ft. No fat wad of forced-induction shove, then, but the trade-off should be crisp throttle response and real fireworks at the far end of the rev range.

That power finds its way to the road via a sophisticated quattro drivetrain. Suspension is via multi-links at both ends, with stiffened springs that deliver a 20mm lower ride height than a standard A4 Avant. The latest version of Audi's Dynamic Ride Control damping system is on the options list, with diagonally interlinked dampers cancelling excessive body roll. Our test car came with that system fitted, as well as Audi’s ‘active’ variable-ratio Dynamic Steering.

It also had optional carbon-ceramic front brake discs. As standard, you would otherwise get eight-piston calipers and new 365mm iron discs cut in a wave profile, making them lighter and better at heat dissipation. Assessment of the latter, therefore, must wait for another day.

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