An even faster and more focused Audi RS4 will make its debut at next March’s Geneva Motor Show. Caught here in prototype guise undergoing high-speed handling tests at the Nürburgring circuit in Germany, the second-generation four-wheel-drive saloon represents an important change in Audi’s performance-car portfolio by foregoing traditional turbocharged power for a highly-tuned naturally aspirated engine.
The about-turn is part of a broader plan instigated by chairman Martin Winterkorn that aims to focus greater attention on Audi’s engineering prowess and further boost the image of its fledgling Audi Sport operation in the face of stiff competition from BMW’s M and Mercedes-Benz’s AMG divisions.
Based around the German car maker’s existing five-valve-per-cylinder 4.2-litre V8, the new RS4’s engine gains a host of lightweight internal components as well as modifications to the inlet and exhaust systems to help extend its top end and increase power. An impressive 425bhp is rumoured – some 44bhp more than the first-generation turbocharged 2.7-litre V6 RS4 launched in 2000 and 61bhp up on the recently facelifted S4 (see gallery).