Rabidly quick estate cars seem to stoke the imagination of us enthusiasts in a manner few other vehicle types can. There’s something wonderfully improbable about genuine usability combined with performance that, out in the real world, would often do for more purpose-built machinery. Not many of us actually buy quick estate cars, of course, and in that sense, they’re a bit like supercars.
This is truer of the RS4 Avant than most. In fact, in the realm of online publishing, it’s not unusual for Audi’s mid-sized hammer-wagon to garner a similar level of attention to that you’d expect of, say, a new McLaren.
Audi’s formula has history on its side too. It began with the RS2 of 1994 – developed with Porsche, fantastically quick and, for its time, fabulous to drive – and led to the curvaceous form of the V6-engined B5-generation RS4 of the millennium. Quattro GmbH – now known as Audi Sport – then gave us the B7 version, which graduated to naturally aspirated V8 power and boasted a chassis of such finesse that you’d think it would be wasted on an estate car – except it wasn’t.
The most recent RS4 was also the most conservative in its styling and a little way from regurgitating the dynamic prowess of its forebear but was still a well-conceived machine. All of which nicely sets the scene for this new one.
Aggressive, isn’t it? By the numbers, the B9-generation RS4 is also a mighty thing. Fuel economy is improved by a fifth and CO2 emissions have fallen by a quarter. Shaving 80kg from the kerb weight (the first time a new RS4 has trimmed down) has also helped to take more than half a second from the 0-60mph time, and the twin-turbo V6 delivers almost half as much torque again as the engine it replaces.
With 275-section tyres at each corner, this new car puts down a vast amount of rubber and yet rolling refinement will need to have improved. Being an RS4, its aesthetics are also tasked with generating a buzz befitting of a £60,000 car and yet mustn’t attract the wrong kind of attention. So can it possibly fulfil all of these tasks and still reward the person behind the wheel when the moment arises?