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 ‘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.
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.