This isn’t the first time that Quattro GmbH’s performance specialists have developed a car based on Audi's MLP platformthe 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.

Matt Prior

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.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Audi range

Driven this week

  • 2017 Range Rover Velar
    First Drive
    23 July 2017
    The Range Rover Velar is the most road-biased car Land Rover has made. So does it still feel like a proper part of the family?
  • Seat Ibiza
    Car review
    21 July 2017
    A model upon which Seat has staked its future, the new Ibiza must now deliver
  • Honda Clarity FCV
    Car review
    21 July 2017
    Honda’s fuel cell flagship reaches its second generation, but is the world ready?
  • Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi 110 N-Connecta 2017 review
    First Drive
    20 July 2017
    A UK drive in Nissan’s crucial crossover shows an update has not cost it any of that which makes it sell so well
  • Seat Ibiza 1.0 MPI
    First Drive
    20 July 2017
    The Seat Ibiza has wowed in other iterations, but how will the entry-level 1.0-litre MPI version stack up in the UK? We've been to north Wales to find out