The Audi RS4 Avant gets better the faster you drive, and as such makes an excellent RS model

Our Verdict

Audi RS4 Avant

Audi’s rapid estate returns. We know it’s fast, but can it engage us?

  • First Drive

    Audi RS4 Avant review

    The Audi RS4 Avant gets better the faster you drive, and as such makes an excellent RS model
  • First Drive

    Audi RS4 Cabriolet

    The RS4 Cabriolet does not have the structural rigidity of the saloon, but you can listen more easily to that V8.
12 June 2012

What is it?

The third generation Audi RS4, but this time available only in Avant estate form. Like the last it uses a 4.2-litre V8 motor, but with power raised to the same 444bhp seen in the RS5, up from the 414bhp of the last RS4.

Unlike its forebear, there is no manual transmission option, Audi maintaining its S-tronic 7-speed double clutch gearbox is better in every regard, not least its ability to help reduce fuel consumption by 27 per cent. Audi also claims the new RS is quicker than the last, citing a 0.2sec reduction in 0-62mph time to 4.7sec, though that’s likely to come as much from its seamless gearshifts and launch control strategy as its extra power: it may have an extra 30bhp, but so too must it carry another 85kg, meaning the new car’s power to weight ratio is actually only a fractional 5bhp per tonne better than the last.

Visually all the usual RS cues are there from the enlarged air inlets at the front past the bulging wheel arches and extended sills at the side to the ovoid exhausts at the rear.

What's it like?

If you were lucky enough to know the old RS4 at all, you’re going to wonder where all the vorsprung’s gone, at least at first. Drive it merely moderately fast and the RS4 is quite a remote car, especially if you make the mistake of paying extra for variable ratio dynamic steering, which appears to offer little benefit at speed and is horridly light and overly direct around town.

If you keep the engine operating in the mid-range where its one true rival, the Mercedes C63 AMG Estate is at its happiest, the V8 feels merely pleasantly fast. Moreover the ride is rather firm, even in the softest of its driver selectable settings. The motor is quiet, the gearshifts commendably slick in all three modes and the interior a paragon of ergonomic common sense. But where’s all the fun gone?

Actually the entertainment offered by the old RS4 is there, and with an added dimension, but you’ll need to look – and drive – harder to find it.

First you need to start hammering the V8. Although precisely the same size as the old unit, this is a new engine for the RS5 and RS4 and it needs to be revving at or past its 4000rpm torque peak before it comes alive. But thereafter it only gets better and if you can keep it bubbling between 5500-8500rpm, you’ll believe your keeping company with one of the true greats.

Likewise the chassis. The handling of most RS Audis, including the last RS4, has always deteriorated the harder you try: this one is the reverse. At normal or even mildly elevated effort levels, it doesn’t even hint at what’s to come. But if you turn off all the electronics and introduce with serious intent to a wet Austrian mountain road, instead of understeering everywhere, it turns in crisply, allows any trace of nose push to be neutralised with a lift of throttle and, if you’re so minded and have the space, is not at all averse to a little light drifting.

Should I buy one?

It a slightly strange car, this RS4. On the one hand I applaud Audi’s decision to change fundamentally the character of the car, on the other I have to point out it would be better still if its engine and chassis were more engaging at all effort levels and not just maximum attack.

Then again, others wanting a normal car for every day and a monster for recreational purposes will relish its split personality. And they’re probably right to: fact is this RS4 is the first not simply to look good and go hard but offer something beyond stodgy understeer to serious drivers. And that makes it not just a good car, but an excellent RS.    

Giles Newton

Audi RS4 Avant

Price: £54,925; 0-62mph: 4.7sec; Top Speed: 155mph or optional 174mph; Economy: 26.4mpg; CO2: 249g/km; Kerb weight: 1795kg; Engine layout: 8 cyls in a vee, 4163cc, normally aspirated, petrol; Installation: Longitudinal, front, four-wheel drive; Power bhp at rpm: 444nhp at 8250rpm; Torque lb ft at rpm: 317lb ft at 4000rpm; Gearbox: 7-sp double clutch

Join the debate

Comments
16

12 June 2012

do any of you guys read your copy before you submit it? Or, Jesus, do you actually think that the phrase - you’ll believe your keeping company with one of the true greats - is in English? Concentrate for xxxx's sake

13 June 2012

Of all the new or nearly new cars i have ever bought i have never bought an Auto, and i am not about to start. it really doesnt matter how good this car is, or what praise the reviewers give it, without a manual its of no interest to me.

Add to that the poor reputation the DSG has out of warrenty, why would i want one?

 

12 June 2012

 But if you turn off all the electronics and introduce with serious intent to a wet Austrian mountain road,


12 June 2012

So Audi maintains that the S-Tronic is better in every regard?

 

Except for the fact that I wouldn't buy this car because the last thing this car needs is a boring 'clever' auto.

 

There is a fake, lowest common denominator, quality to all these gearboxes that presumes we derive no pleasure from a well executed gear change.

 

They allow imbeciles to appear decent drivers.

 

If you want an Xbox, buy an Xbox.

 

 

13 June 2012

eseaton wrote:

If you want an Xbox, buy an Xbox.

Here-here, that man!

The art of operating 3 pedals, a steering wheel and gearlever simultaneously with 4 limbs is dying one.  Ahhh, the wonderful simplicity of a 5 Speed Getrag with a dog-leg first... 

12 June 2012

its to heavy

12 June 2012

Wow this is a change for an Audi Reveiw, an excellent RS? it is pleasing to hear as the Majority of Audi Reviews just completely rubbish the Car, could be a good thing with the split personality, maximum attack for the Track or circuit then easy to drive on the road and round town without loosing your licence in 5 seconds

12 June 2012

johnfaganwilliams

Clearly a mild error does nothing to inhibit the reader's ability to understand the author's intended meaning.

Kindly restrict your condescending and faintly hysterical instructions to your poor children, should you have them.

12 June 2012

I'll accept your mild criticism as you have the ability to use the apostrophe in the correct manner. Not sure my comment was either condescending or even mildly hysterical. I've earned my living behind a keyboard for 50 years and try to encourage grammar, spelling and syntax where I can.

13 June 2012

@johnfaganwilliams -

You missed a capital letter on your post title 'Subbing' and your first word 'Do'.  Practise what you preach if you're going to criticise others.

For someone who's spent fifty years behind a computer and likes to pick others up on 'errors', your own grammar leaves something to be desired.

An apology perhaps?

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