Bodystyle, dimensions and technical details

This new twin-turbo V6 engine is a 2.9-litre unit, shared with the RS5 and derived from the 3.0-litre TFSI found in more conservative Audis. As is now common, the turbochargers are positioned within the valley of its cylinders with the aim of reducing lag, but the more promising attribute for a traditionally nose-heavy beast is that this powerplant weighs 31kg less than before.

It’s a vastly more potent thing too, developing 443lb ft from just 1900rpm. The car it replaces provided just 317lb ft if you made the requisite foray to 4000rpm.

I'm not particularly enamoured with this V6. It's brutally effective but a bit one-dimensional. The ESP is beautifully calibrated, mind

The drivetrain is more familiar, though. Audi might be experimenting with rear-wheel drive for the R8 supercar, but all-wheel drive has been a defining attribute of the RS4 Avant and so it is with the latest model.

During normal driving, the system distributes a fraction more power to the rear axle than the front, although should those front tyres begin to slip, up to 70% can be sent through the rear sport differential. Likewise, this drivetrain can haul the car out of the slower bends by sending up to 85% of power to the front axle.

Wheel articulation is catered for by five-link suspension front and rear, and although the standard car rides on a passive set-up, Audi’s Dynamic Ride Control, with its hydraulically interlinked dampers, is available as an option and was fitted to our test car. All in, the RS4 rides 7mm lower than a standard A4 Avant equipped with sports suspension, and the wheel arches are a chunky 30mm wider too.

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Other giveaways that this car has a trick or two up its sleeve are huge air intakes at the front and plenty of honeycomb grille. Audi, perhaps dubiously, says the car’s details are inspired by the 90 quattro GTO, the spectacularly mad IMSA sportscar competitor of 1989. That car was turbocharged to dangerous levels.