Audi RS4 Avant review

Our Rating: 
4
4.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The storming new Audi RS4 Avant comes with a 444bhp 4.2-litre V8, four-wheel drive and masses of space

For: 
Incredibly fast, great V8 soundtrack, practicality
Against: 
Not as torquey as the S4, hard ride in Dynamic mode,

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The Audi RS4 Avant is a high performance estate that's almost as fast as a supercar. Rivalling the Mercedes C63 AMG Estate, it is powered by a 444bhp 4.2-litre V8 that drives all four wheels through Audi's famous quattro transmission, with a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox. It's only available in estate form this time round as Audi reckons buyers of the old saloon have migrated to the RS5 Coupe instead. Factor in adaptive suspension, enormous brakes and a high quality cabin with sports seats, enough space for the family and all their luggage, and you've got a very capable and desirable car. 
Our choice: Audi RS4 Avant 4.2 TFSI S Tronic

Styling

4.3

With its sharp-edge bulging wheelarches, dramatic air intakes at the front and chrome-tipped quad exhaust pipes at the rear, the RS4 Avant feels every inch the muscular yet still quite subtle fast Audi estate. As standard you get 19-inch alloy wheels although you can upgrade to the Sport Package which adds 20-inch 'Rotor' alloys, as well as adaptive suspension, dynamic steering and a sports exhaust. Inside there are RS4 badges everywhere, from the racy dials to the sports steering wheel and the sports seats. As ever with Audi interiors, it feels beautifully put together with quality leathers for the seats and neat carbonfibre/metal trim pieces.

Driving

4.4

Audi says that RS4 buyers demand a race-bred engine that loves to rev – and that's exactly what you get with the RS4. Whereas the S4 Avant uses a supercharged V6 that allows owners to surf on the huge torque available, the RS4 thrives on revs, and although it has lots of low-down urge, it's at its best when you take it out to the incredible 8,500rpm redline. Compared to the big 6.3-litre V8 in the C63 AMG it's not as lusty, but it's still enormously fast with 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds and the potential to hit over 170mph if you pay extra to have the speed limiter removed. Around corners, the RS4 is always secure and is capable of putting all of that performance onto the road, even in wet and slippery conditions. The Audi Drive Select system allows you to tailor the response of the transmission, steering, sport rear differential and throttle, but it all feels a bit over-complicated. A C63 AMG is much simpler and has better feedback and is more involving as a result.

Reliability

4.2

The RS4 is a very safe car indeed. As standard it comes with a very sophisticated stability control system, lots of airbags (including side and knee airbags) and, of course, four-wheel drive. Options include ceramic brakes, although the standard 'wavy' discs (so-called because their wavy shape shaves a few kilos per corner) offer brilliant stopping power. Quality is brilliant throughout and we'd expect reliability to be the same, too.

Practicality

4.2

This is where the RS4 really scores. Thanks to that estate body it has a massive 1,430 litres of boot space with the rear seats down, and plenty of room for luggage with them in place. Tall passengers will fit easily in the back, too. Despite being a performance car, it's quite comfortable. Of course, put the suspension in Dynamic mode and you'll feel every lump and bump, but select Comfort mode and it soaks up imperfections pretty well, even on the optional 20-inch alloys. Factor in relaxing motorway manners and this is certainly a fast car that will eat long distances with ease.

Running Costs

3.3

This is a super-estate, not a fleet-friendly diesel, so you should expect the RS4 to be very expensive to run. Audi claims 26.4mpg but if you rev that big V8 engine to the redline all the time, you won't get anywhere near that. With CO2 emissions of 249g/km the RS4 will always land you with an enormous road tax bill. Consumable parts like tyres will also be expensive, although the car's quattro drivetrain does at least mean the enormous power is shared more equally than in the rear-drive C63 AMG. Servicing will be pricey, as will insurance, but RS4s have always been in strong demand on the used market.

Last updated: 19 Jun, 2012
Issue 1346
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