Audi RS4 Avant

12 Jun, 2012 4:52pm Sam Hardy

We get behind the wheel of the storming new Audi RS4 Avant, which gets 444bhp and four-wheel drive


There aren’t many cars that can do it all – but the RS4 has such a sensational range of ability, it certainly gets close. It has the kind of performance to keep up with supercars, grip that gives you supreme confidence no matter what the weather and a thrilling engine note to boot. Factor in a practical estate body with lots of space, and a beautifully made, gadget-laden cabin and you've got a car that's full of appeal.
Lottery win Ferraris and Lamborghinis might be fun for the odd Sunday outing, but what if you could have a practical, four-wheel drive family car with almost the same performance – and use it every day?

Ever since the original RS2, fast estates like the Audi RS4 have developed a cult following, often finding a space in the garage of super-rich enthusiasts alongside much more exclusive metal. But aside from the R8, RS Audis have fallen off the boil lately. Both the RS5 and TT RS have been disappointments. So how does this third-generation £54,925 RS4 shape up?

This time around, the RS4 is only available as an Avant – Audi reckons buyers of the old saloon and cabrio versions have migrated to the RS5.

We reckon that’s a good thing – the Avant body boasts 1,430 litres of space and it looks fantastic in RS spec. There are big air intakes in the aggressive front bumper, bulging squared-off wheelarches, standard 19-inch alloys and a rear end that features huge chrome exhausts and a roof spoiler.

The technical specification is just as mouthwatering. Up front is an RS5-derived 444bhp 4.2-litre V8, which drives all four wheels through a seven-speed twin-clutch S tronic gearbox. Like the RS5, there’s also a centre differential - which splits torque 40:60, but can send up to 85 per cent to the rear wheels - and a sports rear differential, which varies torque left and right.

That’s not it, though, because engineers have also dropped the ride height by 20mm and fitted uprated brakes. If you want to go a step further, you can add ceramic brakes and the £2,250 Sport Package, which includes Dynamic Ride Control adaptive dampers, dynamic steering, 20-inch ‘rotor’ alloy wheels and a sports exhaust.

On the road, the RS4 Avant is incredibly fast. With 430Nm of torque and a launch control system, it rockets off the line and sprints from 0-62mph in just 4.7 seconds, which is only a tenth down on its closest rival, the 451bhp Mercedes C63 AMG Estate.

The 4.2-litre engine is phenomenal in its response. It really is supercar fast, while the noise it makes is incredible – a sensational V8 rumble, which is punctuated by pops and bangs from the exhaust when you lift off. The seven-speed S tronic gearbox is so swift and smooth that there’s the minimum pause in acceleration as it rips up through the gears.
Where the RS4 really stands out, though, is on twisty, greasy and bumpy road. Here you really feel the benefit of the quattro four-wheel-drive system and all those clever differentials: you can accelerate hard and early knowing that all that punch will be translated into forward motion. A rear-drive car like the C63 would just light up its rear tyres. 

Traction is so total on the public road that you’d have to be going very fast indeed to even induce a slide – torque vectoring does a great job in pulling the car around a corner and aiming the car down the next straight. With incredibly strong brakes, this is a fast estate that looks after you every step of the way. 

Thanks to Audi’s Drive Select system, you can play with the settings of the steering, throttle, gearbox and suspension. As ever with Audis of late, though, the steering is too heavy and lacking in feel in Dynamic mode, so it’s best to switch it to Comfort, which takes away some of that heft and makes it feel more natural. 

The RS4 always feels its 1,795kg weight in corners – as does the C63 AMG –  but that heaviness helps make it a great cruiser. It always feels rooted, particularly on the motorway, and if you put the suspension in Comfort mode it soaks up bumps pretty well, even on the optional 20-inch alloys of our test car. 

There’s no shortage of standard equipment, either. You get sports seats and a DVD sat-nav, and about the only option you’d probably want is the £1,420 Technology Package, which upgrades the sat-nav to a hard disk-based system with Google Maps and Street View and music storage, adaptive cruise control, a reversing camera and lane keep assist. 

Is this latest RS4 worthy of a place in a car enthusiast’s dream garage? It offers incredible performance, grip and all-weather usability, which all adds up to a very desirable car indeed.

Disqus - noscript

Where are the usual VAG haters!? To slate how rubbish the car is?

Same old rubbishy Audi then, 1000 odd bhp of unguided missile that they are still trying to figure out how to control. TIP: Try putting the engine in the correct place drive the wheels that are not connected to the 1000bhp (or the percentage of it) and avoid giving the vehicle the balance of a ball-pein hammer.

If it's anything like my much-missed B7 RS4 then I'll have no complaints.

Bracing myself now for the onslaught of abuse!!!

If it's anything like my much-missed B7 RS4 then I'll have no complaints.

Bracing myself now for the onslaught of abuse!!!

Point proven..... Thanks pal. YAWNNNNNNNNN

s-tronic RS4? meh

I would call @Opolock (Wot??!!??) a w..k.r but there again he probably wouldn't understand. Has he ever driven a Quattro on a wet road? Doubt it very much. No BM or Merc could live with this car in those conditions. But there again @Opolock is so busy on OPolock he'son the wrong side of the road or maybe the ditch. Mind you, does he have a driving licence? Or is it he just cant afford anything more than a Daewoo?

Ha, true jax.

I guess a family estate that can mix it up with a lambo, isn't as boring as most bloggers make out audi's to be.
As i think most would agree, there aren't many cars on the road that offer a package quite like this.

As quoted "you can accelerate hard and early knowing that all that punch will be translated into forward motion. A rear-drive car like the C63 would just light up its rear tyres."

Classy package with mental performance!!

£60,000. Need to start saving!!

In a class of its own, by any description. Just shows, MB will never get within a bulls roar of this car, regardless what stupid motor they jamb/shoehorn under the bonnet. They seriously miss the boat with a mere 2 driven wheels. No doubt some blinkered poster will maintain the holier than thou M 'anything' will be superior, being merely 2WD. Bunkum!!! If youre tanking on, and lose it, this car alone will save you. I want one......

I tend to slow down in the wet, because the car I drive can communicate through its chassis, steering and brakes that that would be quite enough for the circumstances, something that Audi types have no idea about as the driving controls do not communicate that well, speaking of Daewoods, I would think you know all about the feeling you would get from driving would be understeer, just like Audis, understeer lets "novice" drivers know they are going to fast as it is the "natural order" you take your foot of the gas and all is well and that's fine.
You think Ferrari, BMW, Lotus and any other serious performance car makers is all about silly power and driving fast in the rain, no its about feeling feedback, finesse, balance things which take years and generations to hone and are not easily achievable by just adding 4wd and gizmo';s.

In the end though, you go with what manufacturing ethos you feel most comfortable with.

Have you finished your homework yet, your mum's calling you down for tea?. :-)
You clearly haven't to a clue what you're talking about.

On a dry race track a Ferrari 458 will almost certainly be faster than an RS4, but in the real world, the 458 probably oldnt see which way the RS' went.
You can also use he Audi every day whereas a Ferrari is most definitely a second or even third car. The first year depreciation on a Ferrari would be more than the purchase price of the RS4.
The point I'm trying to make is that it is a pointless comparison.
However, even Ferrari are playing with 4WD, albeit badly.

I don't like Audi but I like the RS4. To me this is the original sporty Audi.

Your comments about opolock are spot on!! I used to rally,and do have a competition licence so his comments about feedback are utter nonsense. The techniques for 4 wheel and 2 wheel driving are wholly different which opolock obviously has no clue. The 4 wheel technique allows faster and safer passage which opo does not understand either. Funny to reflect that Audi won the BTCC for several years during the 90's. Opo is probably too young to know it but eventually they were weight penalised because the 2 wheel opposition were simply outclassed. Does opolock put those drivers as incapable in line with his puerile views? Eventually,Audi withdrew because they weren't allowed to use Quattro!! And Opolock, watch Le Mans. Audi must be in with a chance do you not think? Bit of advice Opolock, go and drive one before passing any more facile comments.

So,Audi's are for scared drivers eh? Did you watch Le Mans? Suggest you forward your comments to the winning team's drivers; oh, and to the second team and you might add the 4th. Plonker.

1st, 2nd,3rd and 5th actually. :-)
Oh, and the 1st and 2nd place cars had 4WD.

Obviously the finer points of road cars is lost on Coventry paul, he must own one on the blunder-buses me-thinks, too frightened to try a RWD car and trying to live his driving and make his point through notions of motor-sport. It does'nt matter what sport they compete in, any serious motor-sport driver will tell you the worst thing you can have in a car is under the way the fact that these are purpose built sport cars just reaffirms the points made in my original post here about whats wrong with Audi's for the road not, for when these issues are addressed for motor sport. By the way Audi won 1 BTCC championship during the 90's (1996 Frank Biela Germany Audi Sport† Audi A4 Quattro) so maybe your Mum should ensure you have completed your own homework before letting you watch the telly.

I work for Lotus, I track them very regularly. I also have plenty track experience with various Audi RS's. Audi RS's get huge grip from 4WD and Lotus's get their grip from their chassis and sheer lightness. Yes, Audi RS's did tend to nod towards understeer when you drive them certain ways, but what i don't get is, why you didn't read the review that we are all posting on. It clearly states that its a good drive, and never even mentions that it drives like any older RS's! Why if you have never driven this car, do you complain about other cars that you don't like?

Just seems a bit pointless really, and just makes you sound a bit dumb too. Especially when you start claiming who won what in which year. I can Wiki too.

Memory fade but even Homer nods. USA was the series. VizTouring cars
In 1990, having completed their objective to market cars in North America, Audi returned to Europe, turning first to the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM) series with the Audi V8, and then in 1993, being unwilling to build cars for the new formula, they turned their attention to the fast growing Super Touring series, which are a series of national championships. Audi first entered in the French Supertourisme and Italian Superturismo. In the following year, Audi would switch to the German Super Tourenwagen Cup (known as STW), and then to British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) the year after that.
The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), having difficulty regulating the quattro four-wheel drive system, and the impact it had on the competitors, would eventually ban all four-wheel drive cars from competing in 1998[citation needed], but by then, Audi switched all their works efforts to sports car racing.
By 2000, Audi would still compete in the US with their RS4 for the SCCA Speed World GT Challenge, through dealer/team Champion Racing competing against Corvettes, Vipers, and smaller BMWs (where it is one of the few series to permit 4WD cars). In 2003, Champion Racing entered an RS6. Once again, the quattro four-wheel drive was superior, and Champion Audi won the championship. They returned in 2004 to defend their title, but a newcomer, Cadillac with the new Omega Chassis CTS-V, gave them a run for their money. After four victories in a row, the Audis were sanctioned with several negative changes that deeply affected the car's performance. Namely, added ballast weights, and Champion Audi deciding to go with different tyres, and reducing the boost pressure of the turbocharger.
In 2004, after years of competing with the TT-R in the revitalised DTM series, with privateer team Abt Racing/Christian Abt taking the 2002 title with Laurent Aïello, Audi returned as a full factory effort to touring car racing by entering two factory supported Joest Racing A4 DTM cars.

Whilst my daily driver is a 4WD (Range Rover), my fun car is a 500+bhp RWD with absolutely no driver aids. I've owned 3 RS Audis and they were all seriously quick and great fun in their own ways.
Unfortunately, I'm rather a long way past doing homework.

Whilst my daily driver is a 4WD (Range Rover), my fun car is a 500+bhp RWD with absolutely no driver aids. I've owned 3 RS Audis and they were all seriously quick and great fun in their own ways.
Unfortunately, I'm rather a long way past doing homework.

Oops sorry. Double post.

@opolock give it up your getting schooled son

Key specs

* Audi RS4 Avant
* Price: £54,925 (£58,595 as tested)
* Engine: 4.2-litre V8
* Power: 444bhp at 8,250rpm
* Torque: 430Nm at 4,000rpm
* Top speed: 155mph
* 0-62mph: 4.7 seconds
* Economy: 26.4mpg
* CO2: 249g/km
* Equipment: Quattro four-wheel drive, centre and sports rear differential, 20-inch alloys, satellite navigation, dynamic ride control, torque vectoring
* On sale: September