New Audi RS4 Avant

Our verdict on the muscular new Audi RS4 Avant, which gets a 444bhp 4.2-litre V8 and lots of space

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The RS4 is just about all the car you could ever need. Like all the Audi RS models, it’s muscular yet understated, and delivers huge performance. What’s more, it’s practical, and less flashy than its RS5 brother. It doesn’t offer razor-sharp driving thrills, but it’s hard not to like it when it’s so effortlessly fast, and can carry the entire family plus luggage.

Audi has a sparkling reputation for fast estates, but does this new RS4 Avant provide the finesse to go with its firepower?

Our test car certainly has the desirability factor, with optional Sepang Blue paint (£615) and a £2,250 Sports Package. The latter adds enormous 20-inch alloys, sports suspension and a noisier exhaust.

The interior is right on the money, too. It includes Audi’s MMI system, a 10-speaker Bang and Olufsen stereo and carbon fibre trim, plus sat-nav with Google Maps and excellent front bucket seats, which keep you snug and comfortable.

The existence of the RS5 Coupe means that this third generation of the RS4 is only available as an estate. Still, that’s no bad thing, as it means you get an impressive 1,430 litres of seats-down luggage space on top of the car’s huge performance potential.

Under the bonnet is the same 444bhp 4.2-litre V8 as found in the RS5. It drives all four wheels through a seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch gearbox and a centre differential – which splits torque 40:60, but can send up to 85 per cent to the rear wheels. There’s also a sports rear differential, which varies torque between the left and right rear wheels.

Even on a light throttle, the V8 fires you down the road, but use the launch control and 0-62mph takes just 4.7 seconds. The noise is great, too, ranging from a deep gurgle to a full-on howl higher up the rev range, and with an angry burp each time you change gear.

On a bumpy B-road, the four-wheel drive is unflappable, leaving you to concentrate fully on steering and braking. The ceramic brakes are fantastically strong, but they need to be – the RS4 weighs 1,795kg, and it feels it in corners. There’s not much feel from the brakes, either, while the steering is a touch artificial and too heavy if you choose Dynamic mode in the Audi Drive Select system, which adjusts settings for steering, throttle, gearbox and suspension.

The engine and drivetrain are superb, but the RS4 flatters your driving, and you know deep down that it’s the car doing the work.

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