Audi RS4 Avant

Audi has successfully mixed outrageous performance with sensible practicality for decades, and it has done it again with the latest RS4 Avant.

Even in the company of the best performance cars of 2012, all our testers looked longingly at this new estate-only model when it arrived in Wales.

With swollen wheelarches, twin exhausts and large alloys inspired by the fine, fast Audi estates of old, it promised much. However, it was our experience at the wheel that convinced us the latest RS4 is one of the best yet.

The cabin is upmarket and faultless, but it’s the gutsy 444bhp V8 that blows you away. It offers scintillating acceleration, with the help of all-wheel-drive traction and rapid gearshifts from the dual-clutch transmission.

Each time you shift up, there’s a throaty warble from the exhaust, while every downchange is accompanied by a spine-tingling bark as the automated throttle blip helpsthe next ratio slot home.

Grip levels are staggering, body control superb and the brakes strong. Few cars are as easy to drive fast or as happy to be driven slowly. The electric steering is a little artificial, but Audi’s Drive Select system allows you to fine tune its weighting, along with the throttle response and gearbox speed. Plus, you can take the technology tally even higher by adding optional carbon brakes, adaptive dampers and dynamic steering.

Understated yet aggressive, fast yet practical, focused yet comfortable – the Audi RS4 is a practical, yet potent, performance car.

Behind the wheel

Tom Phillips, Web reporter

I was a huge fan of the original, V8-engined Audi RS4 that made its debut in 2005, so I was itching to get my hands on this latest version. Like its predecessor, the newcomer delivers a compelling blend of scorching straight-line pace and confidence-inspiring all-weather ability. On top of that, it’s beautifully built, very refined and extremely practical. It’s the ultimate everyday supercar.

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