Audi RS4 Avant
A spiritual successor to the Porsche-tuned RS2, the RS4 Avant blends supercar power with estate practicality
A power struggle between the big three German motor manufacturers gave rise to the incredible RS4 in 2006. The previous generation of the flagship A4 had picked up where the old RS2 left off, and was only available as a practical Avant estate.
With a 375bhp 2.7-litre bi-turbo V6 engine, this model had kept Audi at the top of the performance load-carrier class – but when production came to an end in 2001, RS4 fans faced a five-year wait for its replacement.
It was worth it, though, because this car saw the RS4 come of age. Offered in saloon, Avant and Cabriolet bodystyles, it had a spec sheet to make its competitors tremble.
The centrepiece of the newcomer was a mighty 4.2-litre V8 that produced 414bhp and a muscular 430Nm of torque. Bulging wheelarches leave you in no doubt about its potential, although these are blended with tidy detailing to provide a well judged mixture of aggression and subtlety for which modern Audis are now famous. And from behind the wheel, it’s easy to see why this car features in our greatest quattros line-up.
The beautiful flat-bottomed leather steering wheel, figure-hugging sports seats and perfect driving position make the cabin feel genuinely special, while the throaty rumble of the V8 sets the RS4 apart. In terms of driver involvement, it remains one of the best quattro models ever – the sharp handling, agility and breathtaking traction made it a stern rival to the BMW M3 and Mercedes C63 AMG. Despite excellent body control, there’s a suppleness to the suspension that means the Audi isn’t as hard to live with as you might expect. Hi-tech options included ceramic brakes, while the standard Sport button sharpened the throttle response and improved the wonderful exhaust note.
If production hadn’t ceased last year, the car would still be vying for class honours in this ultra-competitive sector. And that’s why we can’t wait to find out what an RS4 version of the latest A4 will have to offer!
WHY: Supercar performance from an estate!
In this review
- 1IntroductionAudi's new RS5 has been launched on the 30th anniversary of Audi's quattro system. Here we hit the race track in 11 of the best four-wheel-drive cars has ever made...
- 2Audi UR QuattroOne of the first passenger cars to feature four wheel drive, the UR Quattro's engine, looks and handling propelled it to legendary status
- 3Audi Rally QuattroAfter transforming rallying for good, the Rally Quattro went on to win just about everything - with up to 600bhp under the bonnet
- 4Audi Sport QuattroThe 2.1-litre engine in the Sport Quattro produces 307bhp and shoots it to 60mph in 4.8 seconds. Not bad for 1984, or now for that matter
- 5Audi S2 CoupeSmoother S2 was a major departure from original Quattro.
- 6Audi RS2 AvantPorsche and Audi joined forces and engineered the 315bhp RS2 Avant. Less than 3000 were made and even fewer were RHD.
- 7Audi A4 Touring CarFielding an all-wheel drive Audi in the BTCC gave it the notoriety it deserved. It also got 4WD cars banned from entering ever again.
- 8Audi TT SportThe lighter, tuned TT Sport turned the already great TT into a proper drivers' car
- 9Audi RS4 Avant - currently readingA spiritual successor to the Porsche-tuned RS2, the RS4 Avant blends supercar power with estate practicality
- 10Audi RS6The most powerful production Audi ever belongs in this list for that reason alone
- 11Audi TTSExtra power, sharper steering and better dynamics add extra thrills to the already superb TT
- 12Audi R8Fantastic handling, outstanding performance and looks that stop traffic, the R8 is an outstanding car