Audi RS4 Avant12 | 02 | 2018Scotcars rating

    Audi 'downsizes' its new RS4 Avant but still delivers a 444bhp beast: and wow is it fast

    OCCASIONALLY, AND THOSE occasions are becoming less common, I test a car which just has me beaming. One which feels as close as you can get to a ‘street legal’ race car. And one which just wants you to find any excuse to nip out, and drive it … whether that be just out for a dander, or quickly: very quickly. The new Audi RS4 Avant is one such car. (Related: Audi launches rear-wheel drive V10 R8)

    It’s a beast. There’s no other word for it: a beast. Sure the engine has been ‘downsized’ — out has gone the 4.2-litre V8 from the previous model, to be replaced by a 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6, which delivers as near as dammit the same 444bhp — but, wow, is it fast?

    And not only does it look quick, with its cool, deliciously flared wheelarches, but you can sense how fast it is through your fingertips as you caress the sporty Alcantara-lined steering wheel. (Related: Audi reveals new A6 with mild-hybrid)

    Powered by the same engine found in the lighter RS5 coupe, the new fourth-generation RS4 Avant will catapult from standstill to 62mph in 4.1secs. That’s 0.6s quicker than the previous V8 version. It also tops out at 174mph, as long as you’ve ticked the option box for the RS Dynamic package. Otherwise, it’s electronically limited to 155mph as standard. And boy, on the road  it’s not just fast … it feels fast.


    There are other notable improvements. Yes it delivers 125lb/ft more torque, but more significantly it generates 25% less CO2 on the test cycle. Plus it will eke out an extra 5.7mpg. The latter is relative, of course. Audi quotes a combined figure of 32.1mpg. Drive it as it should be driven, and you’re looking at low 20s … or even lower, into the teens.

    Frugal it is not. Mad, stonkingly good fun it most certainly is. (Related: Gordon Shedden switches to WTCR with Audi)

    Tipping the scales 80kg less than the outgoing RS4, 31 of those kilos come from the downsized 2.9-litre V6 weighing less than the big V8. But it’s still no lightweight; it stands at 1790kg.


    But heh! Does that really matter when you have such an abundance of power and acceleration, plus the reassuring security of Audi’s iconic quattro four-wheel drive. Under normal driving conditions, the system splits power 40:60 front:rear. When conditions change and become more slippery, quattro can instantly shift as much as 85% of torque to the front wheels, or 70% to the car.

    On a cold, wet, miserable sleety day in Northamptonshire, the system was imperious. Never once did the car raise any concerns about traction. And I wasn’t driving it as a ‘blue rinse brigade’ pensioner on their way to the local bridge club.

    This latest RS4 Avant also benefits from a new  electronically-controlled Sport rear differential. This has the ability to precisely portion more or less torque to each individual rear wheel as required. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also torque vectoring by braking fitted as standard.


    There’s only one gearbox option, Audi’s super-slick eight-speed Tiptronic torque converter auto, which replaces the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission from its predecessor. Plus the latest model gets a set of paddleshifts located behind the steering wheel for those F1-type finger-flicking gearchanges.

    Audi has opted to only build the latest RS4 in Avant form — that’s estate, to you and me — and it’s the shape I believe suits the car best. It also means you get a decent-sized, flat-floored bootspace; though just check you haven’t loaded your two favourite Labradors before you start hurling the car along your favourite, twisty cross-country road.


    Without question, the RS4 Avant has presence; real presence. Those muscular wheelarches — which add 24mm to the car’s width — allied to the RS4 squatting 30mm closer to the ground, combine to ensure it looks mean and powerful. Standard alloys are 19in, though again you can tick the option box for 20in wheels.

    Pop round the back and you can’t miss the huge oval exhaust outlets, plus dark vents — disappointingly only serving an aesthetic use — which flank the tail-lights, again combining to accentuate the cars width.


    So much for the outside. What’s it like inside? Well … it’s an Audi. And that means fixtures and fittings, plus styling and ergonomics which are difficult to find fault with. Everything is where you’d want it to be, and when you touch, push, twist and click something, it simply does it at a level of refinement and quality other manufacturers merely strive to attain.

    Audi’s brilliant digital Virtual Cockpit TFT instrument panel is standard, and sits informatively behind the steering wheel. And in the RS4, the Virtual Cockpit gains extra RS-specific displays including boost pressure, tyre pressures, power and torque output. There’s even a G-meter.


    One of the features I love, simply because it means you can keep your eyes on the road at all times, is the crystal clear, pin-sharp head-up display which is beamed on to the windscreen. In addition to the usual vehicle speed and sat-nav instructions, it displays the oil temperature. If you ever decide to hurl your RS4 Avant round Knockhill, it even displays a lap timer.

    And while hugely-bolstered and quilted sports seats will ensure you don’t slide about as you throw yourself down Duffus Dip, or through the left-right chicane, they’re equally adept at making sure you arrive feeling relaxed after a long motorway journey.


    But it’s on a cross-country route where you’ll find the RS4 Avant really deliver and impress. There’s masses of lateral grip and traction, and when you want to hustle along, the car is hugely rewarding and confidence-inspiring. And when you want it to perform simply as a car to nip into Waitrose for the weekly shop, it’s pleasantly undemanding.

    In many ways then the Audi RS4 Avant is the perfect combination. It’ll deliver dependable, refined daily transport while, when you get the urge, seamlessly transform itself into an absurdly fast, eye-openingly rapid high performance sportscar. And all the time, with the ability to satisfy the requirements of a family of four … and even a dog, or two.

    If you’ve got the £61,625 required to acquire the key to the new Audi RS4 Avant, I would strongly recommend you pick up the phone, call your local dealership, and arrange a test drive. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

    Related: Roadtest — Audi Q5 2.0TFSI S Line S tronic

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    Jim McGill

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £61,625 / £79,975
    Engine / Power: 2894cc, V6, twin-turbocharged, petrol with 8-spd auto / 444bhp
    How fast?: 0-62mph 4.1sec / Max 155mph (optionally derestricted 174mph)
    How big/heavy?: L4781mm W1866mm (excl mirrors) H1461mm / 1790kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: 32.1mpg combined / 199g/km CO2
    InsGP/Road tax: n/a / n/a
    Alternatives: Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate, Alpina B3 BiTurbo Touring

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