|Engine||Power||Torque||0-100kph||Top speed||Weight||Basic price|
|V8, 4163cc||450hp @ 8250rpm||317lb ft @ 4000-6000rpm||4.7 secs||250kph (limited)||1795kg||$78,924|
Not too long ago we drove the Audi A4, and though we heaped praise on the coupe’s poise, delicacy and handling, we thought it all a bit dull. At first, the RS4 seems to have fallen into the same pothole. The ever-present stride towards greener motoring means that, in Drive mode, long gear ratios through the seven-speed S tronic gearbox result in a rather listless response from the engine in the lower revs. Plus, with top horsepower not reached until you hit 8250rpm and top torque not available before the 4000rpm mark, the earth-spanking suggested by the looks is a little harder to come by. That is until you hit the ‘drive select’ button on the centre console, scroll through Comfort and Auto, and stop at Dynamic.
In dynamic, the sport-suspension with dynamic ride control is stiffened even more so, throttle response to the V8 is sharpened, and response through the steering is heightened. The revs, now much higher, bring those 450 horses into play, all of whom neigh in unison on the overrun in a chorus that both reverberates through the cabin and just doesn’t get old, no matter how many times you try it.
Good grief it’s quick! Acceleration is now much more aggressive, and if you nail the gear changes (and, trust me, that shouldn’t be a problem with the paddle-shift gearbox) you’ll be rocketing towards top speed at the drop of a pin, big grin firmly planted. Slamming on the enormous 365mm brake discs will bring you to a halt even quicker, though there’s also plenty of feel through the brake pedal for more delicate manoeuvring.
What does rather confuse though is the speed sensitive power steering. At low speeds, the wheel is so light there’s almost no feel at all. Once you’re up and running though and hitting 80+kph, the weight comes rolling back in to really get you working the wheel. There’s certainly plenty of grip through the front tyres and, rather cleverly, Audi’s torque vectoring system can brake the inside wheels to help with tight corners. But it all feels very artificial, the transition of weight from one extreme to another making me wonder how much input I am really having. It makes the connection to the front wheels very difficult to pin down.
There’s also the question of the suspension, which in its firmest setting is incredibly stiff and consequently makes the ride rather more bone shaking than expected. This can be fixed though if you hit Individual mode in drive select, which allows the driver to set up the ferocity/comfort of the steering, gear changes, throttle and, aptly, the suspension.
Audi’s superb Quattro all-wheel drive does mean that grip and balance is sublime despite this, while the comparative lack of stiffness over the rear wheels (compared to the A4 coupe) means the rears can start to twitch a little when you’re really on it. Unusual for an Audi certainly, but immensely entertaining and easily manageable. Haul yourself through the twists and turns and you’ll find ample lumbar support through the killer seats and beautiful balance with nary a hint of bodyroll.
It just seems a shame that all of this only comes through when you give the spurs a proper kick. The (near as makes no difference) $80,000 RS4 Avant is very good, no question, and you may be surprised how far you have to push to fully reap the benefits. On the school run, that could prove interesting.
Enjoy our Audi RS4 Avant test drive?
You can find more Audi stories HERE, and more of our Car Reviews HERE
|Engine:||V8 / 4163cc|
|Power:||450hp @ 8250rpm|
|Torque:||317lb ft @ 4000-6000rpm|
|Transmission:||Seven-speed S tronic with electrohydraulic control / quattro permanent all-wheel drive / crown-gear center differential / electronic stabilization control (ESC) / torque vectoring|
|Front suspension:||Five-link front suspension / upper and lower wishbones / solid anti-roll bar|
|Rear suspension:||Independent-wheel / trapezoidal-link rear suspension with resiliently mounted subframe / anti-roll bar|
|Brakes:||Dual-circuit brake system with diagonal split / ABS / EBD / ESP with brake assist / tandem brake booster / ventilated disks 365mm (front and rear)|
|Wheels:||20in front and rear|
|Tyres:||265/30 R20 front and rear / XL summer|
|Top speed:||250kph (electronically limited)|