Successor to the now collectible 1994-95 RS2 Avant, the agile, grippy and swift RS4 is impressive on many levels and is a thoroughly well-rounded vehicle.The go-to manufacturer for executive segment high performance estates – or Avant in Audi-speak – the smaller of the Inglostadt automaker’s executive super-estates is powered by a sweet, eager and high-revving naturally-aspirated V8 engine, unleashes its power in a progressively urgent manner, but is likely to be replaced by a more efficient but probably less exacting turbocharged engine in future.
Tight, robust and cohesive, the RS4 Avant’s design is tautly wrapped and urgently sinewy. With a big foot print the RS4 has an athletic and assertive presence, while muscularly blistered wheel-arches housing huge and grippy 265/30R20 tires are a nod of homage to Audi’s most celebrated 1980-91 Quattro high performance rally-bred sports coupe. Hungry and formidable, the RS4 Avant’s and sculpted surfacing playfully fetchingly contrasts with the driven car’s vivid factory bespoke lime green paintwork.
With its gently sloping roofline tipped with a tailgate spoiler, the RS4’s other distinctive sporty details include sharp front lower air splitter and rising chrome-tipped lower rear diffuser with wide integrated oval exhaust tips. Behind the RS4’s heavily browed and slim squinting headlights, huge ringed and gaping trapezoidal honeycomb grille and wide air intakes sits an all-aluminium 4.2-litre V8 engine. Situated just ahead but as close to the front axle as possible, the RS4’s engine layout allows for its unique Quattro four-wheel-drive and improves agility over predecessors.
Eager and willing the RS4’s naturally-aspirated 4.2-litre V8 features linear delivery, crisp throttle response and high rev thrills. Swiftly accumulative, the RS4’s power delivery surges smoothly but urgently, from tick-over to redline. Rewarding and eager to be wrung hard, the RS4 develops 444BHP at a frantic and howling 8250rpm and a flexibly wide 317lb/ft torque peak throughout 4000-6000rpm. With all wheels digging tight into tarmac, the RS4 bullets from standstill to 100km/h in 4.7-seconds, while a nominal 250km/h top speed can be de-restricted to 280km/h.
Confident and flexible throughout its rev range with precise throttle control for unleashing exact power increments, the RS4 is responsive and pulls hard from tick-over, building through a versatile and muscular mid-range, before reaching its zingy, and urgent top-end. Driving all wheels through a standard-fit 7-speed automated dual clutch gearbox the RS4 shifts seamlessly, smoothly and swiftly through gears. In manual mode, one can sequentially self-shift through paddle-shifters mounted behind its chunky contoured flat-bottom steering wheel. And with direct fuel injection, the RS4 Avant returns acceptably modest 10.7l/100km combined cycle fuel efficiency.
With Quattro four-wheel-drive, the RS4 is characterized by its defining characteristics include tenacious traction to effectively put power to tarmac and seemingly never-ending grip levels through corners. Able to vary power distribution between 70% frontwards and 85% rearwards and with optional limited-slip differential, across the rear axle, the RS4 grips and goes through winding hill climbs like a roller coaster. Resolved and committed through corners, the RS4’s high grip limit is gradually telegraphed with its’ heavier front end’s natural inclination for mild un-dramatic under-steer. This is however easily corrected by easing off the throttle, as it tightens its line.
Hugely reassuring through corners, the RS4’s reduced 56% front weight bias pays dividends in making it pointier and more agile than predecessors. An agile and grippy hill climb hero the RS4 attacks corners with tidy turn-in, tautly composed body control and epic grip reserves. Quick, direct and meaty the RS4’s steering is precise through corners and reassuring on-centre at speed. A 40:60 rear-biased default power distribution lends greater agility, and with precise, progressive and crisp throttle control one can push hard and early out of corners.
Impeccably planted and with steely resolve at speed the RS4 Avant is a natural Autobahn-stormer, and is buttoned down and settled on rebound. Taut through corners, the RS4 drove smooth and firm – but not punishingly so – with optional 20-inch alloys on UAE roads. But for more imperfect road textures, standard-fit 19-inch alloys would be more forgiving. With thoroughly well-constructed feel, the RS4 is refined a discernibly sporty inside, with driver-tilted dash, supportive body-hugging sports seats, clear instrumentation and user-friendly infotainment menu, from which one access its’ adjustable vehicle driving settings and modes.
Available only in five-door Avant body, the RS4 is a practical and accommodating ‘lifestyle’ family estate with nominal 490-litre cargo volume expanding to 1430-litres with rear seats down. Classy, refined and luxurious without being ostentatious, the RS4’s cabin is well- appointed with natural leathers, metals and soft textures. Well-equipped with standard and optional sports, convenience, infotainment and safety features, the RS4’s optional equipment includes sports suspension and steering. Optional semi-autonomous driver-assistance and safety systems include adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping, blind spot and parking assists.
- Engine: 4.2-litre, in-line V8-cylinders
- Bore x stroke: 84.5 x 92.8mm
- Compression ratio: 11:1
- Valve-train: 32-valve, DOHC, direct injection
- Gearbox: 7-speed automated dual clutch, four-wheel-drive, limited-slip rear-differential
- Top gear / final drive: 0.62:1 / 4.38:1
- Power distribution, F/R: 40%:60%
- Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 444 (450)  @ 8250rpm
- Specific power: 106.7BHP/litre
- Power-to-weight: 247.3BHP/ton
- Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 317 (430) @ 4000-6000rpm
- Specific torque: 103.3Nm/litre
- Torque-to-weight: 239.5Nm/ton
- 0-100km/h: 4.7-seconds
- Top speed: 280km/h
- Fuel consumption, urban / extra-urban / combined: 14.6 / 8.5 / 10.7-litres/100km
- CO2 emissions, combined: 249g/km
- Fuel capacity: 61-litres
- Length: 4719mm
- Width: 1850mm
- Height: 1416mm
- Wheelbase: 2813mm
- Track, F/R: 1599 / 1586mm
- Overhangs, F/R: 884 / 1022mm
- Headroom, F/R: 1026 / 971mm
- Luggage volume, min / max: 490 / 1430-litres
- Unladen weight: 1795kg
- Weight distribution, F/R: 56%:44%
- Steering: Electric-assisted rack & pinion
- Turning Circle: 11.6-meters
- Suspension: Multi-link
- Brakes, front: Ventilated, perforated 365mm discs, 8-piston calipers
- Tires: 265/30R20 (optional)