For anyone who loves high performance cars – but must also accept the realities of everyday life – the RS4 Avant is in a class of its own. It’s blisteringly fast, tenacious in all conditions thanks to its quattro all-wheel drive and accommodates families, luggage or sports kit with ease. The latest model, announced at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2017, is faster, more fuel-efficient and more rewarding to drive than ever. An instant classic.
The RS4 Avant manages to pull off the feat of looking both subtle and distinctive. It’s based on the same bodyshell as the A4 Avant, but with the wheel arches pushed out a further 30mm for a wider stance and greater grip. The front gets a hungry, assertive Audi grille in black honeycomb with massive air intakes to direct cooling air at brakes or radiators. At the rear you’ll find oval tailpipes, a bespoke diffuser and a roof-mounted spoiler. The car also sits 7mm lower than its A4 cousin. The Carbon Edition model offers trim in that finish, 20” alloy wheels, sports exhaust and red brake callipers. Choose Nogaro Blue if you want to make a statement, grey or black to ride under the radar.
Inside, Audi extends its reputation for outstanding design, ergonomics and quality. The sports seats are in Nappa leather and feature honeycomb stitching in a contrast colour, the steering wheel is flat-bottomed and, like the gearlever knob, is in leather with RS badging.
If you’re considering the RS4 Avant, this is probably the paragraph you’ll skip to first. So, here’s the top line; the new 2.9-litre turbocharged V6 develops 450 metric horsepower and 600Nm of torque, which is more than the V8-powered model it replaces, yet it is also cleaner and more fuel-efficient, claiming 32.1 mpg in the combined cycle. The reaches the road via quattro all-wheel drive with an eight-speed auto transmission and a sports differential. It’ll hit 62mph from a standstill in 4.1 seconds, and what makes this car such a unique proposition is that it can dish out performance to embarrass a supercar in all conditions, four-up and with luggage on board.
You’re unlikely to need to scan the options list as the RS4 Avant comes with a long list of standard equipment, including LED interior lighting, keyless go, parking assistance, voice control, 3D Navigation and Audi’s MMI touch control interface. Audi’s acclaimed 12.3” Virtual Cockpit, which allows the driver to select the specific layout and data he or she requires, is bespoke for this model and can include virtual gauges for torque and g-force.
The RS4 Avant includes Audi Connect Safety and Service (3-year subscription), Electronic Stabilisation Control (ESC) including ABS, ASR and EDL, multi-collision brake assist, a pop-up bonnet for pedestrian protection in the event of an accident, and City Pre-Sense to avoid it happening in the first place. In 2015 the latest A4 gained a full EuroNCAP five-star rating.
The letters RS carry a cachet for anyone who knows their high-performance cars and the latest RS4 Avant polishes the halo to an even more dazzling shine. The new 2.9-litre V6 outmuscles the V8-powered model it replaces and does so with panache. If you’re choosing a car for a long, high-speed journey (and need to carry more than one passenger and a toothbrush) the RS4 Avant is arguably top of a shortlist of one.