Few cars can hope to match the RS4 Avant’s astonishing mix of utility and brute power.
By Ghaith Madadha
Audi’s RS4 Avant is a rare example of a vehicle that gets pretty much everything right. It manages to simultaneously be a practical family estate and a high performance sports car. Staking its position as the go-to manufacturer in the executive super-estate niche with the 1994-95 RS2 Avant, its contemporary RS4 descendent is a future classic in the making. The RS4 might well be replaced by a more powerful and efficient turbocharged successor in the future, but this version’s high-revving V8 engine and tenacious grip mean it will go down as a classic of its type.
The RS4’s tight design lines, wide footprint, and cohesive estate body style lend it a sturdily athletic and assertive road presence. With heavily browed and slim squinting headlights, sharp lower air splitter, and massive gaping honeycomb grille and lower intakes, the RS4 Avant looks hungry and stern, and contrasts well with vivid colors like factory bespoke green, as tested.
The RS4 Avant provides crisp throttle response, linear delivery, and high rev thrills, powered by an eager and willing naturally-aspirated 4.2-liter V8. Developing 444 BHP at a haughty 8250 rpm, the RS4 digs all four driven wheels into the tarmac and pounces through 0-100 km/h in 4.7 seconds. Top speed can be de-restricted from 250 km/h to 280 km/h, while combined cycle fuel efficiency is 10.7l/100 km. The RS4’s torque, however, progressively builds to a 317 lb/ft peak at a high, but broad 4000-6000 rpm, and allows precise throttle control.
Driven through Audi’s Quattro four-wheel-drive, the RS4 Avant’s defining characteristics are its tenacious traction and seemingly boundless grip levels. Driven hard through a fast and winding hill-climb, the RS4 attacks corners with a tidy turn-in composed, flat body control, and vast grip reserves. And with precise throttle control, one can push hard and early out of corners. It’s able to transfer between 70 percent power frontwards and 85 percent rearwards (40:60 is default) and across the rear axle with optional limited-slip differential. This means the RS4 clings through corners with vice-like resolve.
The RS4 Avant is more agile and pointy than ever through corners, with the Quattro system’s unique nose-heavy layout improved for a reduced 56 percent front weight bias and a quick, direct, and meaty steering. Available only with a 7-speed automated dual clutch gearbox, the RS4 is smooth and swift through gears, and can be shifted in a sequential manual mode through paddle-shifters mounted to the back of its chunky contoured flat-bottom steering wheel.
It is well-built and appointed with natural leathers, metals, and soft textures, and has a discernibly sporty interior ambiance. The RS4’s cabin features supportive body-hugging sports seats, driver-tilted dash, clear instrumentation, and a user-friendly and intuitive infotainment menu, which also accesses vehicle driving settings and modes. The RS4 Avant, which is offered only in five-door estate body, is a practical and accommodating ‘lifestyle’ family car with 490-liter luggage volume expanding to 1,430 liters with rear seats down. Well-kitted with luxury and safety kit, the RS4 Avant can also be specified with various sports, safety, and convenience packages. Optional equipment includes sports suspension and steering and safety features with adaptive cruise control and lane, blind spot, and parking assists.
Engine: 4.2-liter, 32-valve, direct injection, in-line V8-cylinders
Gearbox: 7-speed automated dual clutch, four-wheel-drive, limited-slip rear-differential
0-100 km/h: 4.7 seconds
Top speed: 280 km/h
Fuel consumption, combined: 10 liters/100 km
CO2 emissions, combined: 249 g/km
Steering: Electric-assisted rack & pinion
Brakes, front: Ventilated,perforated discs
Tires: 265/30R20 (optional)