So the biggest change in this fourth generation RS4 Avant lies under the bonnet where the previous 4.2-litre naturally-aspirated V8 has been replaced by a biturbo 2.9-litre V6.
The Audi single-frame grille is wider and flatter than before and of course has the honeycomb structure typical of what’s a trademark of the RS series.
The latest RS4 Avant is longer (by 62 mm) and wider (by 16 mm) than the discontinued one. It’s lower and the blisters above the wheel guards give it a distinctly different appearance, which made it noticeably sportier than a mate’s S4 Avant when we stood them side by side.
There’s a fairly conservative body kit with an RS-specific diffuser insert, oval tailpipes and a spoiler lip.
Inside there are Nappa leather sports seats with honeycomb stitching and a flat-bottomed steering wheel, both with RS logos which also feature on the door sill trims and gear selector lever.
A sunroof is standard but Audi offers a delete option for those who don’t want to sacrifice headroom.
There are three optional designs to the 20-inch alloy wheels: gloss black, carbon or matt aluminium.
The hottest Avant comes with standard infotainment features such as the Audi virtual cockpit, Audi connect, smartphone interface and DAB+ digital radio, as well as a high-end Bang & Olufsen 3-D sound system.
Interestingly, the V6 turbo-petrol engine matches the old V8’s 331 kW of power. But the real advantage of using a blower to pump lots of extra air into the engine is the way produce far more torque. The new V6 has an impressive extra 170 Nm of torque over the 430 Nm of the V8, bringing it up to 600 600 Nm at only 1900 rpm.
Transmission is through an eight-speed ZF torque-converter automatic mated to Audi’s quattro permanent all-wheel drive system.
Three different drive settings are offered: Individual, Dynamic and Comfortable set through the standard Audi drive select system.
New RS4 Avant has autonomous emergency braking adaptive; blind spot warning; cruise control with traffic jam assist and lane departure warning: rear cross traffic assist; attention assist that monitors possible driver lapse; park assist for parallel or perpendicular spaces; and high beam assist.
There’s even an exit warning system to alert those opening the traffic-side doors into a possible impact zone.
There are also three pre-sense warning systems to avoid or reduce potential collisions.
Audi’s Pre-Sense Basic uses a number of safety systems including electronic stability control to identify possible loss of control and then pretensions seatbelts, closes all windows and sunroof and activates the hazard lights.
Pre-Sense Front combines the autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection systems at speeds up to 85 km/h, as well as turn assist, collision avoidance assist and high-beam assist.
Pre-Sense Rear uses rear mounted sensors to detect an impending rear-end collision and closes all windows, pre-tensions seatbelts as well as activating high visibility hazard lights to increase the likelihood of alerting the driver of the approaching vehicle.
The Audi RS4 front seats are setup for cornering support but aren’t overly aggressive for day-to-day driving. The rear seats are best used by two but an extra child can travel back there.
There’s some turbo lag from the new high-tech unit but it’s minimal and probably not a lot more than throttle lag in older style non-turbo cars.
Once everything in the powertrain is up and running to maximum output the combination of quattro drive and lowdown grunt is guaranteed to put a big smile on the face of anyone who loves hot cars.
The added engine grunt complements a weight reduction of 80 kg. This hot station wagon has a zero-to-100 km/h time of just 4.1 seconds – not bad for a grocery getter…
The RS sport suspension with Dynamic Ride Control has the car sitting much lower than the A4 production model. Audi also offers optional ceramic brakes and dynamic steering with RS-specific tuning.
But it’s not all about fanging off the line at maximum torque or low flying on motorways, some of our initial testing of the RS4 Avant involved us in a traverse Australia’s Great Dividing Range with a long series of winding ascents and descents. Even at speed and in Comfort mode the car maintained a vice-like grip on the road through even the tightest of corners and never looked like getting into trouble.
We used the drive select system in Comfort mode; Dynamic produced a much stiffer driving experience that’s probably best left for track days.
Audi RS4 quattro is a brilliant piece of automotive engineering that not only provides a great deal of driving pleasure, but also gives you a sensible load carrying vehicle.
I’ve done many hundreds of hours of driving on autobahns in Germany and noticed that the most common vehicles in the fast lane are black Audi station wagons piloted by reps in a big hurry.
Having driven standard and RS Audis there and admired the lane discipline it always really frustrates me to get back home to Australia and experienced the sloppiness and aggression on our motorways.
AT A GLANCE
RS4 Avant 2.9-litre turbo-petrol five-door wagon: $152,900
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Audi dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Audi RS4 Avant 2.9-litre turbo-petrol five-door wagon)
Capacity: 2.894 litres
Configuration: Six cylinder turbo
Maximum Power: 331 kW @ 5700 rpm
Maximum Torque: 600 Nm @ 1900 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded petrol
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.9 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 202 g/km
Eight-speed tiptronic automatic
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4781 mm
Wheelbase: 2826 mm
Width: 1866 mm
Height: 1404 mm
Turning Circle: 11.7 metres
Kerb Mass: 1790 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 58 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Three years / unlimited kilometres