2007 Audi RS4 – Test drive and new car review – 2007 Audi RS4

29 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2007 Audi RS4 – Test drive and new car review – 2007 Audi RS4
Audi RS4

Audi’s family-friendly supercar

The 2007 Audi RS4 represents the ultra-high-end of sports sedans. Based on the A4, the RS4 has a 420 horsepower V8 engine, all-wheel-drive, specially tuned suspension, and the soul of a race car, all wrapped in a four-door body that makes it a surprisingly useful family car. The price is steep, even for a German car — $68,820 base (including destination and $2100 gas guzzler tax), $73,520 as tested, and with EPA fuel economy estimates of 14 MPG city and 21 highway, it’s no Honda Fit.

Is the RS4 with the dough? Read on.

First Glance: A supercar you can enjoy every day

When I first got my driver’s license, I looked for any excuse to drive, no matter how short the distance. What’s that, Dad, we’re low on milk? I’ll just drive out to the store and get some.

I found myself doing the same thing in the RS4.

That’s saying a lot, because most supercars can’t be enjoyed without a racetrack handy. For day-to-day driving, they’re pretty useless. But that’s not the case with the Audi RS4.

I enjoyed every single drive, even the half-mile run to the supermarket (top speed: 35 MPH), which I did no fewer than sixty-two times during test week.

And make no mistake, the RS4 is a true supercar. Its over-the-top hardware makes it go, stop and turn with amazing speed and agility. At the RS4’s heart is a 420 horsepower 4.2 liter V8 (link goes to photo) with FSI direct fuel injection. FSI improves throttle response and fuel economy (which isn’t too bad, all things considered; I averaged 15.7 MPG).

The 4.2 is used in other Audis, but the RS4’s version is unique both for its higher 8250 RPM redline and the delicious noises it makes. The engine produces 90% of its 317 lb-ft of torque from 2,250 to 7,600 RPM. You almost can’t be in the wrong gear — no matter how slowly the engine is turning, a prod of the gas pedal makes the car take off.

The RS4 comes exclusively with a 6-speed manual and Quattro all-wheel-drive, tuned to split the power 40% front/60% rear and vary it as needed. Audi says the RS4 will run from 0 to 60 in an amazing 4.8 seconds and on to 155 MPH before the computer steps in and says No more.

Continued below.

In the Driver’s Seat: Comfort and confusion

Like most Audis, RS4’s interior is dark and functional with overly-complex secondary controls (stereo, navigation, A/C)

Photo #169; Aaron Gold

I have a love-hate relationship with Audi interiors. Love: They’re comfortable and clearly designed with driving as the main priority. Hate: They’re dark and overly complex. Take the button-happy climate control system: Dials simply work better.

And the stereo and navigation systems on my test car were integrated into Audi’s Multi-Media Interface (MMI), which requires a master’s degree in computer science to operate. Every time you turn the system on it displays a distracting nag screen that warns against distraction while driving. Ironic, no?

Dark though the RS4’s interior may be — black is the only color choice — it’s quite comfortable. Leather-lined and carbon-fiber trimmed, it features heated and power-adjustable front seats by racing seat manufacturer Recaro. The back seat is decent and the trunk is generous.

That’s one of the most amazing things about the RS4: With all the emphasis on its superior performance, it’s easy to forget that it’s such a practical family hauler.

My test car had a $4,700 Premium Package that included a navigation system, auto-dimming rear- and side-view mirrors. automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, heated rear seats, premium Bose stereo and sunshades for the back and rear-side windows, the former power-operated from a button on the dash. Rear-seat-mounted torso airbags are the only other option.

On the Road: Where all the technology comes together

Compared to the A4 and S4. the RS4 sits lower and has a stiffer suspension and wider track (distance between the wheels — note the flared fenders). A non-electronic Dynamic Ride Control system interconnects the shock absorbers to keep body pitch and roll under control.

The big 19 wheels have huge openings which show off the multi-piston brakes with cross-drilled rotors. They allow repeated hard stops without the ills of overheating brakes. There’s even a sport button that makes the exhaust note sound deeper.

How cool is that?

I’ve told you how it all works; now let me tell you how it all works together. Heading into a corner at 5000 RPM, engine screaming and exhaust blatting, is a magical experience. It’s hard to loosen the RS4’s grip on the pavement, and if you do, it’s surprisingly docile. The electronic stability control system is amazingly unobtrusive; it seems to know exactly how much rope you need to hang yourself and gives you just a quarter-inch less.

Push the RS4 hard enough and it will start to slide, with the electronic stability control stepping in just enough to point you in the right direction while still allowing a little tail-out (oversteer) action. The RS4 makes even a mediocre driver like me feel like he’s A. J. Foyt. It’s incredible.

Audi RS4

What’s even more amazing is how comfortable the RS4’s ride is. Yes, it’s firm, but it’s not painful. The RS4 may handle like a race car, but it sure doesn’t ride like one.

You gotta love those German engineers — they may not be much for easy-to-use stereos, but they sure know how to create a superior suspension.

Journey’s End: For drivers only

The heart of the beast: 420 horsepower 8,250 RPM V8 engine

Photo #169; Aaron Gold

Would I buy an RS4? That’s a moot point; I can’t afford the $69,000 base price, let alone the $73,520 tab for my tester. But let’s pretend I could afford to drop that kind of money on a car.

Would I buy the RS4, even with the things I don’t like, such as the confusing stereo and hyper-complex climate controls?

Hell yeah, I would.

Because the bottom line is that I love to drive. The RS4 encompasses most of the things I dislike about Audis, but it also encompasses what I love about them: The use of technology to further the joy of driving.

If you’re looking for a high-end car to show off, the Audi RS4 isn’t your best choice. Chances are only car enthusiasts will know just how special the RS4 is. It’s not available with an automatic and it will buck like an angry bronco if you don’t handle the clutch just right.

There are lots of cars that are flashier and easier to drive smoothly, and most of them cost less. If you want a high-end Audi that’s easier to live with, check out the 340 hp Audi S4. which is only half a second slower to 60, or the roomier V10-powered S6. Both are available with an automatic and both are superiffic (new word!) to drive.

But if you’re looking for the ultimate family-friendly driver’s car, then by all means buy the Audi RS4. The RS4 goes like stink, corners like a racing car and makes noises that’ll make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. Driving it is darn close to a religious experience. When it comes to sport sedans, the RS4 is simply as good as it gets. — Aaron Gold

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