Drive – Audi RS4 Review

6 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Drive – Audi RS4 Review
Audi RS4

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Is late really better than never? Well, in the case of this Audi RS4, it will have to do. The RS4 was launched in May and should have appeared on this page soon after.

But twice it was pulled from our grasp, each time following a test thrashing on a racetrack – arguably its native habitat – that left the tyres in need of dire attention.

But what about the real world, where most of these cars are likely to spend most of their time?

At $164,500, the RS4 costs about $30,000 more than its already-hot S4 brother. Rivals in its sights include BMW’s class-leading M3 ($140,000) and Mercedes-Benz’s V8-powered C55 AMG ($159,500). A wagon version (or Avant in Audi-speak) arrives soon.

The differences between the RS4 and S4 are significant. An all-new 4.2-litre direct-injection V8 debuts and the quattro all-wheel-drive system has been revised. Everything from the suspension and brakes to even the seating has been enhanced for a more enticing driving experience.

The visual differences, meanwhile, are subtle but speak volumes about its intended vocation. The guards are pumped nicely to accommodate a wider track and big 19-inch rims, and the beautifully integrated rear spoiler and drainpipe exhausts add discreet muscle.

Inside it’s typical A4, apart from some unique trim, a snazzy, flat-bottomed steering wheel and Recaro sports seats. The latter grip the torso securely and feature inflatable bolsters for a tighter hold, but make getting in and out a pain and are only manually adjustable.

The crowning glory of the RS4 is undoubtedly its rev-hungry new V8, which pumps out an astounding 309 kW at 7800 rpm. At low revs there’s nothing to suggest what’s to come, but hold your foot past 5000 rpm and the power delivery spikes noticeably, the soundtrack hardens and momentum starts building with serious intensity.

Audi claims a swift 4.8 seconds for the 0-100 km/h sprint, putting the RS4 in some serious sports car territory.

A cool if somewhat gimmicky feature is the Sport button on the steering wheel. Press it and the throttle response is altered, a flap in the exhaust is lowered for a meatier sound and the seat sides grip you harder. Boys will love it.

It’s not all good news, though.

Our RS4 quaffed nearly 20 L/100 km during the urban section of our road test loop, enough to drain the 63-litre tank in little more than 300 kilometres. After a stint of highway cruising, our average was a still considerable 13.7 L/100 km.

And the six-speed manual shift, despite being admirably quick and precise, feels a touch springy and artificial.

There’s no getting around the rest of the package – it’s on the ball. The new quattro all-wheel-drive system foregoes the 50/50 front/rear split for a new 40/60 set-up, and although you still get brilliant traction in slippery conditions the Audi has none of the indifference of its predecessors when asked to turn into a corner.

Much better balanced, with responsive steering, strong brakes, massive grip and a real sense of poise, the RS4 finally delivers the serious thrills that hot Audis have threatened but never really managed in the past.

The pay-off for the RS4’s awesome abilities is a somewhat restless ride and plenty of tyre noise, but the top A4 retains a sense of compliance and refinement that makes it an entirely agreeable companion on a day-to-day basis.

Whether these newfound dynamic smarts elevate the RS4 to the top of the sports sedan pile we can’t say, but it would have to be in with a big shout.

Price and equipment

Audi RS4

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

At $164,500, the RS4 costs about $30k more than its already hot S4 brother but the differences are manifold. An all-new 4.2-litre direct-injection V8 debuts, the quattro all-wheel-drive system has been revised and everything from the suspension to brakes has been refettled for a more enticing driving experience. Sat nav, TV, leather, climate control, cruise, parking sensors and a cranking six-stack CD sound system further justify the price tag.

Under the bonnet

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

The crowning glory of the RS4 is undoubtedly its rev-hungry new V8, which pumps out an astounding 309kW at 7800rpm. At low revs there#8217;s nothing to suggest what#8217;s to come but hold your foot past 5000rpm and the power delivery spikes noticeably, the soundtrack hardens and momentum starts building with serious intensity. It#8217;s not all good news, though.

Our RS4 quaffed nearly 20L/100km during the urban section of our road test loop, enough to drain the 63-litre tank in little over 300km. After a stint of highway cruising our average was a still considerable 13.7L/100km.

How it drives

Rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars

The new quattro all-wheel-drive system forgoes Audi#8217;s traditional 50/50 front/rear split for a new 40/60 set-up, and while you still get brilliant traction in slippery conditions the RS4 has none of the indifference of its predecessors when asked to turn into a corner. Much better balanced, with responsive steering, strong brakes, massive grip and a real sense of poise, it finally delivers the serious thrills that hot Audis have threatened to but never really managed in the past.

Comfort and practicality

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Inside, it#8217;s typical A4 apart from some unique trim, a snazzy flat-bottomed steering wheel and RS sports seats. The latter grip the torso securely, and feature inflatable bolsters for a tighter hold, but make getting in and out a pain and are only manually adjustable. You also get a somewhat restless ride and plenty of tyre noise, but the top A4 retains a sense of compliance and refinement that makes it an entirely agreeable companion on a day-to-day basis.

Audi RS4
Audi RS4
Audi RS4
Audi RS4
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