Driven: Audi RS4 – PistonHeads

25 Aug 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Driven: Audi RS4 – PistonHeads
Audi RS4


Big V8, estate body, great noise – welcome back!

The rest of you, listen hard. The RS4 is in many ways a very good car, but it can also be very frustrating.

You know the basic numbers by now . 450hp at 8,250rpm, 317lb ft at 4,000rpm and an empty kerb weight of 1,795kg. Now it would be ridiculous to suggest any 3 Series-sized car with 450hp was lacking guts, but compare the torque-to-weight ratios of this and the previous B7 RS4 and they don’t tell a pretty story for the new car. They share the same 317lb ft – although you waited 1,500rpm longer in the old car – and yet the B7 weighs 80kg less. It’s 177lb ft per tonne versus 186lb ft per tonne.

That is not progress. For the record, a C63 AMG, even without the power-pack, has 442 lb ft.

Who said the drivetrain options are complex!

Nor, for some people, does the deletion of a manual gearbox in favour of a dual-clutch unit with seven forward gears represent an improvement. The chassis is effectively an updated version of the S4’s 4WD system with the clever Sport Differential travelling through lighter aluminium suspension components and some very fancy, optional 20-inch forged wheels.

To these eyes, the RS4 absolutely looks the part – I’m sure it has the showroom battle already won for many people with those blistered arches, that matt chromework and a suggestive shoulder-line. This car does subtle-threatening as well as anything in recent memory. The cabin is standard Audi A4 with extra trimmings and new clock faces – which means in many ways it’s beginning to look and feel a bit dated, some of the plastics are unpleasant, but the RS touches really lift it.

Our car had the standard seats, but buckets are an option. Good to note that the standard chairs go nice and low.

S Tronic only this time round, sadly

The S Tronic transmission is very impressive and, despite missing the manual, I will concede that for most people it will be a welcome addition. Manual shifts are incisive and delivered with a crack from the exhausts. It doesn’t matter if you’re outside or inside, this car sounds the business – and there’s the option of a sports exhaust too.

Audi RS4

The optional Dynamic steering (variable ratio) is probably best avoided. In the heaviest setting it’s dead and requires way too much effort and the way it adjusts the amount of lock required according to speed is sometimes counter-intuitive. I didn’t get to try the standard electro-mechanical steering, but a man I trust said it was better but still incapable of drawing you into the experience.

I want to drive a car on 19-inch wheels and with normal steering ASAP.

RS4 really comes alive when thrashed

Driven to distraction

This leaves the RS4 in a slightly confusing situation. Push very hard and it reminds you that Audi’s RS engineers are willing to de-specify the brand statement understeer, but at sane speeds this car is both lacking in sparkle and low-effort performance. Ride comfort will be marginal in the UK too – even on the softest setting.

It’s a better car than an RS5 though – whose chassis was quietly and successfully updated with these RS4 attributes earlier this year – because it is more practical and therefore will appeal to a wider audience.

Audi RS4
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