Audi RS 4 Avant – A Storm Starter
Speed thrills and speed kills! It’s been drilled into us since adolescence, as we age our way towards getting that license to freedom. Nevertheless, we still flirt with the limit now and then. I suppose it’s the Neanderthal in all of us that gets an adrenaline rush seeing the Speedo crossing sensible speeds.
Auto engineers with an affinity of living on the dark side don’t make it easy to curb the addiction either. While their more responsible counterparts design practical vehicles for the DIY man, these hooligans pump them full of steroids resulting in a testosterone overload.
Each continent has a derivative of these quirky cars:
The Australians have their V8 powered Ute’s – HSV Maloo & Ford Falcon FP6 so forth. The Japs had more of a pocket rocket that inspired the endless sequels of Fast and Furious full of Nissan Skyline GT-R to Toyota Supras and Mitsui’s Evo and rotary engine driven Mazda RX series.
The Yanks have their muscle trucks, though GMC had Typhoon long before BMW ever had thought of X5 and then sticking that M badge on the fender, same is the case with Ford F-150 Lightning pickup. But those were the flashback from the bygone era. Today, the Dodge Ram SRT being an excellent example, it had an 8.4 Litre engine from the infamous Viper or the UAE favorite Ford Raptor.
In fairness, Mercedes had AMG badge E-Class station wagons but Audi led the pack for the Europeans in the 80’s and with a little help from Porsche gave us the quintessential super car + estate cocktail. The Audi RS2 being the first and the same formula regurgitated till date to give us this 3RD Generation Audi RS4.
“A Sports Car for Everyday use” They Say… 9.5/ 10
The car is based on the B8 platform Audi A4 that has been around from 2008. A facelift was applied in 2012 with minor tweaks to the electronics and the exterior. Audi also took the opportunity to launch the premiere RS4. Although RS4’s of yesteryears have had sedan and convertibles versions, the current RS4 is only available as an Avant.
As with any performance-orientated car, the engine is what dominates your senses. Resonating at colder temperatures it settles into rhythmic lumpy idle on start-up. The 4.2 V8 FSI engine develops 450 hp at 8,250 rpm with 430 Nm of torque available between 4,000 and 6,000 rpm. Nothing beats the aural experience of an unadulterated naturally aspirated V8. You can bring a storm on the highway. On kick down the torque pins you back into leather Recaros and the relentless acceleration doesn’t stop until you get to the redline. 0-100km/h is dispensed in less than 5 seconds. All through the episode, your ears are treated to the Bassy exhaust note which is ever so slightly interrupted by lovely parps from the gear changes.
Every now and then, day or night, here in Dubai nature forces down all sorts of storms: blinding sand storms to coughing dust storms. Secretly, I now know how to make one: Blip the throttle hear the thunder clap from four-two V8, followed by the lightning speed and there you see in your rearview mirror leaving behind a trail of storm! – Sami Siddiqui
Which brings me onto the standard Dual Clutch seven-speed S-Tronic gearbox. Such is the brutal efficiency of these new Dual Clutch systems even manual aficionados like myself have begun to question our views. It really is the best of both worlds; rev matching on down shifts when you’re in the mood for some fun and docile just gliding around city traffic. With its long top gear, unrestricted, you can rocket all the way to 280 km/h. Audi claims this is available as a factory option. Otherwise, 250 km/h is what you have to be content with. All that power is transmitted to the road via Audi’s permanent 4-wheel drive ‘quattro’ system. Our car also had the optional sport differential, which actively distributes the power between the rear wheels.
The ‘Audi Drive Select’ console governs the driving experience of the RS4. Every characteristic related to the Engine Accelerator, electro mechanical steering feel, Suspension Damping, Differential settings and variable exhaust flaps are selectable via the touch of a button. You have the standard Auto, Comfort and Dynamic modes or the independently configurable ‘Individual’ Mode. We found the suspension too jarring in Dynamic Mode, skipping from the surface to surface. Unless you have a Chiropractor a phone call away, the track is the only place we would recommend that. In Auto, however, the damping is perfect, the car feels taut as it tightens up a notch when you attack corners and highway exits. Very complacent most of the time even though our tester had the optional; 20” V spoke Alloys. Eight and four piston calipers front & rear respectively dust off speed with efficiency.
That Sharp Look – 8/ 10
The design of the new Audi RS 4 Avant also expresses its dynamic nature. The wedge shaped headlights have xenon plus distinctive Audi Daytime running lights. Same story in the rear with LED’s dominating the big tail.
Our tester had the Audi Exclusive treatment, a head turning combination, Java Green exterior paint with lunar silver leather. The alloys were also given a posh Titanium coating. The interior fit and finish is also typical Audi, which is a good thing. The leather multifunction sport steering wheel is flattened at the bottom and subtle RS badges are placed to remind you of the RS 4’s pedigree. Luggage capacity ranges between 490 and 1,430 liters, depending on the position of the rear seatbacks.
The RS 4 impressed with its crisp MMI displays and 3D navigation. Everything ergonomically placed as the car shrinks around you for maximum pleasure just like a bespoke stitched suit. A Bang & Olufsen was also ticked in the options box but I was too busy listening to induction and exhaust noises to bother.
Verdict – 9/ 10
There is a list of cars: sedans to coupes and even SUVs that either falls in the same performance bracket or with-in the price range, but none have the sure-footedness packaged with practicality and versatility of the RS 4. The RS 4 Avant is priced between 290k – 320k depending on options. However, the launch control comes standard!
Come to think of it, even the naturally aspirated 4.2 V8 power-plant has almost reached at the end of the rainbow. Soon, perhaps at the time of writing naturally aspirated engines will be considered as modern-classics! The end of an era as manufacturers are pushing forward to adopt cleaner more efficient ways of extracting power, distilling the experience by adding a forced-induction in the form of turbo or supercharger. The current RS 4 Avant is a future classic in my book just like previous generations have proven to be.
Thanks to racer boy Naveed Mushtaq for contributing this review.