Some cars beg to be driven on a race track. Audi's mind bogglingly good RS4 Avant is one of them. The 331kW wagon, yes it's a wagon sounds fantastic and goes extemely well, even if it does cost an arm and a leg. But then, you can't expect something for nothing, especially something as good as this?
The original built in 1994 but not sold here was powered by a 2.2-litre turbocharged five cylinder engine. It was assembled at Porsche's Rossle-Bau plant in Zuffenhausen, with plenty of input from Porsche and could do the dash from 0-100km/h in 4.6 seconds, with a top speed of 262km/h.
It was followed in 2000 by a 2.7-litre Bi-Turbo that pumped out 279kW and was good for 4.9 seconds, with some help this time from Cosworth in the UK. Both of these earlier models were available only as a wagon.
Then in 2005 the switch was made to a V8 and the decision made to diversify the model with the addition of a sedan and cabrio. The high revving naturally asipirated 4.2-litre V8 produiced 309kW of power and 430Nm of troque, revving all the way to 8000rpm, with 0-100km/h taking 4.8 seconds.
The current RS4 Avant raises the bar yet again, delivering 331kW of power and 430Nm of torque in combination with a 7-speed double clutch style transmission and Quattro all-wheel drive. Unlike its predecessors, which came in manual form only, this one's an auto or at least a robotised manual.
A good thing too because the DSG box takes all the hard work out of the equation, allowing the driver to get on with the job of well, driving. The result is a car that is happy to handle the shopping or if required launch from 0-100km/h in a rapid fire 4.7 seconds, not as quick as the original but still plenty of fun.
It's always intimidating to get behind the wheel of one of these cars, especially in the context of a race track. Here there are no limits on how fast you can go, apart from your own ability and of course the physical limitations of the car. The car's limits are very high (not sure about our ability though).
We were among the first group of drivers to take on the challenging circuit at Sydney Motorsport Park, known to most as Eastern Creek. Tentative at first, by the fourth lap we were starting to feel right at home, discovering that the RS4 is as awesome as it is forgiving.
In fact, it's so well balanced that we were able to guide the car around the second left hander, a double apex corner, with the car in full slide and only one hand on the wheel. How good's that?
Amazingly, the new RS4 Avant is cheaper than the old one at $149,400. The previous one which disappeared in 2008 cost $168,100, but is still sought after, changing hands for more than $100,000.
Even at this price there are still plenty of options including adjustable suspension. It can be bundled with 20 inch wheels and a sports exhaust for $7200 and there are not many buyers who won't tick that box. RS4's main competitor is the Benz C63 AMG wagon which will set you back $155,900, before options.
If they weren't so damn expensive. $150K is a lot of dough in anyone's language, but if you've got it you certainly won't be disappointed. The RS4 Avant combines the practicality of a wagon, with the performance of a sports car and a reputation that will be the envy of all your mates.
Audi RS4 Avant
Price: from $149,400
Engine: 4.2-litre V8 petrol; 331W/430Nm
Transmision: 7-speed twin clutch auto; 4WD