It’s my belief that for a rounded motoring life a family should run three vehicles: a compact runabout for day-to-day operation; a sporty vehicle for weekend fun runs and a versatile wagon or ute for transporting stuff.
Financially a hard ask? Impossible in a single vehicle? Take a look at the latest version of the Audi RS 4 Avant, not only do you get all of the above for convenience but a modern classic to boot.
Who will own the new RS 4 Avant? Audi says essentially male and female high achievers who are rewarding themselves; sports active trendsetters. Already lining up are swim star Ian Thorpe and celebrity chefs Matt Moran and Shannon Bennett. Hallowed company by any standard.
The Audi RS 4 Avant is priced at $149,400. Options, adding up to $7200, on offer include Dynamic Ride Control which, together with the sport suspension plus, reduces body movements mechanically and, therefore, without lag. The system is combined with variable damper control, which can be switched between three stages.
In addition, Audi drive select has the ability to turn the kitten into a wild cat through the steering, the S tronic transmission, the throttle valves and the exhaust sound flap.
The driver can dial up ‘comfort’, ‘auto’ and ‘dynamic’, and if the car is equipped with an MMI navigation system, a fourth mode, ‘individual’, which can be configured within limits by the driver.
Big brakes all round borrow much from the racetrack, especially in the way they dissipate the heat generated under constant hard treatment. Callipers. painted high-gloss black and bearing RS logos, are made of aluminium. Optional are carbon fibre ceramic discs and six-piston callipers in Anthracite Grey.
With the body 20 mm lower than the volume A4, the RS 4 Avant comes standard with ten-spoke 19-inch aluminium wheels fitted with 265/35 series tyres. Audi offers optional 20-inch wheels in three styles with 265/30 tyres, two featuring a polished titanium look. All tyres have been optimised for rolling resistance without compromising handling or braking.
The already elegant exterior of the RS 4 Avant has been sharpened compared with the A4. Focus of the front is the hexagonal single frame radiator grille, while LED daytime running lights ring xenon-plus headlamps. LEDs are repeated at the rear of the vehicle.
The two large, elliptical tailpipe tips of the dual exhaust system are integrated into the diffuser, which extends upward towards a honeycomb insert. The car’s profile features flared side elements with sharp horizontal upper edges, standing in tribute to the all-wheel drive pioneer, the1980 Audi quattro.
The interior is totally in black unless fitted with optional lunar silver headlining. Carbon inlays are standard, while the top model takes S sport seats in black leather and Alcantara.
Leather trim extends to the multifunction sport steering wheel flattened at the bottom. The shift paddles are in aluminium look. Pedals, air vents, the MMI buttons and many other controls also feature the same finish.
The figures speak for themselves – combined fuel consumption of 10.7 litres per 100 kilometres (responsible runabout); the sprint from zero to 100 kilometres an hour in 4.7 seconds (sports star); and 490 to 1430 litres of cargo room (ute with a roof).
Since its inception 12 years ago with the Audi RS 2 the main focus of the RS Avant has been the powertrain and with the latest incarnation, the third generation RS 4 Avant, things are no different.
Under the bonnet is a high revving naturally aspirated 4.2-litre V8 punching out 331 kW at 8250 rpm, with 430 Nm of torque available between 4000 and 6000 rpm spearing the top-dog Avant from zero to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds on its way to a governed top speed of 250 km/h. This can be increased to 280 km/h on request to Audi.
Mated with a seven-speed S tronic transmission, backed up by launch control which gets the car off the mark with optimal traction at the push of a button.
Power is put to all four wheels via the latest Audi quattro permanent all-wheel drive system with self-locking centre differential which under normal driving conditions sends 60 per of engine torque to the rear wheels. If things become messy up to 85 per cent of the torque can be pushed rearwards, or up to 70 per cent to the front.
On top of this an Audi sport differential is capable of distributing power between the rear wheels so that on a bend it directs the majority of the torque to the outside wheel and pushes the RS 4 Avant into the curve, negating oversteer or understeer.
Steering boost changes with speed, the electric motor in the steering gear consuming no energy when driving straight ahead. This can cut fuel consumption by as much as 0.3 litres per 100 km.
At the Australian launch the RS 4 Avant was put through a series of tests, including slalom and numerous track laps, by the media at the Sydney Motorsport Park at Eastern Creek and on surrounding public roads.
Thanks to the active drivetrain, handling remained neutral, while the electromechanical power steering provided excellent feedback on track and road.
Added to this was an Audi bonus: flaps in each of the two tailpipes of the dual exhaust, at higher loads and engine speeds – or at the push of a button in the Audi drive select system – opened to provide a richer resonant sound.
And with the dynamic Audi drive select mode active the transmission gets the engine to give a great throttle blip on downshifts. Stirring stuff.
At $149,490, dipping significantly from the $170, 000 of the previous model, the new Audi RS 4 Avant adds up to a value package for those wanting versatility with style and sporty performance.
Audi RS4 Avant
Price: from $149,400
Engine: 4.2-litre 8-cylinder, 331kW/430Nm
Transmission: 7-speed S tronic
BMW 335i M Sport Estate
Price: from $112,600
Engine: 3.0-litre 6-cylinder, 225kW/400Nm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic, RWD
Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Estate
Price: from $154,800
Engine: 6.2-litre 8-cylinder, 336kW/600Nm
Transmission: 7-speed automated manual, RWD