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Audi RS4


Audi A6

Summary

Audi RS4

Think about the word ‘functional'. You might notice that there are three letters at the start of the word that people don't often associate with station wagons. That's not the case for the 2018 Audi RS 4.

This isn't your everyday station wagon. It's a hyperbole-generating monster - a family-friendly estate with a licence to punish. Audi goes as far as to suggest that it offers "supercar performance and everyday practicality".

And why wouldn't it? With a bolshie engine, all-wheel drive and more grunt than a pair of conjoined twin hot-hatches, it's a model that has little to prove... especially to those people who appreciate what those precious first three letters can do to improve a drab drive in city traffic.

But there's something that can't be understated about this new-generation RS 4: it isn't like the model that came before it. There's no V8 engine under that shapely bonnet, because of the  the new RS 4 isn't like the old one. The V8 is gone... and yes, when I first read that Audi had done the unthinkable and pulled the bahnstorming eight-cylinder screamer in favour of a downsized twin-turbo six I was shocked and horrified.

Without its star attraction, could it still be fun? I don't want to spoil the story, so be sure to read on to find out...

Safety rating
Engine Type4.2L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency10.7L/100km
Seating5 seats

Audi A6

Audi gamely continues to sell their 5 Series competitor, the A6. The high-rider A6 Allroad takes most of the attention, but if you keep an eye out, you'll see an A6 sedan every now and again.

Look even closer – really close – and you'll see that there's been a recent upgrade.

Safety rating
Engine Type1.8L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency5.7L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Audi RS48.3/10

There is no doubting that the all-new Audi RS 4 is a pragmatic option, probably more so now than ever before. It does the dual-personality thing better than the model that came before it, and perhaps better than anything else at this price point, too.

If you want a practical family wagon that just also happens to be punishingly fast, and you have the budget to consider something like the new Audi RS 4, it should be on your shopping list. And probably towards the top, too.

Are you a fan of fast station wagons? Let us know in the comments section below.


Audi A67.2/10

In many ways, the A6 1.8 is the very epitome of the Audi experience - quiet, composed and very stylish, it doesn't shout about itself. It's hardly a big seller but it does give those who wish for a big executive sedan from Ingolstadt everything they could need.

Would an A6 tempt you away from a 520i? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Click here for more 2016 Audi A6 1.8 TFSI price and spec info

Design

Audi RS49/10

If you like wagons, you'll totally get it. If you're a hater, or even ambivalent, then you'll probably still get it.

Admittedly it could look even more aggressive, but it has to balance practicality with pouncing killy animal aggression. Even so, I think there's a lot to like here, from the squared-off front and rear quarter panels, the broad (even broader than the regular A4 range, in fact) 'single-frame' grille, and the bejewelled looking LED headlights.

It looks even better from behind, with the broad rear haunches really hunkering it down, and the wide tail-lights and sneaky little fake vents on the side adding extra back-end bulk. Note: the rear light-edge vents may be fake, but the front ones actually work to channel air to cool the brakes.

There are 20-inch wheels in a few different designs, but my personal choice would be the milled aluminium single-piece ones you see on the blue car in these images. They're gorgeous, even if they cost more. And I couldn't not have the signature Nogaro Blue Pearl, which was the same colour as the RS 2 wagon that started the hot wagon thing for Audi... again, at a high price.

Thankfully, I wouldn't need to spend an extra cent inside, because the interior is lush. There are all the typically Audi finishes - it's a high-end and luxurious environment, but with lashings of sporty elements that help it feel almost like a leather tracksuit. Take a look at the pictures of the interior to make up your own mind.

Compared with, say, a regular A4 Avant, the RS 4 Avant is bigger in every way except height. It measures 4781mm long (up 56mm), 1886mm wide (up 44mm) and 1404mm tall (down 30mm). It's quite heavy, too, weighing in at 1800kg, which is about 150kg more than the entry-level wagon.

As good as it looks, I just can't help but think maybe it could have been even more aggressive. The last model certainly had muscle and more macho with its even more angular guards. But maybe the world has moved on a bit, and I'm just not ready for it.


Audi A67/10

The A6 is one of Audi's subtlest pieces. It's a fine looking car but it doesn't really stand out in this base-spec, which is of course perfectly fine if that's what you're after.

Rolling on 18-inch alloys, it's a classy-looking thing, with Audi's trademark design language of creased sheetmetal, prominent front grille and distinctive daytime running lights. The new twin LED DRLs are more distinctive still, marking out the A6 from the rest of the range.

Inside is also very standard Audi, with a clean dashboard design and a screen that disappears into the depths of the dash when you lock up or if you want it out of the way.

Inside there's tons of room and it's a very comfortable cabin to spend time in. The driver gets plenty of adjustment and you sit reasonably low, snug between door and high-set console. The dashboard is the usual model of clarity although the optimistic speedo raised a few smiles. Despite it being tightly packed, it doesn't matter as the updated central screen can show a digital speed readout.

Practicality

Audi RS48/10

This generation of Audi A4, S4 and RS 4 models really puts the flame to the competition in terms of user-friendliness, high-tech execution and style... if not 100 per cent nailing the "wow" factor.

Don't get me wrong, it's still a very, very pleasant place to be. Typically Teutonic, typecast technical Audi, but with some sporty flourishes. The hard-backed sport bucket seats up front offer a great amount of adjustment (though the driver's seat base is a little too high), and depending on what interior trim you opt for, you may see aluminium or carbon finishes throughout.

The quilted leather is lovely, and the materials are all superb - so is the fit and finish. One of the cars I drove had an optional pack with Alcantara trim, with that material covering the shifter and steering wheel - the latter of which I love, because it's smooth yet grippy. I'm not so sold on manual steering adjustment for a car at this price point, however.

With the Audi Virtual Cockpit digital screen spreading 12.3-inches in front of the driver, there's no shortage of info to choose from. It's been around a few years now, but I still love the look of Google Maps in front of me.

There's also Audi's MMI touch system, a rotary dial with a touchpad on top that is pretty simple to use, and it links up to a high-resolution 8.3-inch screen on the dash top. All the connectivity stuff you'd expect is included - Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth phone and audio, DAB+ digital radio, and an inbuilt hard-drive for your own music storage. You won't be left wanting for entertainment.

There are reasonably good sized cup holders up front, a covered centre console, some loose-item storage areas and adequate bottle holders in all four doors. The back seat has mesh map pockets (set on hard plastic seatbacks - good for limited damage to fabric if you have children who like to kick the seat) and a flip-down armrest with cupholders.

Space in the rear is easily good enough for a six-foot (183cm) tall adult like myself to slot behind someone of the same size, with ample kneeroom, good toe room and enough headroom to ensure no hairs were out of place. The width is surprisingly decent, too.

There are dual ISOFIX child-seat anchor points, and three top-tether attachments as well. And parents (and children alike) will appreciate the rear air vents, and three-zone climate control system that allows a seperate temperature in the back.

The boot is a good size, with 505 litres of capacity up to the multifunctional luggage cover (which includes an integrated mesh cargo barrier and operates electronically in conjunction with the boot lid). It also has a reversible floor section - carpet one side, plastic on the other - perfect for tying down wet clothes (using the included mesh elasticated web net) or even performing potentially messy nappy changes. The boot expands to 1510L with the seats down.


Price and features

Audi RS48/10

The new twin-turbo V6 model is priced at $152,900 plus on-road costs, which represents a slight hike over its V8-powered predecessor, but Audi claims to have added $22,000 of extra equipment.

Standard inclusions offered in the RS4 consist of 20-inch alloy wheels, red RS brake calipers, an adjustable sports exhaust system, Audi's sport differential, adaptive sports suspension, LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, adaptive rear LED indicators and tinted rear windows with acoustic front glass.

Standard interior kit includes Audi's 'Virtual Cockpit' 12.3-inch driver info screen with configurable RS display mode, an 8.3-inch tablet media screen with sat nav, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone mirroring, DAB+ digital radio, and a stonking 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen stereo system.

The front sports seats with Nappa leather trim and honeycomb quilting (which apparently mirrors the design of the grille mesh) also feature bolster adjustment, massage function, memory settings for the driver's seat and electric adjustment and heating for both sides. There is an ambient-lighting system with 30 different colour options, too.

A panoramic sunroof is fitted as standard, but for hot areas of the country it can be deleted if the buyer so chooses. Smart key entry and push-button start is standard, and there's an auto tailgate with gesture control.

Even though that list is long, there are still option boxes you can choose to tick. Things like the carbon and black styling pack ($11,900), the 'Technik Pack' (with head-up display, Matrix LED headlights, wireless phone charging - $3900) and other style-focused extras like the 20-inch milled aluminium wheels ($1600). There are several colour options to choose, including the Misano Red pearl finish ($1846), or the brilliant 'Nogaro Blue Pearl' ($5450)... but not all the colours cost money, with a selection available at no cost.

See below for the extensive safety kit list - because it's hugely lengthy!

As for where the competitors sit, the Mercedes-AMG C63 S wagon lists a little higher, at $159,711 plus on-roads. There's no BMW M3 wagon, but the sedan version is $141,610 plus costs... and it's the only one with manual or auto to choose from. There's no Lexus, Infiniti or Volvo equivalent model. But I guess you could consider the S4 a good alternative at $50,000 less, and it's available as a sedan or a wagon...


Audi A67/10

At $80,990, the 1.8 is the entry-level, front-wheel drive model and comes in $500 dearer than the rear-drive BMW 520i.

Standard is cruise control, parking sensors front and rear with reversing camerablind spot sensor and rear sensor for cross traffic, xenon headlights, keyless entry and start, climate control, electric front seats, leather trim, DAB radio and satnav.

There's a tremendously lengthy options list but as is the Audi custom, you can get the greatest hits in a couple of packages. Our test car had the Technik package ($5800) which added park assist, around-view camera, adaptive cruise with stop and go, autonomous emergency braking and four-zone climate control.

It also adds Audi Connect, which puts Google Earth overlays on the sat-nav maps, lets you search Google for points of interest and act as a wifi hotspot in the car (which needs its own SIM card; it doesn't like most smartphones).

 


Metallic paint is a supremely cheeky $2280 bringing our test car to $87,980.

The ten speaker stereo has the usual bluetooth and USB ports and is run from an 8.0-inch motorised retractable screen. Audi's MMI controls the show and there's the added bonus of DAB to go with it. The A6 actually has two USB ports, with a high-power port for faster phone charging. The big news is this upgraded A6 doesn't need the silly proprietary cable that the A4 still needs.

The MMI interface is very good and has gotten better and better over the years as Audi's designers have played with the mix of rotary and shortcut buttons.

Engine & trans

Audi RS49/10

This isn't the first time the Audi RS 4 has had a twin-turbo V6 engine under its bonnet. Back in 2000, the very first RS 4 launched with a 2.7-litre biturbo engine.

This all-new model has a 2.9-litre twin-turbo unit, which shares much with the Audi S4 and S5 models (they run a 3.0-litre turbo - the engine in the RS 4 is a smaller capacity and has a shorter stroke, but adds a turbo over the lesser S models).

It's no V8, however. The most recent model before this one had a 4.2-litre naturally aspirated unit with 331kW of power and 430Nm of torque.

This new version carries over the same power output - 331kW - but it hits between 5700-6700rpm, not at 8250rpm like the old V8. And torque has seen a substantial kick up the behind, now rated at 600Nm.

Not only has torque increased by about 45 per cent, it's also across a broader rev range - now it spans 1900-5000rpm, where it was not only lower but shorter-lived and less usable in the V8 (4000-6000rpm).

And the all important 0-100km/h time? It's now at 4.1 seconds, where it used to be 4.7sec. The top speed remains identical - 250km/h.

What about the sound, though? Read the driving section below... or better yet, watch the video!


Audi A67/10

Behind the A6's mildly modified snout is the 1.8-litre TFSI mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Basically, it's the same setup as some A3s and A4s. In the A6, it produces 140kW and 320Nm.

At 1645kg, you'd imagine fairly weedy performance but a 0-100km/h time of 7.9 seconds says otherwise. Fuel economy is a claimed 5.7L/100km on the combined cycle, but expect somewhere around 8.0L/100km in the real world. Which is still reasonable going for a petrol-powered car this big.

Fuel consumption

Audi RS48/10

Fuel consumption for the 2018 Audi RS 4 is rated at 8.9 litres per 100 kilometres, which is fairly good for a vehicle with this much propulsion potential. CO2 emissions are rated at 202g/km.

Both of those are big improvements over the V8 that preceded it - the claimed consumption was 10.7L/100km and emissions were 249g/km.

But it's worth noting that Mercedes-AMG has the C63 wagon with a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 that has more power (375kW) and torque (700Nm) yet uses less fuel (8.7L/100km).


Driving

Audi RS48/10

It only took three corners for me to feel 100 per cent comfortable with the controls of the Audi RS 4. Some cars may take a few minutes before you become accustomed to how the throttle, brakes and steering want to be used, but it was mere seconds in this case.

That's because of the outright predictability of the RS 4 - it's hard to set a foot wrong, with excellent throttle response, strong but progressive braking, and better steering than I've experience in any Audi outside of the R8. It's not perfect - there's still a little bit of deadness or stickiness on centre - but I like the way it helps you pivot the car and apply lock at pace, thanks to nice weighting and resistance. The steering is light when you want it, and hefty when you need it.

The adaptive dampers and 20-inch wheels can't totally divorce the road surface from the bodies of the occupants in the cabin, and over patchy surfaces the ride can be a little pitchy, even in the Comfort setting.

But those dampers help stiffen the chassis up in Sport mode, negating body roll brilliantly. That, combined with the traction of the excellent quattro all-wheel drive system with a self-locking centre differential, and the grip of the Continental tyres makes for a really enjoyable way to cut through a series of corners.

Of course there are electronic helpers underneath, including a torque-vectoring-by-braking system and torque-splitting rear differential that pushes load to where it's needed most - but unless you had a screen in front of you telling when they were being used you wouldn't know. It all just feels really natural in the way it handles itself.

Now, that engine.

No, it isn't a V8, but what it is is a powerhouse weapon. It's still rev-happy, and the transmission allows it to be that way: in Dynamic mode with the shifter in S (not D) there is a brilliant willingness to the way it hangs on to gears - through a series of sweeping corners, getting on and off the throttle and brake pedal respectively, it had incredible intuition - third gear was the most usable, and gave the most, too.

The engine's sound isn't as visceral as the V8 of its predecessor, but it isn't what I'd call dull. There's a nice bit of chortle on the overrun, and it sounds pretty menacing when you punch the go pedal.

In normal driving, too, it's well suited to regular duties. It just so happens that its great at going fast, which is what you want from an RS model.


Audi A67/10

Settling in behind the wheel of a big car with a small engine, even by today's standards, rarely promises much. The A6 is a relaxed kind of car to punt around, especially in Eco and Comfort modes.

The steering is quite remote, with artificial-feeling weight when you pile on some speed.

The idea, it seems, is to isolate occupants from the outside world and this is very successful. The ride is supple and the handling competent with mild, controlled body roll and a natural tendency to eventual understeer.

The seven-speed dual-clutch is perhaps not the the most obvious choice and seemed a little unsettled when you ask for a rapid clutch take-up from standstill. BMW's choice of eight-speed ZF auto would have been preferable, but it's no deal breaker.

Rear passengers have plenty of space to lounge around and it's also very quiet back there. Acres of shoulder and leg room give a good feeling of space and it almost feels as good as an A8.

Safety

Audi RS49/10

There is no model-specific Audi RS 4 Avant crash-test rating, but the Audi A4 (four-cylinder) range managed the maximum five-star EuroNCAP / ANCAP test score in 2015.

Rest assured, though, the RS 4 has a lot of standard equipment.

The standard safety equipment list includes Audi's pre-sense front system with auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection (which works up to 85km/h), plus a 360-degree camera with reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors. Plus the traffic-jam assist system, which debuted in 2015 on the Q7 and uses two radars to read the road ahead - even scanning in front of the car directly in front of you.

There's active lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, turn assist (which will stop you from driving through an intersection if the car doesn't think you'll make it), auto high-beam lights, rear cross-traffic alert (with audible, visual and physical notification - it can jolt the brakes if you aren't paying attention), multi-collision braking (which will stop the car if you have an accident to prevent further mishap).

There's also Audi's clever "exit warning system" that will flash the ambient lights if an occupant is about to open their door into the path of oncoming cars or cyclists.

The RS 4 has eight airbags (dual front, front side, rear side and full-length curtains).


Audi A68/10

Eight airbags, ABS, traction and stability control, blind spot sensor and rear collision sensor are all standard, while the Technik package adds autonomous emergency braking.

The A6 has a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

Ownership

Audi RS47/10

Audi covers all of its models with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty plan, which, by market standards is starting to look a little low, but in the premium part of the market, not many brands do much better.

As for servicing costs, it's a bit of a guessing game. The entire RS model range, as well as the R8 supercar, isn't covered by the same Audi Genuine Care pre-purchase setup you can get on a regular (non RS) model. That plan covers three years/45,000km of maintenance, and in the case of the A4/S4, the cost is $1620. Expect more than that for the RS 4.