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Audi RS4 2006 review


Then, of course, you've got Audi: simply, nobody makes a better "Q" car than Audi. Turning out a wolf in sheep's clothing is their speciality, and in the RS4 there is yet another snapping, snarling beastie out there masquerading as its domesticated A4 cousin.

There are clues to the RS4's true character, but you have to be sharp to spot them on the run: a cluster of exhaust pipes poking out from under the rear, flaring of the wheel arches to fit the low-profile 19-inch rubber, a more aggressive stance and a couple of discreet RS badges. That's it. In all its understated glory, the RS4 can sit quietly and invisibly in traffic — until you say go.

Then you'd best hang on because this is the creme de la creme of usable four-door sports sedans. The 4.2-litre V8 is simply brilliant. Redlined for tootling at 7000rpm, the engine unleashes its full feral nature with the traction control switched off ... then it will run to a full-noise 8250rpm to get the maximum from the available 309kW and 430Nm. That torque, peaking at 5500rpm, delivers 90per cent of its urge in a band that stretches a ridiculous slice of the tacho from 2250 to 7600rpm.

Getting the drive to the wheels is Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system and a slick six-speed manual gearbox that moves with almost intuitive precision.

As befits a driver's car, the torque split through the signature Torsen differential is biased to the rear wheels on a 60:40 basis.

The suspension is aluminium (for weight reduction), with multiple links front and rear.

A stand-out feature of the RS4 are the brakes: a set of eight pot calipers grip massive front discs leveraged straight from the Lamborghini garage. Stomp the pedal and the RS4 dips its nose, grips the tarmac and bleeds off speed at a prodigious rate — time after time after time. Fade is not in its vocabulary.

With incredible reserves of grip and balance, the RS4 bears watching as it can easily sneak into loss-of-licence territory without ever feeling like it.

One of the truly great things about the RS4 — and other similar models that have gone before — is that it is almost as happy bubbling around town in traffic.

The RS4 is loaded with luxury and safety in typical Audi fashion. There is a full set of airbags, cruise control, zone airconditioning, satellite navigation and brilliantly supportive leather sports seats.

Rather perversely, those same seats are one of the biggest annoyances in the car. So pronounced is the bolstering that getting out can be something of a struggle.

Fuel consumption can also sneak up on you, particularly if you are seduced by the S button on the steering wheel.

Engaging the S button brings a couple of advantages — sharpening the throttle control, beefing up the exhaust note by opening a set of baffles and giving the driver a cuddle as the seats side bolsters close in for extra grip.

At $164,500 the RS4 is no snip and you really have to want one. However, with four doors and a usable boot, you could at least mount a convincing argument that this could be your daily drive — please.

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Quattro 4.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $29,810 – 35,860 2006 Audi RS4 2006 Quattro Pricing and Specs
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