Audi RS4 2006 review
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It may not be as big as the Ford and Holden V8s, but it has more than enough poke — 309kW and 430Nm.
Then again, you would want a fair share of herbs and spices given that the RS4 costs $164,500.
It has incredible performance, but the RS4 can also be used as an everyday driver, with four doors, a sizeable boot, and room for five people.
The 4.2-litre engine is a worked version of the five-valve a cylinder V8 used in the S4.
The RS4 engine has four-valves a cylinder, with an injector that takes the place of the fifth valve at the top of each cylinder. It runs direct fuel injection, Audi calls it FSI, for more efficient combustion.
The high-revving engine uses new forged pistons, modified conrods and a revised crank and cylinder heads.
All this mechanical goodness means the RS4 can charge from 0-100km/h in 4.8 seconds.
Figures you don't want to dwell on deal with fuel consumption — the official city/highway cycle figure is 13.7 litres/100km, but the engine really starts to slurp when you push.
Don't even bother looking at the RS4 if you can't use a manual because no automatic is available.
Audi says the RS4 is such a hands-on sportscar, drivers won't mind changing gears themselves.
The manual is a six-speed, hooked-up to a sporty version of Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system.
Previous RS4 models had a 50/50 power split between the front and rear wheels, but many customers want their cars to be a bit more tail happy under power.
So the new RS4 feeds 60 per cent of the grunt to the rear wheels and 40 per cent to the front wheels.
The car also uses the second generation of Audi's Dynamic Ride Control adaptive suspension system.
This hydraulic system is designed to limit body roll and also stop the nose diving or lifting too much under braking and acceleration.
Using this system, the RS4's shock absorbers are linked diagonally with a central valve.
When cornering or diving forces are encountered, the system sends more fluid to the shock absorbers under load to make the car sit as flat as possible.
Handling and stability are improved because the wheels have been pushed out further. The distance between the wheels from side to side (track) has been increased 37mm at the front and 47mm at the rear.
The RS4 runs lightweight 19-inch alloy wheels and sits 30mm lower — adding to its menacing look.
It features traction control and electronic stability control that can be switched off in two stages when the driver is feeling sporty.
Audi has also fitted the RS4 with potent anchors — the front brake calipers have the same number of pistons as the engine.
It has 365mm diameter discs at the front and 324mm discs at the rear, pulled up with single piston swing calipers.
Audi has used a lot of aluminium to keep the RS4's weight down to a respectable 1650kg.
The lightweight metal is used for several suspension components, seat frames, the front quarter panels and the bonnet.
Almost all the RS4's body panels body are unique except for the roof and front doors.
The RS4 runs pumped-out wheel arches, to allow for the wider track and make the car look muscular.
The boot lid is also different, and has a large integrated rear spoiler.
The interior is a mix of leather, carbon-fibre and aluminium.
The RS4 has a flat-bottomed steering wheel with an S button — press it for a sharper throttle response and louder exhaust.
Flaps partially blocking the exhaust lift up and cause this effect.
The button also causes the side bolsters of the special bucket seats to expand, hugging you in the seat.
ON THE ROAD
I stop watching the speedo after it passes 220km/h. I need to look at other things — such as the corner looming at an alarming speed.
I wait as long as possible, then jump on the brake pedal. The eight-pot calipers squeeze the large pizza-size front brake discs and the RS4 squirms as it washes off some of the speed.
It's still not clear if they have slowed this rocket-ship enough for it to enter turn one at Calder Park Raceway with any chance of staying on the tarmac.
The brake pads must be hurting as they pull up 1730kg of car and driver in a hurry.
After changing down to second gear, it's time to throw the super Audi into the turn.
If I could, I would cross my fingers, but both hands are busy on the steering wheel.
The RS4 turns in, all four wheels scrabbling for grip, desperately clinging to the road.
Halfway through the turn it's time to start feeding on the tremendous power on tap to sling the car out of the bend.
The braking and cornering abilities of the RS4 are impressive, but let's not forget what this car is all about — the engine.
The pumped-out guards, meaty 19-inch wheels, wicked seats and spoiler are only window-dressing.
The power and torque figures will impress your mates at the pub, but it's the 8250 rev limit that is the true wonder.
Most V8s would quickly turn into a steaming pile of molten alloy if you tried to push them past 8000 revs, but the bent-eight Audi engine loves it. Not that you have to work it hard.
The 4.2-litre unit has a meaty torque band — 90 per cent of it is on tap from 2250 revs all the way to 7600 revs. This means you can leave it in a higher gear and let the engine pull the car along easily.
Most customers will appreciate the low-down torque of the engine more than its blissful top-end, which you can really only explore on a race track.
There you can use the extra traction of the AWD system to get a good run out of the turn and watch as the tacho flicks up quickly towards the red line.
The trick here is to change up just before the computer steps in to cut the engine's power and prevent its components from parting company in an ugly manner.
Run through a few gears and you will soon be close to warp speed.
The manual gearbox is crisp: not too heavy, not too light.
Its clutch pedal is not as heavy as you would expect for a car with such a stunning reserve of torque.
That means you don't get a sore left ankle if you have to spend much time in stop-start traffic like the rest of Melbourne.
The seats are comfortable and supportive as long as you fit between the scalloped wrap-around edges.
Larger customers can always order the flatter regular S4 seats.
Though the RS4 has been set up to be even sportier than the S4, it is much more comfortable to ride in.
That's not difficult. The S4 has an extremely firm and harsh ride.
The RS4 really can be driven every day in reasonable comfort, but owners would be mad not to hit the track and see what it is designed to do.
Range and Specs
|Quattro||4.2L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$31,990 – 37,950||2006 Audi RS4 2006 Quattro Pricing and Specs|