Audi Sport has upped the drama this time around, and that’s something we welcome entirely. The V6-equipped RS cars need a bit more of a visceral edge, and the sports exhaust system (S$5,898), plus a little new tuning, does that.
There’s also a little surprise on the steering wheel: An RS button that toggles the new RS drive modes.
Clicking that gives you one of two RS drive mode presets, just like the BMW M buttons on the X3 M, for instance.
The Audi Virtual Cockpit also switches to the RS display mode, cueing up a hockey-stick style rev counter (also in the HUD) and performance data.
The RS 4 seems even more eager to burble and pop now, and there’s a new sport shift mode – click the shifter down to ‘S’ and then sideways ‘M’ and there’s a MS mode, which shifts faster, louder, and more violently than plain ‘M’.
It adds a little extra driver engagement to an already thrilling, but accessible package. With 450hp, all-wheel drive and the sport differential to throw you around corners at warp speed, the RS 4 is as fast as its competitors the BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C 63 sedan, but in a very different way.
While it’s louder and a little more violent this time, in RS fashion the RS 4 Avant doesn’t overwhelm the driver. Quattro obviously plays a part in it being less intimidating to drive fast, but the 2.9-litre V6 (same as before) is almost non-turbo like in its linearity, there are no major torque humps to throw things sideways.
The RS 4’s agility is also excellent, the way it changes direction, holds the line, and gives you feedback, it’s almost as maneuverable as its smaller brother, the RS 3. While it’s not as visceral or frightening as the rear-wheel drive V8 beast the C 63, give the average driver the RS 4 and he or she will go faster.
And on the flipside, the RS 4 is very good at normal behaviour too. Not just the Avant space and usefulness, the car does a close impression of the regular A4 too. Besides the sportier suspension setup – which is still more comfortable than some SUVs – it’s downright refined, but don’t count on the same tiny fuel bill, as the RS 4 also lacks the A4’s mild hybrid system.
The RS 4 is unique enough that we don’t see buyers of sedan semi-rivals from BMW M and Mercedes-AMG having a lot of interest in it, but that is sort of the entire point. Who might benefit more from an RS 4 Avant? Someone who would otherwise buy a coupe-SUV or other such monstrosities that are available.
Pair very enjoyable on-road performance with the keenly-judged fixed suspension setup and Avant flexibility, and you have a car that makes performance SUVs, even those with more power, irrelevant. If you can appreciate the nod-wink of a fast Avant rather than the twerk-shake sentiment of a coupe-SUV, then you understand the cult appeal of the RS 4.
|Engine||2,894cc, V6, biturbo|
|Power||450hp at 5700-6700rpm|
|Torque||600Nm at 1900-5000rpm|
|Top Speed||4.1 seconds|
|VES Band / CO2||C2 / 218g/km|
|Price||$404,922 with COE|
|Verdict||The RS 4 Avant isn’t the loudest, fastest, or most dramatic, but its unique appeal and drive continue the cult appeal of Audi RS wagons|