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New Audi RS4 Avant aims crosshairs at AMG C 63 S estate

Stuart Gallagher
12 Sep 2017

Twin-turbo V6 and 444bhp for Audi’s new RS4 Avant junior super-estate

Audi’s junior super-estate is back after a shorter than usual tenure off sale. This all-new model, powered by the same 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 engine from the RS5 coupe, made its debut at the Frankfurt motor show and should hit the UK early next year. Priced to compete with the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Estate, the RS4 will cost from £61,625, nearly £2000 cheaper than the V8-powered Mercedes

A stalwart of the junior super estate sector it’s fair to say the RS4 has had an up and down success rate. The original B5 was too heavy of foot and devoid of any real involvement to be considered a great, leading to quattro GmbH (as it was back then) to come out fighting with the B7 successor, the V8-engined wagon defining the sector to become a legend in enthusiast circles. The V8 B8 that followed, while delivering the style, kudos, attitude and performance fell short of replicating its predecessor’s charm and ability. So what now of the fourth generation, turbo-charged RS4 Avant?

> Click here for our Frankfurt motor show roundup and live twitter feed

It’s based on the current A4 platform which provides the new RS4 Avant with a very good starting point, for the standard model and the current S4 are night and day improvements over their predecessors. Ostensibly due to Audi’s weight reduction programme, it has allowed the chassis and dynamics boys and girls to finally nail the A4’s ride and handling. The weight loss – the new car is 80 kilos lighter – has brought an alertness and responsiveness to each model unexpected from Ingolstadt products. The damping is so much cleaner, crisper and better suited, too, that there is more to recommend about an A4 and S4 than its quality, looks and impeccable interior quality. 

Being an RS model the new RS4 Avant’s bodywork is suitably enhanced. Its front and rear arches are 30mm wider and it sits 7mm lower than an S4 thanks to the standard-fit RS sport suspension. There are larger air inlets at the front, too, with an Audi RS trademark honeycomb structure incorporated within the single piece grille. LED Matrix headlights will be optional for the full “get out of my way, I’m an Audi” effect. The rear features a bespoke diffuser, a pair of oval tailpipes for the RS-specific exhaust and there’s a spoiler for the trailing-edge of the roof, too. RS4 traditionalists will be pleased to hear that Nogaro blue paint will also be available. 

Behind that distinctive front end will sit Audi Sport’s latest engine of choice, the 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6, replacing the much loved 4.2-litre V8. Power and torque outputs remain the same as the new RS5, so that’s 444bhp (the same as the old V8) and 422lb ft – a 125lb ft increase over the previous RS4. The gearbox will be the same eight-speed auto as fitted to the RS5, so too the quattro four-wheel drive system. A rear-diff will be an option, as will RS Sport Suspension Plus with Dynamic Ride Control, ceramic brakes and RS-specific dynamic steering. 19-inch wheels will be standard with 20s optional. 

Weighing in at 1790kg the new RS4 Avant is claimed to reach 62mph in 4.1sec and will run to a limited 155mph maximum, unless you opt for the dynamic package, which raises it to 174mph

> Click here for out review of the Mercedes-AMG C 63S

Inside it’s all 21st century Audi with black leather, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and slick-sports seats. A virtual-cockpit will be standard and will feature RS-specific displays that will indicate the G-force you’re pulling, tyre pressures and the torque being used. 

With no estate version of BMW’s M3 or Alfa’s Giulia Quadrifoglio the RS4 Avant’s big challenge will come from the more powerful, rear-wheel drive Mercedes-AMG C63 S estate. With 503bhp and 516lb ft produced by its 4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 we know the AMG doesn’t want for muscle. Its 4.0sec 0-62mph time may only be a tenth quicker than that claimed for the new RS4 Avant, but we already know the C63 S gets there with a thunderous and intoxicating V8 soundtrack. The AMG is 10kg heavier despite having two fewer driven wheels and currently costs £70,325. It’s going to be an intriguing twin-test when we drive them back-to-back at the beginning of 2018.

The last RS4?

On the future of the RS4 and where it sits within Audi Sport’s plans, Winkleman said: “The RS4 Avant - and RS6 Avant - will also be part of Audi Sport. These models, the RS4 in particular is very important to us, it’s perhaps our most recognisable product. It’s the car many of our customers know us for. We will also fight to do these cars.”

With the growth in SUVs and more niche SUVs – including both electric power and performance models – traditional sports saloons and estate cars don’t always have such a certain future. “In some markets we know cars like the RS4 are not volume sellers, but this is the first time we will sell it in China, a market that traditionally doesn’t buy estate cars. But there is a demand for it, just like there is a demand for Audi Sport to produce an SUV, so the new Q8 will offer an Audi Sport model, but not at the cost of there being no RS4 or RS6. These models are too important.

“As with all our cars, not just Audi Sport but Audi AG too, we will have to look at how we can build them to meet any legislation – I’m talking about emissions – without compromising our core principles of what makes an Audi Sport car: Usability, performance and design.”

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