First drive review: Audi RS4 Avant

Audi has sold 7,500 iconic RS models since 1994 and this year sees the return of the ultimate A4. But has this RS4 got the ability to match its name?

What is it?

The third-generation version of the fastest, most iconic A4 which is designed to combine supercar performance, everyday practicality all wrapped in understated bodywork.

What's new?

It's an all-new model. Only available as an estate this time, Audi claim it is an out-and-out sports car, yet at the same time an out-and-out estate. While there's no doubt the Avant styling is elegant, the 490-litre boot isn't the most generous.

Audi RS4 Avant
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First drive review: Audi RS4 Avant

What's under the bonnet?

There's just the one engine – a gem of a naturally aspirated 444bhp 4.2 V8 with FSI high-revving technology. Acceleration to 60mph takes just 4.5 seconds and a barking V8 soundtrack completes the perfect package.

What's the kit like?

Simple and well-equipped. The RS4 has 19-inch alloys, a leather-trimmed flat-bottomed steering wheel, leather/alcantara trim, electrically-operated sports seats, electronic climate control, Bluetooth and sat-nav. It costs £54,925 before you touch the options list.

Any rivals?

Well there's only three, really and they're all formidable opponents. The nearest rival is the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG estate, while if an estate isn't too important to you, there's the BMW M3 saloon and the Lexus IS F saloon.

Is it any good?

It is. The ride is well-judged, although the tyre noise can get tiring on long trips. Steering is generally precise, and the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is slick, but is at its best in manual mode. Quattro four-wheel drive means plenty of grip and there's virtually no body roll either.

The Autoblog verdict

The latest RS4 gets better and better the harder it is driven. It looks great too, with the blistered arches, front bumper with enlarged air intakes and the mesh grilles. Where the Audi falls down, is that rivals offer a more involving driving experience.

The knowledge:
Model: Audi RS4
Price: £54,925
Engine: 4.2-litre V8 FSI petrol
Power: 444bhp, 430Nm
Max speed: 155mph/174mph with limiter removed
0-60mph: 4.5s
MPG (comb'd): 26.4
Emissions: 249g/km
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