- Powered by a potent 2.9-litre 450PS petrol engine that fires the car from 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds
- Dynamic styling with a soundtrack to match
- All the handling capabilities associated with the Audi RS badge
- Expensive especially with optional extras taken into account
- Stiff opposition from Mercedes AMG C63 Estate
- Watch your speed – acceleration to national speed limits is effortlessly fast
Think estate cars and it instantly conjures up images of rather sensible load-luggers that are practical but generally quite boring when it comes to performance. The Audi RS 4 Avant is an exception to that rule in every aspect. Yes, it is billed as an estate car, but it delivers outrageous driving dynamics with a 0-62mph sprint time of just 4.1 seconds and a top speed limited to 155mph.
There are two models to choose from – the standard car (which is anything but standard) priced at £62,175 and a Carbon Edition carrying a £72,175 price-tag.
The Audi RS 4 Avant has quite a road presence and is an attention-grabber thanks to its distinctive RS body styling, including flared front and rear wheel arches, a honeycomb design grille with quattro logo in matt black, a front bumper with enlarged air inlets, black front spoiler, lateral air inlets next to the headlights, side sill extensions, an RS roof spoiler, 20-inch forged alloy silver wheels, red brake calipers, LED headlights and rear lights with sweeping rear indicators. A panoramic glass sunroof and an RS sport exhaust system complete the look.
On The Road
We tested the Audi RS 4 Avant 2.9 TFSI quattro model with a whopping 450PS at its disposal. It was mated to an eight-speed tiptronic gearbox and began life costing £62,175. A long list of optional extras saw that price jump to £77,720.
This car can hit the 62mph mark from a standing start in a rapid 4.1 seconds and maxes out at a limited 155mph. That upper-limit restriction can be increased to 174mph if a Performance Pack costing £1,450 is added.
The car also has 600Nm of torque at its disposal and when you factor in the launch control, the RS 4 Avant is the fastest mid-sized estate car on the planet.
This is definitely a car with split personalities. It can behave quite responsibly when necessary and delivers a quiet, yet controlled driving encounter. But when faced with the open road and with its full power potential unleashed, the extra 40 per cent of torque compared to the outgoing V8 model it replaces is very apparent. It’s fast, furious and full of firepower. But even when thrown into bends at pace, you never feel like the car is out of control – it grips the road at silly speeds and there is plenty of driver feedback through the steering.
The latest RS 4 Avant has shed some pounds and that helps improve its balance, dynamism and all-round performance. The driver can switch through driving modes called Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual and they alter the car’s responses significantly.
In Comfort mode, the car is almost grown up in its behaviour and it’s certainly the right selection if tackling bumpy roads as the suspension helps to iron out the creases.
On the opposite end of the scale is Dynamic. Suddenly the car seems to develop some real attitude like a wild animal has been unleashed at feeding time. The exhaust develops a roaring snap, crackle and pop sound and all the steering, throttle, braking and gear switches are that much sharper in their responses.
I would have to say that most of the day-to-day driving will be completed in Comfort, but when the little red devil appears on your shoulder, it’s great to know that Dynamic mode is at your disposal.
The eight-speed tiptronic gearbox is perfectly timed and has a rapid shift pattern. Yet, if you fancy taking over at the reins there are steering wheel paddles to add a little more thrill to the mix.
The interior of the RS 4 Avant is premium quality at every turn with a wealth of on-board technology to explore. Once again, the car displays it athletic characteristics thanks to super sports seats decked in the finest Nappa leather upholstery with beautiful honeycomb stitching. These seats can be electrically adjusted and heated.
Elsewhere the cockpit is designed with a focus on the driver. The test car featured Audi’s virtual cockpit digital instrument cluster with 12.3-inch TFT high resolution display and RS menu – this can be altered to highlight different systems such as the sat nav, music, phone or performance stats.
There is an 8.3-inch colour touchscreen with sat nav and Audi Connect services, a pitch perfect Bang & Olufsen sound system, head-up display, 3-spoke flat-bottomed sport steering wheel with aluminium-look gear shift paddles. And just in case you should forget, there is plenty of RS badging that acts as a not so subtle reminder that the car you are sitting in is quite special.
Cabin refinement really depends on what driving mode the car is set to. In Comfort, the cabin is superbly insulated against outside noise with little engine, road surface or wind noise filtering through. Switch to Dynamic and the world becomes a much louder place to live with. The sound of the engine accelerating and decelerating is accompanied by a loud soundtrack that wouldn’t be out of place in the F1 paddocks.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
There is plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustment within the Audi RS 4 Avant so it’s easy to get a comfortable driving position. All dials and readouts are perfectly positioned for driver usability and the displays on the virtual cockpit instrument cluster are easy to alter on the fly via the steering wheel controls. The chunky grab-handle gear stick is a nice feature too.
Audi has always developed good-looking interiors and this is no exception with soft Nappa leather upholstery, some smart aluminium trim and plenty of quality soft-touch surfaces. The three-spoke, flat-bottomed steering wheel is the perfect match for such a high-performance car and there is a reminder of the RS heritage with badging throughout.
The infotainment system is smart, intuitive and one of the best on offer with lots of shortcut keys and Audi’s traditional rotary dial to scroll through the menu options. The Bang & Olufsen sound system is pitch perfect and the panoramic sunroof lets light flood into the cabin area.
Despite being fitted with sports seats, there will be no need to have a chiropractor on speed dial as they offer adjustable lumbar support with a massage function.
Space & Practicality
With estate car billing, the RS 4 Avant needs to deliver when it comes to practicality and it does. There is ample space within the car for four adults to travel in comfort, although anyone topping the six-foot marker will find their head touching the roof-lining. There is space for a third passenger in the back, but they will experience slightly limited foot room due to the raised central tunnel.
A powered tailgate reveals a boot with a capacity of 505 litres. The low lip and wide opening makes loading awkwardly-shaped or heavy items much easier and the full capacity can be increased to a very generous 1,510 litres with the split-folding 40:20:40 seats dropped flat.
Lowering the rear seats is an easy operation. You simply pull the levers near the boot opening and the rear seats drop automatically.
Elsewhere, there is a glovebox, a covered central bin, cup holders and door pockets to store away goodies.
The test car was priced at £62,175, although a list of optional extras that spanned half a sheet of A4 paper took the final costs up to £77,720. This may seem quite expensive, but the RS 4 Avant has just one true rival in the shape of the Mercedes AMG C63 and that carries a similar pricing strategy.
According to official figures, the test car could deliver combined fuel economy of 32.1mpg with a carbon emissions figure of 200g/km. This CO2 figure was increased by 1g/km because the car was fitted with 20-inch rather than 19-inch wheels.
That would result in a Vehicle Excise Duty cost of £1,200 for the first year which would be reduced to £140 after that. The car would also fall into the highest 37 percent Benefit in Kind bracket.
Quality & Reliability
Although it is too early to state categorically how reliable the RS 4 Avant will be, Audi builds cars that are designed to last.
The build quality throughout the cabin is first rate with plenty of soft-touch materials, the finest leathers and smart inserts and inlays to complete the look. It feels sturdy and all the switches and dials are solid in appearance. The gear stick is particularly sturdy.
There is a lot of on-board technology including Audi’s virtual cockpit instrument display and there have not been any major issues with this software system to date.
The car comes with Audi’s three year, 60,000-mile warranty.
Safety & Security
Audi prides itself on developing safe, sound and secure vehicles with a raft of safety features included.
As well as all the more instantly recognisable systems which includes the excellent quattro all-wheel drive technology, the RS 4 Avant was supplied with a Driver Assistance Pack costing an additional £1,250. This introduces Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go and Traffic Jam Assist. It also adds Pre-sense Front which detects pedestrians or vehicles ahead and warns the driver accordingly. If these warnings are ignored, the car will automatically take action to reduce speed. In addition, the pack introduces Traffic Sign recognition, Active Lane Assist and a number of other preventative systems.
Audi is also renowned for its excellent Matrix LED headlights which offer superb lighting of the road ahead without dazzling oncoming motorists. The system will automatically use the high beam when needed and then dip the lights accordingly.