Twin-turbo V6 and 330kW for Audi’s new RS4 Avant junior super-estate

The Audi RS4 Avant is back. Powered by the 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 from the recently revealed RS5 coupe, this latest junior super-estate has made its global debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show with the first deliveries scheduled for early 2018.

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?

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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 330kW (the same as the old V8) and 570Nm – a 170Nm 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 100km/h in 4.1sec and will run to a limited 250km/h maximum, unless you opt for the dynamic package, which raises it to 280km/h

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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. 

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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 375kW and 700Nm produced by its 4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 we know the AMG doesn’t want for muscle. Its 4.0sec 0-100km/h 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. It’s going to be an intriguing twin-test when we drive them back-to-back at the beginning of 2018.