FOUR SQUARE (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
Ballistic estates have become something of an Audi touchstone and they don't come any better than the latest RS 4 Avant. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 49
The RS4 shows Audi at its brilliant best. Fast, frantic but perfectly practical, this improved version of the fourth generation model remains a Ferrari for families, a five-seater estate that here retains 2.9-litre V6 biturbo power with a 450PS output, but gains a smarter look and a plusher cabin.
Backgroundword count: 210
Every once in a while, a car is developed that is so good and such a class benchmark that other manufacturers are very wary about taking it on. The Range Rover for example - maybe even the Mazda MX-5. Audi makes such a car too - and it's this one, the RS4 Avant. If you want a very, very fast, four-wheel drive estate with supercar performance, there's really no credible rival to this one. The work of Audi Sport, the Ingolstadt brand's go-faster arm, the genes of this particular car can be traced right back to quattro's first product, the RS2 estate that was co-developed with Porsche in 1994. It paved the way for the first generation in the RS4 line, the 2.7-litre twin-turbo MK1 model of 2000, ferociously quick but ultimately rather unsatisfying in the way that very fast Audis used to be. But aren't any more. The second generation RS4 of 2006, this car, proved to be a landmark car for the brand, a machine good enough at last to properly challenge the all-conquering BMW M3. The third generation version of 2012 used the same 4.2-litre V8 and continued that trend, But can the same form line be maintained with the switch to V6 power? Let's find out.
Driving Experienceword count: 272
The 450PS 2.9-litre TFSI biturbo engine is just as before, powering this car to 62mph from rest in just 4.1, six-tenths of a second quicker than the old MK3 model's 4.2-litre V8 could manage. As before, this family estate can hit 174mph on the Nurburgring (if you specify the optional 'RS Dynamic' package) but is just as happy collecting your dry cleaning. You only truly get a sense of just how fast it is by following behind in something else. The engine's power flows to the quattro permanent all-wheel drive system via an eight-speed tiptronic auto paddleshift gearbox. In regular driving, the system delivers more power to the rear axle. Its purely mechanical centre differential directs 60 percent of the torque to the rear axle and 40 percent to the front. If undesired slip occurs at one axle, most of the power is automatically and rapidly redirected to the other axle - up to 70 percent to the front or up to 85 percent to the rear axle. The high locking values enable a clearly defined torque distribution and highly precise interaction with the control systems of the ESC and wheel-selective torque control. The driver can tailor their personal driving experience via the standard Audi drive select dynamic handling system. There are five profiles available: comfort, auto, dynamic and the customisable, RS-specific RS1 and RS2 modes. The standard-fit RS sport suspension sets the Audi RS 4 Avant another seven millimetres lower than the standard S4 with sport suspension. An 'RS sport suspension plus' package with 'DRC' 'Dynamic Ride Control' is available as another option, as are ceramic brakes and RS-specific dynamic steering.
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Category: Sporting Cars
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