Audi RS4 Avant estate
- Four-wheel drive grip
- Every day practicality
- Impressive engine power
- Running costs very high
- Optional extras bump up price
- Weight blunts handling
“The Audi RS4 Avant mixes immense performance with a practical estate bodystyle, making it one of the fastest family cars money can buy.”
With the arrival of the Audi RS5 coupe and convertibles, the latest Audi RS4 only comes as an estate, or Avant if you use Audi's brand of terminology. Like the RS5, the RS4 Avant is only available with a 444bhp 4.2-litre V8 petrol engine, a seven-speed S Tronic dual clutch gearbox and quattro four-wheel drive. However, its estate body adds useful extra practicality for buyers who want performance and space, and provides a rival for the Mercedes C63 AMG estate.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Buying and running an RS4 Avant is a pricey proposition
As it's a little bigger and heavier than the RS5, the RS4 Avant uses more fuel and emits more CO2 than the coupe, returning 26.4mpg and emitting 249g/km, respectively. The engine doesn’t have fuel-saving technology like stop-start, making city driving even more pricey. Servicing, tyres and replacement parts don’t come cheap, either.
Interior & comfort
Despite large wheels and sports suspension, comfort is ok
The RS4 Avant features a very upmarket interior, with very comfortable seats – particularly if you opt for the sports-bucket front seats. Whether you sit in the front or back, there's plenty of space, making it a much more practical proposition than the RS5 Coupe, which only has space for children in its rear seats. Engine noise only infiltrates the cabin when you accelerate hard, while tyre noise is well suppressed, even on the motorway, making long-distance drives stress free.
Practicality & boot space
Sports pedigree doesn’t affect estate’s well-shaped boot space
The RS4 is only available with the Avant bodystyle. However, that means that, as well as performance, buyers also get plenty of space. With the rear seats up, boot space stands at 490 litres. For larger loads, the rear seats fold flat to boost capacity to 1,430 litres. Elsewhere in the cabin, the front and rear seats offer plenty of leg, shoulder and headroom. Opt for the front sports seats for more body-hugging support, although the larger seat backs do impinge on rear legroom.
Reliability & safety
Good reputation for quality and proven mechanicals a bonus
From the moment you open the door, the RS4 impresses with its feeling of quality and solidity. The interior is based on the one fitted to the standard Audi A4 Avant, albeit with some extra carbon fibre trim and sporty seats. It's beautifully made from quality materials. Wide tyres and huge brakes mean that grip and stopping power are easily a match for the powerful engine.
Engines, drive & performance
Incredible grip matches the impressively powerful V8 engine
The RS4 Avant doesn’t quite offer the last word in driver excitement, but its fantastic engine, slick seven-speed S Tronic gearbox and clever four-wheel drive system make the RS4 incredibly easy to drive at speed, whatever the conditions. Drivers can also fine-tune the throttle, steering and exhaust settings via the computerised Drive Select system. A launch control system catapults the RS4 from 0-62mph in just 4.7 seconds – 0.2 seconds slower than the RS5 Coupe.
Price, value for money & options
The RS4 is well equipped, but enticing options add to the price
The RS4 Avant comes with a decent amount of standard equipment, including 19-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension and an old-school DVD-based sat-nav system. However, there's plenty of scope to add options, including ceramic front brakes, front bucket seats, and a sports package that includes 20-inch alloy wheels and a sports exhaust – which combined bump up the price by more than £8,000.
What the others say
At low speeds the engine is smooth and relatively quiet, while gearchanges are unobtrusive if you leave the car in Comfort mode. The ride, while firm, is bearably smooth in this mode, too – despite the fact the RS4 is lowered by 20mm compared with the standard A4 Avant.
It's subtle like it should be, but tough. Got some punch too: it may be a practical estate, but it's a practical estate with a naturally-aspirated V8 that revs to 8,500rpm, hits 62mph in 4.7 and 155 or 174mph top end depending on which limiter you pay for.
This time around, the RS4 is only available as an Avant – Audi reckons buyers of the old saloon and cabrio versions have migrated to the RS5.
Last updated: 23 Jan 2014