Quick Audi’s tend to be a love, hate affair. Some are sublime, others downright awful. So jumping into the 2018 RS4 Avant I wasn’t sure what I’d end up with.
With a starting price of £62,175 this particular Nardo Grey wagon had a ton of extras thrown at it, over ten grands worth in fact. The priciest options being the RS Sport Suspension – £2,000, speed limit lifted to 174 MPH – £1,450, RS Sport exhaust system – £1,200, Dynamic steering – £950 and the LED matrix headlights £850.
As you can see the option list is ceaseless and extravagant.
It seems Nardo Grey is a bit of a marmite colour. Personally I love it, others think it’s totally bland or that it’s primer. Each to their own.
The RS4 looks as though a heavy weight has been placed on its roof. Squashed and slightly splayed out compared to a normal A4 estate, it offers a ton of road presence. The need for a front number plate here in the UK makes that huge gaping front grille seem a tad smaller which is a shame, but the flared arches front and rear give a hunkered down look.
Huge rear ovals are the mainstay of RS Audi’s and are naturally present once again, along with a set of optional 20” 5 spoke alloys. A total de-chrome finishes off this rapid estate nicely.
Now the important bit. How does it drive?
In a word? Incredible.
Never have I been in a fast estate that feels so much smaller than it is.
Powered by a 2.9 litre bi-turbo V6 the RS4 pumps out 444 BHP and a gargantuan 600 Nm of torque, making it good for a 0-62 time of 4.1 seconds. And the best bit about it is that all that power is truly useable.
Thanks to a clever differential the 40:60 front/rear bias can move torque around as needed. Even on the damp, icy roads we were driving on, there wasn’t a tremble of a slide to be had blasting around some B roads.
You will get the occasional tell-tale noise of spinning rubber on tarmac, but this lasts milliseconds before a wheel with grip would take over and bite into the road beneath.
It’s not as though the RS4 is particularly light either, tipping the scales at 1,715 kg it’s no bantamweight. But that sense of length and weight just aren’t present.
You can dive into a corner at ludicrous speed, brake deep into the apex and then mash the throttle to the floor without any drama at all. You don’t have to baby the RS4, you can be a hooligan and it puts up with it. Pulling you through bends and out the other side as if you’d taken them at a walking pace.
The optional ‘Dynamic Steering’ adapts to the way the car is being driven, making it sharper over every day driving conditions, or slowing down and favouring precision at higher speeds.
Quite a few journalists loathe it for detracting steering feel, not having tried it without we can’t comment on that. However the steering is nicely weighted but ultimately feels lifeless and computer gamey.
Braking is handled by some hefty 375mm stoppers up front and 330mm at the rear. You can option carbon ceramics for a whopping £6,000 but the steel ones performed admirably well providing good modulated feedback and a nice amount of initial bite.
A lot has to be said for the optional RS Sport suspension with Dynamic Ride Control. Basically that means trick adaptive dampers all-round. Not only do they soften for around town, but they’ll preload under acceleration, braking and cornering, negating pitch and roll no matter what you throw at the RS4.
Switch into Dynamic and the shocks set like concrete, you’re bustled around over rougher sections of tarmac but the compromise in rigidity is worth it.
Comfort mode helps smooth things out no end, making this Avant a super cruiser, town car and track weapon all in one.
One thing that makes performance cars are big seats. As standard the RS4 comes with the huge RS Sports seats. Whilst they may not aid comfort or visibility to rear seat passengers they are sublime in their fit. Finished in black leather with red stitching they looked stunning against the grey exterior.
Another thing Audi do particularly well, Alcantara steering wheels. This one felt particularly svelte in hand, like a work of art with its soft black finish, contrasting red stitching peaking between your fingers.
One of the biggest draws to the RS4 is the practicality of it, that’s backed up by the 505 litre boot space. Which measures in at 15 more than the comparative C63.
If there was ever the perfect all-rounder, the one car for every day, all eventualities, no matter the weather. The RS4 ticks the box.
From lugging kids, bikes, suitcases or flat pack from Ikea, it can do it. In the next instant it can take on any supercar you throw at it, because around the tight and twisties this thing will leave most for dust.
Never have I driven a fast Audi that is this perfect, or feels this good. The current RS4 is a truly special machine.