Future classic: Audi RS4 Avant

| 21 Jan 2021
Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: Audi RS4 Avant

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Just as football didn’t start in 1992 with Sky and the Premiership, the fast estate didn’t begin with the Audi RS2 of 1994.

It can feel like it, though, and there’s no mistaking its game-changing, seismic impact. It was, after all, the fastest of its type when it was launched. Ever.

Engineered in cooperation with Porsche, with 968 Clubsport wheels and built at Zuffenhausen, it can dispatch the 0-30mph sprint quicker than a McLaren F1.

Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: Audi RS4 Avant

Roll forward 25 years and the RS4 Avant is the descendent, albeit a few generations later and with Porsche a distant branch on the family tree.

By modern sensibilities it is compact, like the RS2. Big enough, certainly; just right, probably. How many RS6 Avants or the unnecessary Q-class Audis move pianos, anyway?

Seats down the difference is about 200 litres, but the RS4 will rarely be found wanting for space and it’ll blow away just about anything else on the road.

Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: Audi RS4 Avant

A huge 444bhp powers it from the lights, a 133bhp increase in a quarter of a century, and from 0 to 60mph in just 4.1 secs (1.3 secs sooner) and on to 174mph with the limiter removed.

Only the furniture you might be lugging in the boot will give other road users a chance.

Too often the sight of an Audi estate today is accompanied by a TDI soundtrack. Not here, with its 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 – the naturally aspirated 4.2-litre V8 experiment is done, finished in 2018.

How you use that power is up to you, and it’s a perfectly usable (and fast) estate much of the time in the more amenable ‘eco’ and ‘auto’ modes.

Switch into ‘dynamic’ mode, selected in a way not as intuitive or simple as in rivals, and the beast awakens.

Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: Audi RS4 Avant
Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: Audi RS4 Avant
Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: Audi RS4 Avant

Loud, responsive, with heavy steering and ever-ready gearing; it’s like a supercar with a trailer. Quite why anyone needs anything more defies belief.

The settings are adjustable, and you can save two presets to customise your drive with ride comfort, degree of steering weight, and exhaust noise.

Its Porsche Panamera cousin is imposingly bigger and quicker, but not noticeably so in the real world; the rapid and sharp Golf GTI, cousin from the other side of the family, is smaller and noisier and, well, ubiquitous.

Here you get the best of both worlds, and added exclusivity.

Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: Audi RS4 Avant

That this car with all the extras costs close to the same as a base-model Porsche 911 both is and isn’t the point.

With this you get 911 acceleration on the tip run without the cliché of being an SUV. And away from ‘dynamic’ mode you have a normal, spacious, comfortable, gliding estate car with demon power.

In a world where model ranges are becoming increasingly confusing and unnecessarily big, original is indeed best.

And when the SUV fad ends you’ll be in the money seats, with the car they wish they’d bought all along.

Images: Olgun Kordal


Factfile

Classic & Sports Car – Future classic: Audi RS4 Avant
  • Engine twin-turbo 2894cc V6; 444bhp @ 5700-6700rpm; 443lb ft @ 1900-5000rpm
  • Transmission eight-speed auto, 4WD
  • 0-62mph 4.1 secs
  • Top speed 155mph (limited)
  • Mpg 29.1
  • Price £65,300

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