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Audi RS4 — long-term review

Please, fire up the quattro....

Specification:
Audi RS4 Avant
Engine:
2894cc, V6 twin-turbo, 4WD, 444bhp, 443lb ft
Claimed MPG:
32.1mpg, 200g/km CO2
Performance:
0–62mph in 4.1secs, 155mph
Weight:
1715kg
Price:
£72,175/£77,145 as tested

Whoa, that went fast. Six months is up and the RS4 is no more. But if I’m honest, it’s left me more than a little bit conflicted. You see, I’m going to miss it terribly – as rapid, fuss-free family wheels go, it’s an absolute blinder – but it might also be the definitive fast car for people who don’t like fast cars very much. As someone who likes them a lot, so much so that I’ve pursued a career writing about the damn things, you can see my internal crisis.

For me, a true RS, AMG, M, SVR, etc – one that will stand the test of time – has to have a certain level of compromise, a modicum of everyday usability sacrificed at the altar of speed. It’s not that I particularly like wincing over traffic humps or not being able to hear my podcast properly on the M1, it’s just that these are entirely acceptable when a car is capable of incredible poise, agility and fireworks when you take it for a proper drive.

With the RS4, it appears Audi has placed comfort and refinement to match the A4 Avant 2.0-litre diesel at the top of its wish list, and worked from there. As a result, it rides perfectly well at low speeds, even on its spangly 20-inch aluminium wheels, and devours huge distances with ease. But on the flipside, when you want it to really let rip, the deficit is too much to make up. Flick into Dynamic and the gargling V6 sounds the part, if a little synthetic, but the chassis and steering can’t quite keep pace. It can never hide its mass and rid itself of wallow in the suspension, despite being quite shockingly fast on the straight bits.

This may well be exactly how Audi intended it and precisely what its customers were asking for, but this customer would prefer the dial turned up a bit – otherwise you might as well save yourself £25,000 and buy an S4 Avant instead.

That said, from the quilted seats to its angry face, it’s a beautiful object to touch and behold – and one that met with universal approval from friends and family… suggesting I’m probably reading into this too much and should just appreciate it for what it is: a straight-line missile with a usefully sensible side.

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