For over 25 years Audi has been tweaking and tuning their family wagons into family flyers, starting with the RS2 that was co-developed with sister company Porsche. Their latest effort is the $152,990 Audi RS4 Avant 2018.
It’s almost 50 grand more than the S4 Avant but once you see it, the premium is obvious. And that’s before you even climb in.
Sitting on a new 80kg lighter chassis, its broad stance is exaggerated by a low ride height and 30mm wider front and rear guards inspired by the Audi 90 IMSA GTO racer, that covers the steam-roller wide, low-profile 20-inch Pirelli tyres on milled five-spoke alloys. It has a ground-hugging front spoiler, gloss black grille and the long, sleek and the roof spoiler elongates its silhouette.
It looks powerful, purposeful and menacing. A mate even asked if it came in Hulk green! The stunning Misano red paintwork perfectly captures the RS4 Avant’s crisp lines.
Like all Audi’s there is copious substance to match its looks and in the case of the Audi RS4 Avant 2018, it’s wickedly fast and refined with a first-class cabin and everyday versatility.
A gentle brush of the loud pedal introduced me to the full effect of the fastest ever RS4; its twin turbochargers feeding the 2.9-litre V6 engine to produce a whopping 331 kilowatts and 600-newton metres.
Zero to 100km/h is over in 4.1 seconds and top speed is electronically limited to 250km/h. I’d love to know the unlimited number!
Its savage acceleration pins you back in the seat as the scenery blurs and the two huge exhausts provide a high-tech bark. It’s a sound that I played over and over again.
Its bitumen searing grunt is sent to the road through all four wheels, via a slick-shifting eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox and an electronically controlled torque vectoring rear differential.
Enormous ventilated and drilled discs and beefy six-piston brake calipers rapidly wash off speed and a hard stomp on the left pedal feels like your eyeballs are about to join the head-up display on the windscreen.
Enhancing the driving experience are the Dynamic Ride Control and Audi Drive Select (auto, comfort, dynamic, individual) letting you tailor its ride, handling, steering, gear shifting and the ferocity of its power delivery. For those skilful or brave enough the traction control can be switched off.
Its physics-defying lateral grip; scalpel-sharp steering, pliant suspension, slingshot acceleration and surefootedness leave you in awe of its capabilities. It’s enthralling to drive quickly, an effortless long-distance cruiser and still joyful when ambling along in traffic.
But the RS4 Avant isn’t all brute force and speed. The superbly crafted and appointed, bathed in black and best-in-class cabin brims with soft leather, Alcantara, carbon fibre and chrome.
The soft-leather front sports seats are powered, heated and have a three-way massage function. You sit low in the RS4 Avant with all controls in easy reach and the suede-wrapped D-shape wheel is beautiful to hold. Black seatbelts with red edging add a racy touch.
Rear head and legroom is good and an electrically operated tailgate accesses the spacious cargo area that grows exponentially with the rear seat folded.
Intuitive and easy-to-use Audi’s infotainment system includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, sat nav, reversing and 360-degree camera, wireless phone charging, DAB+ digital radio and a host of apps and settings. Filling the cabin with a crystal clear sound is a 19-speaker 3D Bang and Olufsen stereo.
Audi has thrown its substantial driver assist and safety tech into the RS4 Avant which comes with eight airbags, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, exit warning system, rear cross traffic assist, blind spot warning, pre-sense basic – if an emergency is detected, autonomous emergency braking with turn assist, collision avoidance assist, auto high beam and self-parking and more.
Needless to say, it’s as safe and secure as it is speedy and has a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
After waving goodbye to the Audi RS4 Avant 2018 that I’d grown to love, what remains with me is not just its power ride, handling and comfort, but its overall completeness that ticks every box.
For more info on the Audi RS4 Avant 2018 model, head to Audi’s website.