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MotorBar
Audi RS 4 Avant Black Edition
Click to view picture gallery“One lucky person I know owns
  an RS4 Avant
due to its estate
  capabilities, she affectionally calls
  it
The Van. And as hers is the go-
  faster 174mph Vorsprung version,
  that must make it the fastest
van
  in the country...”


AUDI'S 'WICKED WAGON' RS4 MODELS are prized for their barnstorming performance and stonking V8 engines. So, something of a surprise then that the latest generation RS4's engine bay is now home to six-cylinders rather than eight — not a problem, though, given that the biturbo 2.9-litre V6 punches out a hardcore 444bhp backed up by a stump-pulling 443lb ft of torque.

This V6 powerplant also emits 25 per cent less CO2 emissions and, considering its 4.1-second 0-62mph sprint and 155mph top speed, is far more economical than it has any right to be. The official 'combined' figure is given at 28.5mpg that noted, a week's enthusiastic driving in our Black Edition RS 4 saw us record a test average of 31mpg. Sure, drive everywhere at ten-tenths and you'll put a big dent it that number, but the beauty of the RS 4 is that you don't have to drive like a demon to savour its adrenaline hit.

The RS 4’s 444bhp,
backed up by an equally
potent 434lb ft of torque,
endows it with power
as well as fury.
If its firepower you crave
the RS 4 will slate your
thirst. Whatever the revs,
this 2.9-litre biturboed
V6 is up for mischief,
scooting off like the
proverbial scalded cat.
And its characterful,
bassy soundtrack is an
added incentive to
prod the pedal...”
The RS 4's exterior is deliciously understated, so much so that even wearing an eye-catchingly stand-out shade of blue only makes it looker sleeker and not a jot showier. Even its wheelarch blisters seem restrained; they're not just for show, either, wrapped tightly as they are over 20-inch alloy wheels shod with meaty 275/30 rubber.

The multi-spoke wheels are finished in high-gloss black to match the black door mirrors, roof rails, and the black grille. Matrix LED headlamps with distinctive LED daytime running lights define each front corner, bookending Audi's iconic singleframe honeycomb mesh grille and further emphasises this über-estate's low-riding, take-me-to-a-track attitude. Photographs can't really do the RS 4 justice = in the metal it gives off palpable presence, projecting a Savile Row-suited brawniness that alone justifies its £77K price tag.

Despite its well-earned high-performance halo, its cabin contributes an equal share to the RS 4's unique appeal the RS 4's 'cockpit' is a place you'll want to spend time. Lots of it. Along with much more space than you might have been expecting, the RS 4's cockpit is much like a fighter jet's in that everything you need is close to hand and easily within your vision. Best of all are the fabulous, firmly plump Super Sport front seats finished in fine Nappa leather with honeycomb design quilted centre panels.

And they adjust every which way for a truly bespoke fit: there's power adjustment for everything from the lumbar support and usual seat movements, plus you can also adjust the seat base and backrest bolstering in/out for a perfect fit. Additionally there are three massage programs, and with the integrated headrests and shoulder 'wings' the seats provide superb support. Oh, yes, you also get manual adjustment for the extending front edge to set the most comfortable degree of under-knee support. And it's all made even more accessible by a powered easy-entry function.

You would expect such fabulous seats to me matched to an equally appealing wheel and, naturally, you get one: the RS sports steering wheel, with perforated work areas and heated rim, is rewarding to grip and use; its multifunction controls are obvious, and all clearly marked. From behind the three-spoker the driver enjoys a unimpeded view down the bonnet so placing the RS 4 couldn't be easier. Pity the poor supercar owners with their swoopy bodystyling and restricted vision. A bonus is that what's coming up behind the RS 4 is equally easily seen.

Despite its well-earned
high-performance halo,
the RS 4’s cabin
contributes an equal
share to its unique
appeal — the RS 4’s
‘cockpit’ is a place you’ll
want to spend time.
Lots of it.
Along with much more
space than you might
have been expecting, the
RS 4’s cockpit is much
like a fighter jet’s in
that everything you need
is close to hand and
easily within your vision.
Best of all are the
fabulous, firmly plump
Super Sport front seats
finished in fine Nappa
leather with honeycomb
design quilted centre
panels...”
Seats and wheel aside, the RS 4's cabin is a haven of good taste and premium quality with lavish use of carbon fibre trim (the real McCoy) and meticulous attention to detail. Sitting tall, top dead centre of the dash, is a high-def 10.1-inch screen that's home to the SatNav and comprehensive infotainment including DAB radio and smartphone interfacing (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto). Below it sits a panel containing conventional, and foolproof, buttons and knurled rotary knobs controlling the three-zone climate still the best set-up for drivers on the move.

User-friendly comms are essential in such a fast-charging machine as the RS 4 and here Audi delivers yet again with its RS-specific Virtual Cockpit system fronted by a 12.3-inch TFT instrument panel. Offering multiple driver-selected views ranging from full-coverage 3D mapping, 'trad' dials, posted speed limits and actual road speed to trackday data such as boost pressure, power and torque output, and even G-force levels (not that you'll have time to look but a brave front passenger might!).

Of course, if you specify the option head-up display you'll have all the most important information right in front of your eyes and no excuse to take your eyes off the road: road speed, posted limits, and graphic navigation prompts are all there, pin-sharp on the lower windscreen.

Making life easier still is an excellent voice control system that enables Google search as well as direct control of the navigation and media, etc. Not that reversing and parking the RS 4 is ever a problem due to its regular corners and first-rate visibility but included in the package is a brilliant BW 360-degree camera (that, in addition to a bird's-eye view can also show the front, side, rear and corner aspects). Finally, should you need it, there's a Safety and Service e-call facility.

Although there are some tempting options listed, the penultimate Black Edition trim includes everything you are likely to want. In addition to items mentioned elsewhere (such as the Virtual Cockpit, navigation and infotainment system, leather-clad cabin, and massage seats) there's keyless entry and start, three-zone climate control, a Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system, stainless steel pedals, ambient LED interior lighting, four one-shot windows, powerfolding heated and auto-dimming door mirrors, privacy glass, heat-insulating and privacy glass, auto-dimming frameless rearview mirror, electric parking brake with auto-hold, Drive Select, RS Sport suspension, and a set of twenty-inch alloy wheels.

Safety items include automatic emergency braking, quattro all-wheel drive with Sports diff, adaptive matrix LED headlights, automatic dip/main beam switching, headlight washers, cruise control, speed limiter, Parking Assistance with Side Assist plus side and corner proximity warning, hill hold, tyre pressure monitoring, and dynamic indicators front and rear.

Externally the RS 4 stakes out a 4.7 by 1.8 metre rectangle of blacktop, a space its cabin makes maximum use of it. Rear seats, even token 2+2 pseudo seats, are rarely found in cars with the RS 4's searing levels of performance. That noted, two grown-ups can travel extremely comfortably in the RS 4's beautifully quilted and supportive outer rear seats.

Request your pilot to
drive in Comfort mode
and you
ll ride along just
dandy
on the bulk of
British roads, this
softest Drive Select
setting serves up an
amazingly good ride, the
RS 4
s suspension
ironing out lumps and
bumps and smoothing
over tatty tarmac with
aplomb.
For such a hard-charging
driving machine the
RS 4 can deliver a truly
plush ride quality that
you wouldn
t believe
until you
ve lived it.
Impressive!”
There's even room for a third between them, should another passenger be invited to join them. Backrest angles are relaxing, plus leg and head room (a fist of it, no less, in spite of sitting higher than in the front) all unexpectedly good, even for taller travellers.

Other benefits include child seat anchorages (incidentally, the front passenger seat also has them), stretchy seatback pouches, large wine bottle-holding door bins, a made-to-share, drop-down centre armrest with a built-in lidded storage tray (for tablets and smartphones) and pop-out cupholders, as well as dedicated 'third zone' air vents with independent controls.

Request your pilot to drive in Comfort mode and you'll ride along just dandy on the bulk of British roads, this 'softest' Drive Select setting serves up an amazingly good ride, the RS 4's suspension ironing out lumps and bumps and smoothing over tatty tarmac with aplomb. For such a hard-charging driving machine the RS 4 can deliver a truly plush ride quality that you wouldn't believe until you've lived it. Impressive!

Bypass all the dynamic tech stuff and the heart of any sizzling performance car is its engine. And the RS 4 has the heart of a lion. Its 444bhp, backed up by an equally potent 434lb ft of torque, endows it with power as well as fury. If its firepower you crave the RS 4 will slate your thirst. Whatever the revs, this 2.9-litre biturboed V6 is up for mischief, taking off like the proverbial scalded cat.

And its characterful, bassy soundtrack is an added incentive to prod the pedal; if you've ticked the box for the optional RS Sport exhaust system, which plays to the gallery on full-bore upshifts, howling like a banshee as the eight-speed tiptronic autobox fires unerringly through the ratios, then one thing's for sure: you'll be spending a lot of time in Dynamic mode loving the RS 4's spine-tingling voice as it sings while it zings while it works.

And while it will fire you off the line to hit 62mph in a sizzling 4.1 seconds, it so much more than a sharp sprinter keep your right foot planted and you won't stop accelerating until the limiter calls time at 155mph. Whenever you fancy playing master and commander you can use the autobox's by the way, it's a torque converter auto as opposed to a dual-clutch item (and better for it!) selector lever in Manual mode or finger-flick shifts on demand using the paddle-shifters on the soo-tactile wheel.

Needless to say, its effortless power has benefits even pootling around town, where you barely notice the up/down shifting or the V6's mechanical musings. Cruising motorways, the RS 4 delights as an almost soundless mile-eater. Even climbing and descending Alpine-grade slopes, fully laden, the tiptronic can be trusted to always be in the right gear and respond instantly. Plus the deliciously thick-rimmed sports steering wheel shares a decent amount of 'feel', welcome on demanding

The fact that, on such a
fast car, there
s room
left over in the boot for
real-life luggage
and
even a large dog

is rather amazing.
A handsfree-op powered
tailgate, wide boot
aperture and low,
minimal-lipped loading
sill make using the
RS 4
s regular shaped
boot a chore you
ll be
happy to do for yourself.
There
s 495 litres even
with a full set of
passengers aboard;
drop the 40:20:40-split
rear seatbacks and the
resulting seamless
loadbay, all 1,495 litres
of it, is ready
to go...”
Keeping everything focused dynamically is Audi's quattro all-wheel drive, dishing out all the traction you can stand. While the weather is fair it generally sends 40 per cent of the driving torque to the front wheels and rest to the tail. However, if it needs to it can shunt as much as 85 per cent to the front or, alternatively, seventy per cent to the rear.

Another element in the RS 4's polished road-handling repertoire is torque vectoring by braking, adding a congratulatory thrill as you set-up, cleanly slice through, then rocket cleanly out. The brakes also deserve high praise: feelsome and easy to modulate, they deliver pretty awesome stopping power thanks to hefty drilled and ventilated discs.

Seriously low-pro 275/30 Continental Sport Contact rubber adds extra 'stickiness' to all-roads-all-weather capability. Few mesmerizingly quick cars manage what the RS 4 does; even fewer manage it with the Audi's aplomb, rewarding you for driving quickly but then when you back off the pace, remain almost as satisfying.

The fact that, on such a fast car, there's room left over in the boot for real-life luggage and even a large dog is rather amazing. A handsfree-op powered tailgate, wide boot aperture and low, minimal-lipped loading sill make using the RS 4's regular shaped boot a chore you'll be happy to do for yourself. There's 495 litres even with a full set of passengers aboard; drop the 40:20:40-split rear seatbacks (a quick pull on the levers close to the tailgate) and the resulting seamless loadbay, all 1,495 litres of it, is ready to go.

Whichever cargo mode you choose, the roller blind luggage cover lifts up as the tailgate rises (and self closes when you're done). You'll also find a sturdy dog guard built in behind the rear backrests; it takes but seconds to raise to keep your just-walked four-legged friend from jumping all over the cabin.

The multi-section rear seatbacks are a definite plus, offering, as they do, plenty of flexibility should you need to move goods and cargo around together. Other well considered features include a reversible luggage compartment floor, pop-out bag hooks, a striplight each side, 12v socket, and two side pocket in the wings. Another very pleasant surprise is that the RS 4 will tow a braked 2,100kg. You won't find a supercar that can do that!

Spend £77K on an RS 4 and you'll have something pretty unique one of the very few super-fast estate cars on the planet. Plump for the flagship Vorsprung model that's good for 174mph if you must, but the 'regular' 155mph will, along with the bonus of genuine 'wagon' capabilities, do everything most supercars can do, and in all weathers. Warning: Highly Addictive! ~ MotorBar
.
Audi RS 4 Avant Black Edition | £76,475
Maximum speed: 155mph | 0-62mph: 4.1 seconds | Test Average: 31mpg
Power: 444bhp | Torque: 443lb ft | CO2: 225g/km

.