Audi RS4 Avant guards its reputation
Many, many years ago, a wise old man told me you never have any worries until you own something. In my innocent, and arrogant, youth, I failed to understand how that could be. Surely possessions gave you security and comfort and generally made your life easier and less stressful?
The passing years have shown me that while his words may not have been fully accurate, there was indeed wisdom behind them. The more you have, the more you have to worry about.
A big lottery win may be most people’s idea of heaven but once that large cheque is in your hands, you are then faced with problems – the biggest of which being what to do with it. After buying the big house, completing the round-the-world cruise and wiping out all your extended family’s debts, you turn your attention to your ultimate set of wheels. And that’s a big problem.
A Ferrari, a Roller or a Bentley may be the first names that spring to mind but then realism kicks in and that sensible alter ego on your shoulder reminds you that while a Ferrari may be fun, a Rolls could be ravishing and a Bentley brilliant for bolstering your self-belief, they won’t necessarily provide what you need for everyday life.
The fact is, we need a car to work for us, whether conveying the shopping, garden rubbish, general clutter, or the kids. While a supercar can give great returns on the sporty scale, it won’t win any awards in a poll of practicality. On the other hand, a big white van can take on most jobs and apparently gives you an air of invincibility on the road, but you won’t be first away from the lights. On the whole, a compromise of performance and practicality is usually just that. A jack of all trades is handy to have around, but a master of none is best done without.
However, there are always exceptions to the rule, like the new RS4 Avant from Audi, which will be here in November. To the casual observer or automotive illiterate, it’s just another medium-sized estate. But look at those flared wheel arches, those massive tyres wrapped around those dramatic alloys, the silver door mirrors and the dramatic road stance and you realise that this is something special.
The third generation of this iconic machine has been eagerly awaited by aficionados since production of the previous model stopped four years ago. The wait will have been worthwhile. The whole package is superb. From the brilliant engineering of the 4.2 litre hand-built V8 engine, through the lightning-fast dual-clutch S tronic transmission and the ultimate four wheel drive Quattro system to the lovely rasp and roar on acceleration, this car fulfils every expectation of the enthusiast.
The interior is spacious, comfortable and brimming with equipment – and there’s still room at the back for large loads.
The car should be good – it follows the RS tradition which goes back to 1993 and is based on the sporting heritage which Audi has developed over the past 30-odd years since it revolutionised rallying in the 80s with the iconic Quattro. Audi arranged for me to take one of the first British-registered models back to its birthplace at their massive production plant at Neckarsulm near Stuttgart. It is also the home of their highly-successful racing division who’ve claimed success at Le Mans 14 times since 1999 – with, most recently, Scot Alan McNish at the wheel in the hybrid diesel powered R18 racecar.
The near 600-mile drive across the Channel gave me the wonderful chance to experience the car in a range of conditions, all of which it took within its considerable stride. The test car had the £1,300 upgrade to increase the maximum speed restriction to 174mph, and while I got some way towards that on the German autobahns, a series of hold-ups and frustrating jams of standing traffic on both sides of the Channel meant I had to make do with the breathtaking acceleration rather than flat-out top speed.
The new RS4 has achieved that remarkable combination of performance with practicality and Audi say with confidence that it is the ultimate and best-ever RS yet.
Yes, it is expensive to buy and run, but that small issue apart, it is just my cup of tea.
CAR Audi RS4 Avant 4.2 FSI quattro S tronic
PRICE From £54,925 (£63,920 as tested)
PERFORMANCE Max speed 174mph; 0-60mph 4.7s
MPG (combined) 26.4mpg
CO2 EMISSIONS 249g/km
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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