New 444bhp Audi RS4 Avant breaks cover

Audi-RS4Avant1b

Ever since I sold my own B7 RS4 in 2008, I’ve been eagerly waiting this new version, half expecting (or hoping) that it turns out to be a subtly scaled down RS6 – restoring the services of blown induction to the RS4 (absent since the Mk1).

Due to premiere at next month’s Geneva Motor Show, the 2013 Audi RS4 uses the RS5’s 444bhp 4.2-liter V8 engine with 430Nm (317.15 lb-ft) of torque, channelling its power through Audi’s seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmission with manual shifts available via steering-wheel mounted paddles.

Keep in mind:

Brakes: 380-millimetre carbon fibre ceramic discs together with six-piston callipers are available as an option on the front axle.
Driving Dynamics: Audi drive select driving dynamics system is a standard feature on the RS4, with 3 selectable modes – comfort, auto and dynamic – which determine the characteristics of the steering, the S tronic transmission and the throttle response.

Also for the first time, the RS4 is fitted with launch control, which balances the clutch engagement with minimal wheel slip for explosive starts.

Like every RS Audi, the RS 4 Avant comes standard with quattro permanent all-wheel drive. The heart of this system is the crown-gear centre differential, a compact and lightweight component which can vary the distribution of power between the front and rear axles, with a default ratio of 40:60, smoothly and over a wide range. Up to 70 percent of the available torque can be directed to the front, or as much as 85 percent to the rear.

The self-locking crown-gear center differential works together with the torque vectoring system, which acts on all four wheels. If the load on the inside wheel is reduced too much while the car is being driven dynamically, the torque vectoring system brakes it slightly before unintended slip can occur.

Keep in mind:

Exhaust: Audi drive select can even vary the sound of the exhaust system, double-declutching when downshifting in dynamic mode. Also a sports exhaust system is available as an extra cost option to deepen the tone of the exhaust note, and where this is fitted the exhaust pipes feature matte black caps.
Dynamic Steering: Included with Audi drive select, this varies the RS4’s steering ratio by nearly 100 per cent depending on speed and automatically countersteers slightly at the cornering limit for even more precise and stable handling.
Ride Control: Dynamic Ride Control (DRC) is available as an extra cost option. The system connects diagonally opposed pairs of shock absorbers by way of oil lines and a central valve, promoting greater stability and composure at speed. The three damping modes are controllable via the Audi drive select system.

Another improvement on the previous RS4 is the option of Audi’s sport differential, which uses two superposition stages to actively distribute power between the rear wheels, thereby curing the B7 RS4’s predilection for understeer.

Performance is expected to be on a par with the RS5, with 0-62 mph in 4.7 seconds and the usual electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph, although this can be increased to 174 mph upon request. Audi claims the RS4 will achieve 25.7 mpg on the combined cycle.

As with the B7 RS4, the new RS4 is shod with 265/35 tyres on 19″ light-alloy wheels, together with ventilated and cross-drilled 365 mm steel discs clamped by eight-piston callipers at the front. 380 mm front carbon-ceramic discs will be available as an option, in combination with six-piston callipers.

The RS4’s signature flared arches are present front and rear, looking slightly more prominent than the previous version. When viewed from the side, the chiselled sill extensions and flared wheel arches enable the RS 4 Avant to strike a powerful pose even in profile, and give a nod to the pioneering Audi quattro from the 1980s.

Audi will offer the new RS4 in Avant form only.

The Avant has always outsold the saloon (both in the case of the RS4 and RS6), plus of course the S5 Sportback is available as a 4-door so there’s even less reason for the RS4 to follow suit.

Inside the new RS4 is fitted with heavily sculpted sports seats, a flat bottom steering wheel and all the usual RS-specific trim and detailing. The interior of the RS 4 Avant is finished completely in black, with the exception of the roof lining, which is optionally available in Moon Silver.

Chrome clasps subtly accentuate switches and control elements, whilst carbon inlays are standard, with brushed matte aluminium, Aluminium Race, piano black finish or a light stainless steel mesh available as options.

Will it be a winner? In some ways I’m disappointed that it remains powered by a normally aspirated engine, although it is one of the all-time great V8s, so I shouldn’t really grumble.

Exact pricing and specification details for the new RS 4 Avant have yet to be finalised here in the UK, and will be confirmed nearer to the point when orders can be taken, but with a price in Germany of 76,000 Euros it would be a good idea to set aside around £58,000 for when it arrives in the UK later this autumn.