It would seem to be an oxymoron describing a supercar as ‘subtle’. But since the release of the RS2 Avant in 1994, Audi has been successful alchemist’s, mixing supercar performance with everyday practicality in a recipe that no one seems to have matched. Over the last 25 years, we’ve been spoilt by the calibre of walloping wagons wearing the iconic four rings, and the 2019 Audi RS4 Avant looks to be no different.
Although some are still weeping the loss of the iconic V8, the new power plant is a throwback to the original RS4 in the form of a twin turbo V6. With 331 kW and 600 Nm on tap, clearly, there’s no point crying over spilt cylinders. But there is much more to the RS4 than power figures, so Audi thought it would be a good idea to give me the keys for a week and see if the King would remain on the throne.
It’s always baffled me how Audi has managed to produce such attractive wagons. Maybe the minimalist styling that suits the silhouette… Maybe it’s knowing when to be aggressive and when to be restrained… whatever the case, the new RS4 is a handsome ride. Up front, it’s all very muscular. Honeycomb grills, Large air intakes, and Matrix headlights combine to make a very sharp and purposeful nose.
Walk around the side, however, and things contrast nicely. You still get a touch of butch with the front and rear guards, but the overall profile is quite elegant and tapered. 20” anthracite wheels visually anchor the car nicely with enough detail to juxtapose the minimalist styling. Rounding off that tail is an RS exhaust system featuring oval tips the size of rockmelons and a rear diffuser that induces subtle nods from motoring aficionados. Overall, it’s a styling package that doesn’t scream at you demanding attention, but instead, earns its respect and appreciation.
Whilst predictability is often a negative trait when talking about Audi’s interiors, it’s the highest of praise. Meticulously built, quality materials, all integrated with a lot of technology without feeling kitschy. Of course, being an RS4 model, you get all of this Audi interior goodness and then some. The RS sports seats hug you gently enough to support you through cornering forces (and there are plenty), whilst allowing you to relax on long drives.
You’ll find the RS logo scattered around the cabin, including the flat bottom steering wheel, and whilst many sports interiors feel like a tacky a gym bag, the RS4 leaves its theatre under the bonnet. The RS function on the virtual cockpit is a nice touch, displaying pressures, temperatures, power figures, and while I still love analogue gauges, it’s hard to argue with the flexibility of customizable, digital displays. Sounds are distributed by Danish maestros Bang & Olufsen and if you had any doubts about filling the extra cabin space, I can vouch that the 19 speakers deliver depth and accuracy right across the frequency spectrum.
But if you’re reading this, I assume you’re more concerned with the sonic abilities of that twin turbo V6. And what abilities they are. The RS4 clears its throat with a husky growl and roars all the way to 100kph in a minuscule 4.1 seconds. It’s that combination of power and Quattro that almost feels nostalgic if it wasn’t for that lightning quick 8-speed Tiptronic gearbox. Point to point you won’t find many cars quicker in the wet and with peak torque being delivered from 1900rpm, the RS4 is ready to overtake at will. Oh, and it handles the twisty stuff as well. I’m not sure if it’s the 80kg weight saving from the previous model or the rear bias all-wheel-drive system, but there’s an increased sense of fun and agility that gives the chassis a sense of driving theatre.
But what about daily driving? I hear you ask. I’m afraid the RS4 just kept excelling. I took it to training, to the beach, to the city… I picked up groceries, furniture, and friends… whatever the task, whatever the environment, the RS4 had me covered. The boot packs a decent 505 litres of space which is more than enough for most errands, but when you fold the rear seats down, the storage space triples to a whopping 1510 litres. With the dynamic ride control, you’re able to cruise around in comfort mode absorbing everything and noticing nothing and when push comes to shove, you can engage sport and feel the dampers stiffen at the same rate as your glutes. As hard as it is to believe, the RS4 was as good as a daily as it was a super wagon.
I mean, name another car that is this fast, has these driving dynamics, looks this good, is as well made and has this much space. Crickets, I hear crickets. They say ‘heavy lies the crown’, but this King has beefed up its neck muscles and got a lighter headpiece. There is a time and a place for performance SUVs but I can’t think of many scenarios I’d pick one over this. Space? Covered. Cargo? Covered. All-wheel drive? Covered. All in a package that’s lower to the ground and has a more engaging chassis. So, next time you’re looking at cars at this price point, try and ignore the trends and what’s being rammed down your throat, and think long and hard about what you’re actually going to use your car for. Because from where I’m sitting, all roads lead to the Audi RS4.