It loses the naturally-aspirated V8, but the new force-fed V6 still makes the latest RS4 a superb drive.
Photos Joel Tam
The new Audi RS4 makes you wanna drive and drive, and then drive some more. A true drivers car will make you want to do that. But this isn’t just any drivers car. This is a spacious and reasonably comfortable wagon-styled performance car.
Any privileged petrolhead will tell you that while track-focused machines like a Porsche GT3 or a Lotus Exige are simply out-of-this-world to pilot, their lack of practicality just makes them useless as everyday cars.
Not so the RS4. Sure, it’s not as sharp as a bare bones sports car, but it more than makes up for that in many other areas.
Like all other Audis we’ve driven, the immaculate fit and finish of the new RS4 are perfect. Compared to its competitors (BMW and Mercedes), the Audi achieves quality - and the appearance of it - through a cleaner, more modern design.
The monochromatic theme is only slightly disrupted by some red stitching on the seats and a few tiny bits of red RS badging littered across the interior panels.
Start up the new car and you’ll notice that the deep throaty V8 is gone. Replaced with a slightly ‘thinner’ sounding V6, the 2.9-litre unit makes a very meaty 450 bhp and 600 Nm of pure pulling power.
On a cold start, the exhaust growl and idea boom is capable of waking up the neighbours. So that’s good, in a sadistic, I-like-my-cars-loud sort of way. Plus it’s stock, so it’s perfectly legal too.
Storm the RS4 through your favourite roads and you'll immediately notice that the new car feels lighter than the model it replaces. Light and nimble, the sharp-looking wagon exhibit pin-point handling characteristics too.
This is largely helped by the Quattro system that never fails to inspire confidence, whether in sunny or wet conditions. Steering feel is not overly artificial and feels well-balanced, but it did come across as a tad bit light.
But I personally have always preferred a heavier steering weight. Nonetheless, it remains accurate, and all these combine in making the RS4 a wholesome car to pilot.
The new RS4 is supercar-quick. 0-100 km/h in 4.1 seconds and a limited top speed of 250 km/h. This means covering road space is a ridiculously simple task. Floor the accelerator and the German estate will hurtle down the road with a stupendous amount of pace.
The new car feels clearly lighter than the old one, which allows it to react nimbly in a quick succession of turns and inputs made to the steering wheel. But it can also be a highway cruiser when in comfort mode. With all the space and practicality of a wagon, the RS4 still tops the charts on being an all-round family sports car.
Given a choice, I'd still prefer the previous V8 RS4. I'm constantly dreaming of procuring a used example. Another one high on the list is the RS6. Don't get me wrong, I really love the new RS4. But while it is still high on the desirability scale, it will still have to slot below the former two.