As Audi's second child in the RS performance range, how does it fare against its competitors and other RS models? Check this Audi RS4 Avant review.
Performance car in an estate car body
Engine not as exciting as the old V8
Entering production in 1999, the Audi RS4 was the second model in Audi’s performance RS range after the original RS2. Now in its fourth generation, the Audi RS4 Avant, like other RS models, continues to capture the public imagination with its estate car practicality and sports car credentials.
Its closest rivals include some of the best estate cars around such as the Mercedes-AMG c63 Estate, Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo and the BMW M3 (though the latter isn’t available in estate car form factor). But even with just 2 real competitors in the supercar cum estate car niche, Audi hasn’t been able to let its guard down.
Although it's not the most practical estate, it's certainly up there as one of the sportiest family cars on the market in terms of performance and style.
The new RS4’s 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 with eight speed tiptronic transmission gives this car some serious muscle compared to the standard Audi A4 Avant off which it is based. You’ll get from 0-62mph in just 4.1 seconds, with the car maxing out at 155mph (or 174mph, if you pay the extra). You won’t be able to push it that far in the real world of course, but the optional sports exhaust will create a little extra drama around town. That said, you might prefer the more raucous v8 engine of the Mercedes-AMG c63, which generally feels a little more fun to drive.
So, it’s a great car if you need to get yourself, your family and your ski gear to Chamonix as fast as you possibly can, but should you lease one?
We say: if you’ve got the money - why not?
Audi RS4 Avant
The standard RS4 Avant comes with 19-inch x 9.0J '10-spoke star' design Audi Sport alloy wheels, the RS honeycomb grille, Audi’s matrix LED headlights with dynamic front and rear indicators, the class-leading touch screen infotainment system with MMI Navigation Plus, and fine Nappa Leather heated front ‘Super Sport’ seats.
Audi RS4 Carbon Black
The Carbon Black trim comes with larger, 20-inch x 9.0J Audi Sport alloy wheels in glossy black, a black front spoiler, black wing mirrors, black sill inserts, a black-trimmed radiator grille and, you guessed it, black Audi rings.
Audi RS4 Vorsprung
The top-tier Vorsprung trim has the ‘RS Sport Suspension Plus’ with Dynamic Ride Control (DRC) as standard, as well as Dynamic steering, a higher top speed of 174mph and the RS Sport exhaust.
For the latest trim pricing checkout the Audi RS4 Avant lease deals page here you will find our best offers. Or if looking for alternative estate car deals we have this covered, we compile the best leasing offers across England, Wales and the rest of the UK.
The RS4 looks much meaner than the rest of the Audi A4 Avant range - even compared to the sportier S4, which could just as easily be confused with the A4 Avant S Line. It’s got noticeably larger wheel arches; deeper bumpers with larger, more angular air intakes; a lowered suspension, and a generous amount of gloss black trim.
The Audi RS4 swaps out the old V8 engine for a smaller V6 - which packs the same punch at lower revs. It makes plenty of noise, but that noise will never be a substitute for a V8.
Engine and Performance
The new RS4 swaps out the V8 engine for a twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6. It’s 35kg lighter than the old engine, but still produces the same 444bhp. Torque jumps from 430Nm to 600Nm in this latest engine however, and can be summoned up at much lower revs than previously.
The RS4 officially manages 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds. Power is delivered seamlessly via the eight-speed automatic gearbox. Top speed is limited to 155mph, though this can be increased to 174mph if you opt for the Vorsprung trim, which removes the electronic limiter. Not bad for an estate car.
With the ‘quattro’ badge emblazoned on the car’s front grille, you know you’re in for a treat. Audi’s signature four-wheel-drive system is rear-wheel biased in normal driving conditions for a slightly sportier feel, but can send additional power to the front or rear wheels when extra grip is required.
It may not be as exciting as the heavier V8 on the old RS4, but the new, lighter engine makes a significant difference to handling, too. There’s now much less understeer than on the previous model. Dynamic steering is precise and reactive, if a little less exciting than we’d hoped for.
The RS4’s suspension is, predictably, a little firmer than that of the A4 Avant. That said, it’s still incredibly comfortable riding over rough roads and potholes, and there’s plenty of room for adjustment with Audi’s Adaptive Suspension which will let you switch from the super sporty Dynamic mode to the much softer Comfort mode.
Audi RS4 Interior
Audi interiors are consistently among the nicest on offer. The tweaks made to the interior of the Audi RS4 Avant are perhaps a little more subtle than on the outside, but the sporty, flat-bottomed steering wheel and leather sports seats give the car a superior luxury feel.
The RS4’s interior doesn’t make too many changes to the Audi A4 Avant’s interior, retaining the same minimalist but high quality dashboard that puts it ahead of rivals like the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio and the Mercedes-AMG C63.
Unlike in the standard Audi A4 Avant, you get the Audi Virtual Cockpit as standard on the Audi RS4. This gives you a crisp 12.3-inch digital display in the driver’s binnacle, which can display sat-nav directions right within your sightline.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given its close relation to the Audi A4 Avant, the Audi RS4 scores highly in terms of practicality.
4,781mm L x 1,866mm W x 1,404mm H
The sporty styling of the Audi RS4 Avant adds a bit of length and width over the standard A4 Avant, while the low ride height shaves a few millimetres off the car’s height.
The 505-litre boot on the Audi RS4 is slightly larger than that on the Mercedes-AMG C 63 Estate. Fold the rear seats down and you’ll have a whopping 1,510 litres of space at your disposal. The boot aperture is usefully wide and its walls are flat, while the power-operated tailgate adds an extra level of convenience.
There’s plenty of space up front for the driver and passenger, and the same can also be said for rear seat passengers. You’ll notice there’s a little less space on the back bench however, thanks to the larger sports seats up front. The large central transmission tunnel will also make it a bit of a squeeze for the middle passenger.
The RS4 hasn’t been officially tested by Euro NCAP, but the A4 received a 5 star rating in 2015. Standard safety equipment includes Blind Spot Assistance and Audi Pre Sense with Automatic Emergency Braking (which will provide a warning or initiate the brakes if a pedestrian steps in front of you). You can also swap out the standard brakes for ceramic disc brakes for the best stopping power.
If you want more, consider the optional Tour Pack which will get you Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Avoidance Assistance and Traffic Sign Recognition.
This is where performance estates usually start to come undone. However, thanks to the new, smaller V6 engine, the Audi RS4 actually achieves reasonable mpg and emissions scores in spite of its supercar performance.
MPG & CO2 Emissions
The 2.9-litreTFSI V6 manages 29.1 mpg under WLTP, which is pretty good for a car of its size and performance credentials. Compared to the older V8, fuel economy is improved by a fifth while CO2 emissions have fallen by a quarter.
The Audi RS4 Avant is an expensive car - no doubt a target for thieves. As an RS model, it’s full of expensive components and unique body panels which are difficult to repair or replace. No wonder then that the RS4 is in insurance Group 44.
|Lowest Insurance Group
There’s no doubt that this is a desirable car on the second hand market. Estimates that suggest it will still hold 58 percent of its value after three years back this up. It’s had no major reported issues, though reports on Audi reliability in general are mixed. The Reliability Index puts Audi at 34th out of 40 manufacturers for reliability.
The RS4 comes with the standard three-year/60,000-mile Audi warranty - more than enough for the average lease contract. If you’re looking into a high mileage or 4 year lease however, you might want to consider extending this with an Audi Extended Warranty, available annually up to 100,000 miles.
There are two options when it comes to an Audi Service: ‘flexible’ and ‘fixed’. The ‘flexible’ service regime is aimed at high mileage drivers, and requires servicing every 18,000 miles.
The ‘fixed’ service schedule is for people who drive shorter distances, generally in towns and cities, and requires an annual check-up/once every 9,000 miles.