2013 Audi RS4 Avant Review

In a class of Audis, this is the one that sits at the back and flicks chewing gum at the others

By Shahzad Sheikh

2013 Audi RS4 Avant

Honestly, for me, the Audi RS range began and finished with the original 1994 RS2 Avant. It was Audi’s first ‘RennSport’ (German for ‘racing sport’) car built in collaboration with Porsche – it was actually assembled by Porsche on the same line they built the 959. Yeah, I know that’s a bit geeky.

Anyway, whilst the rest of the range consisted of sober and suited business-types or at the least tweed-jacketed academicians, this was an Audi gone bad. If it was a person it would have a blue spiky mohican and a chain punched through its nose, it would cuss constantly and get into fights. A lot.

2013 Audi RS4 Avant

I was lucky enough to drive it back in the day and apart from the original Ur-Quattro, it was the only other Audi I’d lusted after. Every RS I’ve driven since them has seemed tamed and timid by comparison – Audi clearly not able to resist rehabilitating the nutty genome into something more mild-mannered.

Admittedly it might just be the colour, but the first time I saw this new 2013 RS4 it evoked strong memories of one of the craziest estates I’ve ever driven, and it got me wondering. Could the RS2 have a worthy successor at last?

2013 Audi RS4 Avant

On paper things certainly look promising. A 4.2 V8 producing 444bhp and sending 317lb ft of torque to Quattro all-wheel drive through a 7-speed double-clutch auto. It accelerates to 100kph in just 4.7seconds and hits a limited 250kph.

Despite being 18 years apart the RS2 was only one-tenth slower clocking 0-100kph in 4.8 (imagine how crazy that was back then) and actually was faster at 262kph (in fact the RS4 will do 280kph if you take up the option to have the limiter raised). The RS2 had a 2.2-litre five-cylinder turbo producing 311bhp. It weighed about 200kg less than the new car. Drive was also sent to a Quattro system through a six-speed manual.

2013 Audi RS4 Avant

The new car of course is utterly saturated with technology and electronics and you can adjust the steering, the engine/gearbox, suspension and even the sports differential (optional).

But before we get into all of that, let’s linger a bit on its looks. Because it does look the absolute dog’s doodahs! Despite its signature Audi-styling templated lines, it boasts a level of aggression and intimidation that nothing in the range this side of an R8 would dream of displaying, and even that mid-engine supercar looks relatively friendlier.

2013 Audi RS4 Avant

This Audi’s been to the gym and taking lashings of steroids having watched lots of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson movies, and as it sits there hunkered down and menacing, you’d swear it’s baring its teeth at you. It may be based on a family-friendly wagon format, but the overall look of this thing is a dare, a challenge: ‘come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough!’

Well there’s an invitation I can’t refuse. Inside, however, things are more back to form – which is to say it’s familiar Audi stuff, well built, well presented, well considered. The giveaways though are the liberal deposits of carbon fibre and the chunky, deadly-serious sports steering wheel. Plus of course the too-discreet ‘Drive Select’ button – a shortcut to the menu you can also reach by pressing ‘Car’ near the MMI knob.

2013 Audi RS4 Avant

How does it drive

Engine sounds reasonably potent though, stick it into drive move off and… oh no! What’s this? The steering feel so light you’d think it wasn’t connected to anything, and I’ve now executed a u-turn when I was only trying to pull out!

No problem, you hit the Drive Select button and put it into Dynamic. The steering feel weightens up significantly as befits the nature of the car. But the ride is then brittle and slightly harsh at town-speeds.

2013 Audi RS4 Avant

Fortunately there’s the Individual setting, which someone has thoughtfully already set-up with steering, engine/gearbox and sport differential in dynamic and suspension in auto – which means it can switch between comfort and sport on its own, depending on the driving style and conditions.

And that’s how I drive it the whole time – which is because this car feels frisky, eager and pumped for action. It wants to go, go, go. So I head for the mountains and take it off the leash. It positively laps up the challenging road with joy.

2013 Audi RS4 Avant

Unsurprisingly the performance is potent with a lot of thrust on tap whenever you need it, the gear-changes through the paddles are sharp and swift, and there’s a delicious sounding parp every time you snap in a new ratio.

It’s quick, that’s for sure. And it feels it. Fortunately the brakes are well up to the task, although I certainly felt they could have been more reassuring if they had a stronger initial bite. Instead in the first moment of tapping the stop pedal the message you get back is: ‘are you sure?’ Shout back with more pressure though and it complies.

2013 Audi RS4 Avant

But none of this would be all that impressive, if this was just a straightline specialist. It’s Quattro though right? And with a clever sports diff thingy that can vary the torque between the wheels. The aim is to kill both understeer and oversteer and make this as direct and neutral as possible.

Our test car had it fitted as an option, honestly speaking I can’t claim that I felt it working, but I can confirm that once the laws of physics are overcome, and the fraction-of-second understeer from the front-heavy stance is compensated for, the RS4 tracks totally and perfectly along your chosen line.

2013 Audi RS4 Avant

The grip is phenomenal, the attitude, stance, and flat-riding body-control will build up enough g-forces to leave you with a crick in the neck as you strain your body to follow through your commitment out of the apex.

Verdict

The RS4 is efficient and precise, a proper high-speed weapon that’s also a strong corner-carver. Plus it offers premium quality, comfort and even space to carry stuff in the back. Not advisable for pets because you’ll just be scraping them off the windows as anything unrestrained in this road-rocket will get splattered on the insides.

2013 Audi RS4 Avant

Is it a true successor to the original RS2 though? Is it fun? Will I still vividly remember driving it in nearly 20 years time? Probably. A little. No. Those are your answers.

It is incredibly good, and it can be thought of as something of a four-door estate version of a Nissan GT-R with a far more appealing interior. It certainly looks like a proper RS should, the sound is evocative, and performance is plentiful and the dynamics are satisfying. It is in fact, the best current RS you can buy.

2013 Audi RS4 Avant

But it’s a refined, mature car too, which should be a good thing. Actually it is a good thing. But then it doesn’t have the rawness of the old RS2. It may be sitting at the back of the class flicking stuff around and passing around notes with rude jokes on them, but it’s also scoring top marks in all the exams and is very polite and presentable when grown-ups are around.

Perhaps that’s just a sign of the times…

2013 Audi RS4 Avant
Specs
Prices
Standard: AED290,000 ($78,800)
Sports Differential option: AED4700 ($1300)
Dynamic Ride Control: AED9600 ($2600)
Price as tested with, sports exhaust, delimiter, camera, sat-nav, panoramic sunroof and more:
AED319,100 ($86,700)
Engine: 4.2-litre V8, 444bhp @ 8250rpm, 317lb ft @ 4000-6000rpm
Performance: 4.7secs 0-100kph, 250kph (280kph delimited), 10.7L/100
Transmission: Seven-speed auto, four-wheel drive
Weight: 1795kg

2013 Audi RS4 Avant

Is this Audi RS4 hard enough for you? Tell us what you think below

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