Our fave fast wagon returns with a turbocharged V6 to show us the Power of the Force.
In a world gone loco on crossovers, wagons are a rare enough breed, with fast executive wagons even more of a rarity. As far as we're concerned, the RS 4 Avant's (Audi-speak for stationwagon or estate) definitely 'got back', thanks to its subtle musculature, phat stance and pert derrière. In the executive segment, it contends against the likes of the Mercedes-AMG C 63 wagon and Alpina B3 Touring, although the RS 4 gets extra kudos with a lineage that can be traced all the way back to Audi's seminal fast Avant of the mid-1990s, the RS2 Avant.
(If you missed it, click HERE for our COTY2018 intro)
Some 'naturally' lament the passing of the charismatic, naturally-aspirated V8 from the B7 and B8 RS 4s, but the 2.9-litre V6 at the heart of the B9 punches well above its weight-class. A lot of the magic isn't in the outright numbers, but how the performance is delivered, and the RS 4 delivers the goods in a suitably explosive fashion in terms of both forward propulsion, as well as evocative soundtrack.
The RS 4 went from stick-shift-only (and three body-styles including sedan and cabriolet) in the time of the B7 to S tronic dual-clutch (and one Avant body-style) in the time of the B8. For the latest B9, transmission duties are now handled by a slick-shifting 8spd auto that does such a great job you won't miss the dual-clutch gearbox, and for now, just the Avant stationwagon is available.
Fast wagons, or estates if you prefer, are a sly, nudge-wink sartorial choice that appeals to a small niche of buyers that appreciates how incongruous such beasts of burden can be, especially when they go 'full beast mode'. Audi is pretty sure of itself, and tries to keep the lineage pure by retaining the Avant-only package for this B9 iteration of the RS 4, because it reckons avid petrolheads are well familiar with the model's legacy.
(Click HERE to read what a 'big' Audi fan thinks of the RS 4 Avant)
We personally adore fast wagons, because we grew up during the era of the RS2 and Volvo's 850 'Turbobrick' estate in the BTCC. They're anti-cool enough to be très cool, especially because they also follow the mullet ethos: business in the front, party at the back!
Besides, if it's an overtly sporty car you're after, the RS 5 Coupe rides on the same powertrain and should tick all the boxes for the driver who wants some 'show' with the 'go'.
It'll accommodate 505-litres with the rear seats up, but load-lugging capacity increases to 1510-litres with the rear seats folded flat. However, the point of a fast wagon isn't always about pure utility, but a conscious defiant thrust against the crossover contingent establishment.
The cabin is well-appointed with sporty touches and perfect driving ergonomics for fast-road blitzes as well as leisurely commutes.
A variety of driving modes endow the car with different personalities, essential for households that might only have just the one car and don't want to be in maximum attack mode 24/7.
There's an explosive ferocity to the power delivery that belies its sub-3.0-litre displacement, and the 600Nm of torque on tap makes itself felt like a Force Choke, with the car touching the 100km/h mark from standstill in a little over 4secs. However, it's not just about the straight-line sprint either, because the RS 4 is surprisingly nimble for something that tips the scales at 1.7-tonnes, and it handles like a much lighter car.
You can hustle it with sufficient verve to leave you tired and tingling in a good way, and although it doesn't have the same stirring soundtrack of its predecessor's V8, it manages a rousing enough effort with a good amount of firecracker pops on the exhaust overrun.
Moreover, what little the B9 RS 4 loses in terms of sound versus the V8 it more than makes up for in driving response, because it is a far more agile handler compared to its predecessor.
From the way the RS 4 starts-up, to the way it sounds and reacts to a firm hand at the helm, it's a seductive charmer that also happens to be a rambunctious hooligan, particularly when you're driving under the influence of the Dark Side.
PHOTOS Zotiq Visuals
AUDI RS 4 AVANT
Engine 2894cc, V6, biturbo
Transmission 8spd Tiptronic auto
Top Speed 250km/h (electronically limited)
Fuel Consumption 8.8l/100km