We find out if the new Audi RS4 Avant is a better high-performance estate than its main rival, the Mercedes-AMG C63
Priced from £61,625/$81,960 Release date January
The new Audi RS4 Avant is a very quick estate, a curiously appealing car category, but one without very many entrants. Indeed, until BMW makes an M3 Touring (which it probably won’t) or Alfa Romeo designs an estate version of the Giulia, the RS4 has only one direct rival: the Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate.
Power for the RS4 comes from a 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6 which, in what seems like a recipe for assured, laid-back performance, drives all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. There’s 444bhp, but even more significantly torque is some 443lb ft from only 1900rpm, which further suggests the RS4 is a car that will be effortlessly quick.
2018 Audi RS4 on the road
Just how the RS4 behaves on the road depends, we suspect, slightly on the way you specify it. For example, our test car had an optional system called Dyamic Ride Control, which hydraulically links the suspension to resist body roll, and also Dynamic Steering, which makes the steering react quicker at certain speeds – so it takes less turns of the wheel during manoeuvring. It also had optional 20in wheels, on very low profile tyres.
These fitted, the RS4 is certainly exceptionally capable. The ride’s better than you’d expect, and road and wind noise are both restrained. Meanwhile, in corners it offers bags of grip, and surprising agility given its hefty 1715kg kerbweight.
A Mercedes-AMG C63 is a more naturally rewarding car to drive, though. You can feel the RS4’s four-wheel drive system shuffling power around to maximise grip, so that it corners very fast, but its steering is always remote.
Still, the engine is every bit as strong as you’d hope – there’s so much torque that you don’t need massively snappy gearshifts or to rev the engine out to access the performance. In fact, the conventional automatic gearbox, which is not a twin-clutch unit, feels very well suited to the car. Audi claims a 0-62mph time of 4.1sec, and the RS4 feels every bit as fast.
2018 Audi RS4 interior
Audi does interiors very well, and the RS4’s, based as it is on the latest A4’s, is no exception. It gets the kinds of highlights that you’d expect a major carmaker to add to a sporting variant – some moody trim in places, aluminium highlights, and so on – while the basics all remain to Audi standards of solidity and finish.
The A4’s infotainment system remains one of the best in the business, too, with handy shortcut keys and a rotary dial to scroll through all it can do, with supplementary readouts on the all-digital instrument panel being handled by steering wheel controls. It’s a more fussy interior, then, than, say, a Volvo, but for ease of use it’s vastly superior.
As with performance, price and external dimensions, interior accommodation is really close to that of the AMG C63 Estate, meaning there’s plenty of space for four. However, the RS4 does have a slightly bigger boot: 505 litres vs the C63’s 490 litres.
The Audi RS4 Avant is a really likeable sporting estate car, with huge reserves of ability and a car that, ultimately, offers a unique set of characteristics in the segment.
True, for driving pleasure, we’d prefer the more natural feel of a Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate, plus the noise of its V8 engine. But the RS4 offers all-condition traction thanks to its quattro four-wheel drive and is a quieter car than the Mercedes.
Audi RS4 Avant specs
- Engine V6, 2894cc, twin-turbo, petrol
- Power 444bhp at 5700-6700rpm
- Torque 443lb ft at 1900-5000rpm
- Gearbox 8-spd automatic
- Top speed 155mph (limited)
- Official economy 32.1mpg
- CO2, tax band199g/km, 37%