Geneva Motor Show Preview: Audi RS4


Audi's new RS4 is a 450 hp, all-conditions weapon, but will it find a place among the great RS Audis?

Audi’s quintessential all-purpose sports wagon has returned with the third-generation RS4, and it brings along a host of improvements over previous generations. RS4s have always been some of the most well-received cars in Audi’s RS range (though as a former RS4 owner, our own Jack Wood might disagree), and on paper at least, this one looks like it will live up to its forebears.

Powered by the same 450 hp 4.2 liter V8 found in the RS5, it gains 30 hp over the previous generation B6 RS4. Zero to sixty-two will come in 4.7 seconds. Beyond this, the requisite German fun police speed limiter kicks in at 155 mph, but this can be bumped up to 174 mph, presumably for a cost.

Power is distributed to all four wheels through a seven-speed S-tronic dual clutch gearbox and a crown-gear center differential. This trick differential has a default 40:60 front to rear ratio but can send as much as 70 percent of power to the front axle and 80 percent to the rear when needed. Launch control and an electronic stability program (which can be switched off completely) both come as standard.

To keep unsprung weight at a minimum, much of the suspension components are crafted from aluminum. Audi claims that this coupled with a new speed dependent power steering system gives the driver precise steering with plenty of feedback.

Despite the relative sales success of the previous- generation RS4 in the United States, this RS4 will only come in Avant form. This might be a bad sign for potential US buyers, since fast wagons traditionally don’t sell in the States (Have you ever seen a Cadillac CTS-V wagons on the road?). The flared arches make the RS4 24 millimeters wider than the standard A4 which, along with new front and rear facia, give it that trademark buttoned-down bruiser RS4 look.

Hopefully, the RS4 will be better received than the Audi RS team’s previous effort, the RS5. You might remember that the RS5 was maligned in most test drives for its numb steering and odd handling characteristics. That being said, Audi will be debuting an updated RS5 alongside the RS4 at the Geneva Motor Show in about two weeks.