THIS Sonoma Green wagon is going to make some of your green-eyed neighbours turn their heads.
Not only does the Audi RS 4 Avant look sleeker from the nips and tucks of a facelift, it’s heaps more practical than a chunk of metal that takes the form of an SUV.
The once functional station wagon has been renamed the estate, touring and a slew of fancy sounding names to polish clean any utilitarian stigmas that may linger in its remaking. (What is an SUV other than a mini minibus?) And so the Avant it is for Audi, as it takes the concept further by putting in a powerful engine, refining the luxurious interiors, adding connectivity, sharpening the lines and generally crafting an attractive and desirable luxe machine.
On a stormy day, the green RS 4 Avant flashed along slick roads, assuredly holding its sense of purpose as it made easy work of the wet weather. Wipers a bit hesitant at times, but the coastal roads were clear of traffic by and large on a weepy day such as this. Running parallel to the water, the only sounds keeping me company were the occasional sweeping of the wipers and the lovely engine noises that floated alongside, without intruding into the cabin and making a nuisance of itself.
No matter how much you try and wag its tail, the RS 4 Avant just stays steady, its sleek form cutting through the elements.
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The steering feedback is comfortable to handle without making it devoid of sensation and too effortless. Always nice to have a bit of heft so you get a better sense of what the car is up to, and you feel you’re in control, though, in truth, most things are being thought through by the engine management, in fractions of seconds, ahead of your actions, to keeping you safe.
The new 2.9L V6 engine housed under the heavy, long bonnet kicks out some 331kW of juice and 600Nm of torque, so it’s quick off the mark.
Rapid, actually: 0-100kmh in just over 4 seconds will put a smile on your face, especially if you’ve got the chorus of burbles and growls accompanying you in Sport modes.
In regular driving the engine is well behaved, while taking nothing away from its speed and purpose.
In the livelier Sport modes, the pops and growls are more pronounced. It’s pure entertainment as you flick the metal steering-mounted paddle shifters and switch through the 8-speed gearbox to find the right one to take it through a bend, or go charging up and down slopes.
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While the drive select switch is still on the wrong side of the dash — too close to the passenger side in the right-hand-drive model — in this instance, the sport buttons on the D-steering let you access the fun bits.
Part of the updated features squeezed into this sleek frame are the connected elements so desired and demanded by customers these days.
As a result, it’s all about poking away at the 10.1″ MMI touchscreen, which I’m not a big fan of. Not ideal for someone driving at pace while trying to align their hand with a spot on the screen, while keeping an eye on the road. You’d need the monocular vision of a chameleon to achieve all that safely. It becomes only too apparent that no matter how steady you think the RS 4 Avant may be, it’s not steady enough.
Cabin With Class
The interior appointment of the RS 4 Avant is of a high standard, which is to be expected from a wagon priced at S$360K* (without COE). The detailed honeycomb stitching on the seats and in the trim, and the use of quality leather and carbon fibre, lend that sense of sportiness already evident externally in the honeycomb grille mesh, the striking red brake calipers and the smart design elements worked into the lamps, fore and aft.
There’s a sense of sleekness carried through the design elements of the RS 4 Avant. Creature comforts to match are in place in the most part, like the massage seats and USB ports, but there still isn’t any wireless charging, and the synchronisation between your smartphone and the car’s system is on occasion a hit or miss.
But if it’s versatility and an enjoyable driving experience you’re after, this fancy wagon is great to gallop around in.
Audi RS 4 Avant 2.9 TFSI quattro RATING
*Please reconfirm price with dealer.
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