HOW APT that the final test drive of 2018 should be in one of the most enjoyable cars driven this year.
The stationwagon has undergone a dramatic makeover since the acceptance of SUVs as a preferred means of transportation. No longer a pack mule for small deliveries, the station wagon has been forced to reinvent itself over the decades.
The station wagon has taken on more fashionable and image muddling names like estate, touring, tourer, shooting brake, sportbrake and in Audi’s case, the Avant.
A Rocket In A Wagon
By loading more performance into the wagon, Audi has propelled the Avant into a fine niche; those not keen on the bulky and over-popular SUV, but who wouldn’t mind the extra space.
Instead of providing a sedan with a big rear hanging on to its butt, Audi created a cool machine with the Avants, improving the look progressively since the first RS 2 Avant in 1994.
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The RS 4 Avant is a beneficiary of this thinking, honed since the turn of the millennium when the model was first launched, going through a big 4.2L, V8 engine before settling for the current 2.9L, V6 which delivers a more accomplished performance.
Weighing in 80kg less than its predecessor, it’s an otherwise larger car in terms of length, wheelbase and width. This benefits the occupants, certainly, but also gives it an even lower stance.
Given that it’s a wagon, after all, you can’t complain about the boot space. Kick open the boot by wiggling your foot under the bumper and the lid glides up presenting a generous space. Pop the rear seats down if you need more space, and it’s almost cavernous.
The sloping rear creates a sleeker profile, and perched on 20″ wheels for the local market, has a fetching look. Sitting low — 12mm lower than its predecessor), it almost resembles a big cat about to pounce. And that expectation is made evident in other design elements.
The quattro imprint on the front helps to set the tone, along with the large grille with the hexagonal design which is also on the air vents, slim Matrix LED headlights and oval tailpipes.
The polygonal motif is also stitched into the seats, fore and aft, and is part of an eclecticism of textures — alcantara, carbon fibre, leather, metal, lights and colours. There’s a sense of busy expectancy in the cabin.
Fire the V6 TFSI up and the beast is ready to pounce. But then the re-developed twin-turbo is well behaved. None of those unwarranted lurches that stress your joints with excessive G forces.
But the ability to rush, if required, is evident as the 331kW and 600Nm of torque are ready to deliver as this wagon flies from 0-100kmh in just over 4 seconds.
Geared For Performance
The 8-speed tiptronic is smooth but measured and the quattro permanent all-wheel drive delivers a steady and fuel-efficient ride. Attack the curves and it grips in with little effort showing, the RS-specific tuning of the sport differential delivering more driver engagement. In Dynamic mode, the growling exhaust tones adds to the experience as you effortlessly make your enjoyable way.
The low cenre of gravity and excellent dynamics evident from the exterior are played out as much on the move. The ride is never jarring or harsh, and pleasantly comfortable for the passengers. Could be a bit of a white-knuckle ride when it starts to gallop, or when you activate the dynamic starting function, but it always seems to be under control.
Bringing the RS 4 Avant to a halt is swift and smooth with the high-performance ceramic brakes performing to cue.
The connectivity is smooth, allowing your favourite songs to flow through the 19 speakers of the 755-watt 3D Bang & Olufsen sound system. Selection of entertaiment and guidance options are easily managed on the multi-function steering. A WI-Fi hotspot allows you to connect your mobile devices.
There is a slew of assistance systems (many standard) that help with: parking, cross traffic, blind spot bothers, and, most importantly, reminds you if you’ve forgotten to take your mobile phone when you’ve powered down.
The head-up display is certainly helpful, and in combination with the virtual cockpit, let’s you in on your driving experience. From G-forces to the tyre temperature, lap times and oil temperatures, it’s a lot to take in. So, best to keep your eye on the road, see what the head-up display has to say, and work the paddles to shift into the appropriate gear.
The practicality of the wagon, coupled with the grunt and power of a high-performance engine makes for quite a captivating experience.
So, if you need to compromise between an SUV and a sedan, then Audi’s RS 4 Avant is little rocket will hit all the right spots.
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AUDI RS 4 AVANT TECH SPECS
Engine: V6 DOHC Biturbo
Max Power: 331kW@5,700-6,700rpm
Max Torque: 600Nm@1,900-5,000rpm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic
VES Band: C2
Top Speed: 250kmh
Retail price: *$392,280
Please reconfirm price with dealer.
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