Aston Martin celebrates its 100th anniversary with a radical one-off concept car
Audi RS4 saloon review (2006-2008)
Image © Audi
Model: Audi RS4
Bodystyle: 4dr saloon
Engine: 4.2 V8, petrol
Transmission: 6–speed manual
What is it?
The RS4 is simply the most powerful compact saloon car on the market. It’s 4.2-litre V8 has been developed to produce a staggering 420bhp, and that’s without any turbocharging or supercharging. There’s quattro four-wheel-drive, 19 inch double spoke alloys and the full sports interior which includes some mean RS bucket seats if you tick the right option box. The RS4 is also available in Avant (estate car) and Cabriolet form. Prices start at the wrong side of £50k and that’s before you start on the optional extras. Pricey? Certainly, but then it will reach 62mph in 4.8 seconds.
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Where does it fit?
The RS4 sits, obviously, at the very pinnacle of the A4 range, with direct rivals thin on the ground. The obvious competitor is BMW’s M3, but at the time of writing that is not available in the latest body shape; when it comes it too will have a V8 rather than the straight sixes of the past. With rear-wheel-drive the M3 promises a different driving experience to the RS4. £50k also buys you a very nice A6, thank you, or even an A8, so you need to be very focussed on the performance angle to choose the RS4. £12K cheaper is the Audi S4, same engine but ‘just’ 340bhp.
Is it for you?
A strength of the RS4 is its subtlety. If you pick the right colour (which means not the Imola Yellow of our test car) it’s a very discrete performance package. There are signs for those that know about these things that this is a very special Audi A4, but it’s not overtly brash in the way that so many BMW M3s seem to end up. Of course, there will be those that prefer everyone to know how much they have spent on their car so the RS4 may not be for them. And there will always be those who prefer rear-wheel-drive to the quattro system.
What does it do well?
This is a stunningly accomplished performance machine. It’s a straightforward procedure to extract 80 to 90% of the cars capabilities without the need for extraordinary driving skill. Of course you will run into serious trouble very quickly indeed unless you are circumspect, but there is an able stability control system to keep the car in shape and the four-wheel-drive ensures massive levels of grip. It’s a sharp drive too, with firm, weighty steering and very precise turn-in on corners.
What doesn’t it do well?
Not much really. The RS4 does tend to bog down on quick getaways off the line. The tyres don’t spin which means there's more inertia for the engine to overcome. Or you can slip the clutch longer than is wise, which certainly does the trick short term. The ride is, naturally, very firm, but at the same time it is surprisingly subtle and never proves uncomfortable. The Xenon headlights do their best to dazzle oncoming traffic worse than usual.
What’s it like to live with?
There’s not much room in the rear of the RS4, which is partly the fault of the massive Recaro front seats. But it is very comfortable for four once they are in place, even though bruises are possible from the hard sides of the front seats as you drop down into the car. This Audi is a surprisingly sublime experience in normal town traffic, with few of the difficulties you might expect of a vehicle with genuine supercar performance. The driving position has plenty of adjustment, the controls are easy and everything falls readily to hand. Cup holders are in short supply, though.
How green is it?
Forget it. We got 16mpg from our first tank full, which meant the tank was dry in 200 miles. On a long motorway run you might squeeze 25mpg but the reality is you buy an RS4 for its performance, and if you use it, you’ll pay. Don’t expect much better from the cheaper S4 either. CO2 levels are through the roof.
Would we buy it?
Price and running costs aside, the Audi RS4 is an addictive motor car to own. Although we pitched direct rivals as the BMW M3 and other Audi’s, the RS4 also makes an extremely strong case for itself to Porsche 911 owners who need something more practical. They certainly won’t lose out on performance and driving excitement, and the high costs won’t worry them either.
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