Tested: Audi's new RS4 is impressive, but lacks drama

Published May 31, 2019


Johannesburg - Audi's latest RS4 Avant has finally landed in South Africa, nearly two years since it first broke cover at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Now sporting a “small capacity” 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 with direct-injection and running a torque convertor instead of an S-tronic box, the RS4 is able to run with 911s and M5s.

But has it lost its charm in this race to be king of the traffic lights grand prix?

Blisteringly quick

The RS4 storms on to the market with 331kW on tap. Now, you will be quick to point out this is exactly the same amount of grunt that the old V8 developed at the flywheel and you’d be correct.

Power stays the same, but torque jumps from 430Nm to 600Nm. The car also makes its peak torque much earlier in the rev range (1900rpm) giving it the kind of standing-start surge that’s more akin to all-wheel drive AMGs than Audi RS cars.

Zero to 100km/h takes a claimed 4.1 seconds, but on a cold enough morning, with enough heat in the tyres, there’s no doubt this car will break into the sub-four second bracket. And, if insanely quick acceleration isn’t enough for you, then how about a top speed of 280km/h, with the right options boxes ticked, of course?

There’s no doubting that the new RS4 is fast.

Lacks drama

Going fast has always been part of the RS4’s persona. And when the car ran V8 motors there was an amazingly awesome feeling and a sense of mechanical drama when chasing 8500rpm.

The older manual V8s, in particular, were a gem to stir, while the S-tronic previous gen cars just popped, crackled and banged in all the right places.

This new RS4 lacks that charm, even though there is a sports exhaust to give it a bit of enhanced rumble in Dynamic mode. In fact, on a cold start-up, the V6 sounds particularly diesel-like at idle insert sad face emoji here.

The car won’t blow you away if you are used to high-revving powerhouse engines.

Yes, the first few full-bore acceleration runs will take your breath away, but once you get a bit tired of stomping on the accelerator from the lights there’s not much excitement from under the hood.

So much style

Ok, so now that we’ve sort of established that the new RS4 isn’t as exciting to drive as the old car, it’s time to praise the fact that the inside of the car is one of the best places to be in the premium segment.

Sure, Audi have mounted the Drive Select button on the wrong side of the centre console for our right-hooker market, but for everything else it’s a class act. The standard sports bucket seats are shapely enough to hold you in place, but soft enough to ensure you won’t need a chiropractor after a drive from Jozi to Durbs.

Space is ample, with enough in the boot for at least four medium-sized dogs and the rear bench easily accommodates ISOFIX child seats.

You’ll also get all the luxury features you’d expect in a premium car of this nature, but on top of this you also get three-zone climate control (as an option), a digital instrument cluster as standard and a panoramic glass roof (optional).

Compared to the older RS4s, the new car simply thumps them on quality, feel, fit and finish. Our car came with Apple CarPlay compatibility and a decent audio system too.

Should I buy it?

Yes. Although it’s not as entertaining to engage with as its V8 predecessor, the new V6 twin-turbo RS4 is a fantastically engineered car.

My colleague and I carried on about the turbo engine lacking drama and character, but it does have its own charm (some turbo whooshes and some ever so slight induction sound).

It’s an excellent family car that mitigates the need to jump into a high-performance SUV, with loads of space.

If you buy one, you’ll also get a five-year/100000km maintenance plan to ensure fuss-free motoring for the next half decade. Prices start at R1 211 500.


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