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Future models - Audi - A4 - RS4 Avant

First look: Wraps are off RS4 wagon and cabrio

Express wagon: The RS4 Avant offers practicality and performance.

Newest sports offerings broaden Audi's buyer appeal

2 Mar 2006

AS AUDI prepares for its local launch of the scorching new RS4 sedan in April, Europe has just introduced the cabriolet and Avant versions.

Both share the sedan’s go-fast credentials, including the 313kW normally-aspirated 4.2-litre V8, quattro all-wheel drive with asymmetric/dynamic torque distribution and tied-down suspension, but add a little extra versatility aimed at broadening the RS4 customer base.

Although both the cabriolet and Avant get the same general exterior treatment including additional front air inlets, flared wheel arches, flared side sills, a rear apron with twin oval tailpipes and specific alloy wheels, the wagon also adds a subtle and functional rear roof spoiler.

All RS4s get Audi’s Dynamic Ride Control, while the suspension is set 30m lower than a regular A4, and both front and rear tracks are wider.

The Avant adds to its functional nature with a versatile load area that combines clever detailing – such as the smooth-surfaced, bulge-free inner side panels – a safety net for restraining small items and a low rear lip to facilitate easy loading.

A virtually level load area is created by folding down the split-fold rear seat.

A luggage cover and load guard are contained in a foldaway housing.

Inside, the cabriolet version sacrifices the wagon and sedan’s RS bucket seats in favour of less hard-core but more easily lived-with leather-trimmed “sports” seats.

The cabrio’s power-operated roof opens in a quick 21 seconds and can be operated at speeds up to 30km/h. The roof, Audi says, is also acoustically designed to set new standards for soft-tops, using new, higher-density materials and a cushion around the C-pillar that reduce noise levels close to those of the sedan model.

The cabriolet features standard front and side airbags, as well as rollover bars behind the rear seats.

But the heart of the new cabriolet and Avant RS4s – as in the sedan – lies in the pumped-up 4.2-litre V8.

Audi says this is the first time a manufacturer has combined petrol direct injection with high-revving characteristics.

7 center imageThe RS4’s V8 will spin as high as 8250rpm, breaking the 100bhp per litre mark that once was the guideline for highly developed race engines.

Maximum torque of 430Nm comes in at 5500rpm, and at least 90 per cent of that is available between 2250rpm and 7600rpm.

The RS4 sedan reaches 100km/h in 4.8 seconds, with the Avant and cabriolet a mere 10th of a second behind.

All three versions are speed-governed to 250km/h. RS4s use the latest-generation quattro permanent four-wheel drive, featuring an asymmetric/dynamic torque split of 40 (front axle) to 60 (rear axle) in conjunction with the Torsen self-locking centre differential.

The quattro system compliments Audi’s DRC (Dynamic Ride Control) suspension system, which reduces rolling and pitching, while the steering has been tuned for more direct response.

The six-speed manual gearbox, with its short-travel lever and precise movements, has been fiddled too.

All RS4s also get improved brakes, with the large 18-inch system ensuring optimum stopping power. The cross-drilled, inner-vented brake discs are 365mm in diameter at the front and 324mm at the rear.

Flow-optimised ventilation geometry incorporating Naca jets on the underfloor of the car ensures first-class brake cooling under all conditions.

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