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First drive: Aussies queue for Audi RS4 Avant

Loads of power: With 331kW and 430Nm on tap from its screaming 4.2-litre V8, the Audi RS4 Avant has the poke to carry a family and its luggage with ease.

Audi undercuts RS5 coupe with more practical but equally brutal RS4 Avant wagon

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Audi logo15 Feb 2013

AROUND 60 Australians have already placed pre-orders for the new RS4 Avant, the latest in a line of tyre-shredding Audi performance wagons that officially goes on sale today for a surprisingly low $149,400 plus on-road costs.

That is $18,700 less than the previous RS4 and $12,000 less than the comparatively impractical RS5 coupe with which it shares its mechanicals, including a fire-breathing 4.2-litre naturally aspirated V8.

In the five years since the last RS4 was sold in Australia, Audi has developed the hand-built V8 to produce an extra 22kW – now 331kW at a barely believable 8250rpm – while torque output remains at 430Nm, developed between 4000rpm and 6000rpm.

The previous model was exclusively sold with a six-speed manual transmission and Audi now fits a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic unit with paddle-shifters as standard.

As a result, 0-100km/h comes up in 4.7 seconds, two tenths quicker than the previous model and a tenth slower than the RS5 coupe, while combined fuel consumption of 10.7 litres per 100 kilometres is a 21 per cent improvement.

The RS4 Avant’s only direct competitor is the $6500 more expensive Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Estate, which cracks 0-100km/h in a quicker 4.5 seconds but the larger, more powerful and torquier 358/600Nm 6.2-litre V8 is also thirstier, at 12.3L/100km.

Of course the RS4 Avant packs a quattro all-wheel-drive system that by default sends 60 per cent of engine output to the rear axle, with up to 85 per cent going to the back or 70 per cent to the front where required.

A sports rear differential actively directs torque to the wheel with most traction – rather than braking individual wheels as used on some electronic systems – and responds to the Audi Drive Select setting, for example enabling sharper turn-in when Dynamic mode is activated.

Beefed-up suspension with numerous aluminium components ties everything down with a 20mm lower ride height, while adaptive suspension including hydraulically linked dampers that reduce body roll is available for an extra $4400, or packaged with 20-inch wheels of varying design and a sports exhaust with black tailpipes for $7200.

Behind the standard 19-inch wheels are some serious brakes, with black eight-piston front callipers and 365mm discs that have wavy edges to save weight while aiding cooling – unless upgraded with the 380mm ceramic front rotors for $13,500.

The electro-mechanical steering can be upgraded to a $2300 variable-ratio system that alters depending on the Drive Select mode, for a slower ratio during highway cruising and a more direct feel when attacking a set of corners.

Some restraint has been applied to the styling of this flagship sports variant of the A4 wagon, with the main cues being blistered wheel-arches that recall the original Audi Quattro, while gaping functional intakes on the front bumper, a rear diffuser and large oval tail-pipes serve as traditional RS hallmarks.

Standard equipment highlights include sat-nav, a 10-speaker audio system with six-channel amplifier, subwoofer, 20GB for media storage and Bluetooth audio streaming, front and rear parking sensors with reversing camera, an electric tailgate, adaptive Xenon headlights, keyless entry and start and metallic or pearl paint.

The interior is fitted with electrically adjustable sports seats with memory and Nappa leather upholstery, a flat-bottomed sports steering wheel and carbon-fibre trim. Heated front seats is $800 extra.

For $4700 the RS4 can be fitted with race-style manually-adjustable but heated RS bucket front seats with adjustable bolstering (the option also deletes the side airbags and reduces interior storage and rear legroom).

Adaptive cruise control with lane keeping assistance and forward collision mitigation costs $1800, blind spot monitoring is $1200, a panoramic sunroof is $2850, rear privacy glass is $950, a stealth-look black exterior styling pack is $1050 and extra aluminium-look exterior trim costs $1400.

Audi sold 321 of the previous-generation RS4 in Australia between 2006 and 2008, across sedan, cabrio and Avant wagon body styles.

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