Audi has released pictures of the lightly breathed-on RS 4 Avant for 2020. There’s new front styling – honest – and the overall look emphasises the car of two halves that the estate RS 4 has always been.
Smooth side lines and gracefully flared arches are set against brutalist front grille and vent angles, angry wheel designs and two exhaust tips that would pass the fist test in a herd of elephants. You wouldn’t necessarily call the overall effect pretty, but it’s purposeful without going over the top.
Set to make its public debut at the close of the DTM racing season in a couple of days, the car carries-over the familiar 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 from the previous model. Blessed with 444bhp and 443lb ft from a hot vee layout, where the turbos sit inside the banks of cylinders, it throws peak torque at all four wheels between 1900 and 5000rpm, making it both linear and devastatingly brisk.
Each of the two turbos boosts its own cylinder bank, making tuning balance crucial if you ever modify it. On the other end of the engine an eight-speed tiptronic automatic gearbox sends 60 per cent of the muscle to the rear via a totally mechanical centre differential. Nice. Up to 85 per cent of the shove can go to the back axle at need, or 70 per cent to the front.
The whole engine weighs a reasonable 182kg, Audi says, which is 31kg less than the non-turbo V8 of the 2012 car. That helps with handling and general agility, facets that are further aided by standard brake-based torque vectoring and an optional rear-axle quattro sport differential, which mechanically forces more torque to the outside rear wheel.
Performance is pretty strong. The hot wagon will launch to 62mph in 4.1 seconds and smash enthusiastically into the 155mph speed limiter. Spec the RS dynamic package and the limiter gets lifted to 174mph.
Avoid the RS-specific ‘dynamic steering’ like the plague; the ratio-altering setup works on paper but not in the real world. Stick to the standard electromechanical system and relax – you’ve got sticky 265/35R19 tyres beneath you as standard. Optionally you can bump those up to 20s in 270/30 profile, but all sets give everyone else a good look at the 375mm composite brake discs gripped by six-piston RS brake calipers. Annoyingly you have to pay extra to have those in red. A further option is for RS ceramic brake discs measuring 400mm across. Y,know, because humblebrags.
Inside it’s an existing formula. The cabin is built around a 10.1-inch MMI display angled towards the driver. There’s a suite of RS-specific readouts from g-forces to live torque output. A head-up display is an option, while a new RS Mode button is standard. The idea is that drivers can customise two modes – RS1 and RS2 – using the regular Audi Drive Select parameters, and then access them quickly via RS Mode. We’d treat it as a shortcut to our ‘shopping’ and ‘empty-road weekend blast’ modes.
Despite being an Avant, this hot RS 4 isn’t especially big inside. The boot measures 495 litres, over 100 litres behind the boot you get in a Golf estate, but you can blame the awesome all-wheel drive mechanicals for some of what it gives away in space. Maximum space is 1495 litres with the seats folded.
We’re not sure how we feel right now about the new ‘curb (kerb) warning’ feature. We’re sure we’d be glad of it if we were the driver, but there’s a part of us that thinks you should simply be able to park properly without damaging your car. The feature comes as part of “more than 30” driver assist features like automatic emergency braking and lane-change warnings.
New colours have arrived with the new face. The new flat shade of blue is called Turbo, while a fetching metallic red is known as Tango. You can also specify Nogaro Blue in pearl effect – a variation of the same shade that graced the Porsche-fettled RS 2 Avant in 1994.