Driven: Audi RS4 Avant (B8)
A first taste at the wheel of the new Audi RS4 Avant.
Sportiness and refinement, usability and exclusivity, RS Audis enjoy remarkable success and the new RS4 Avant (B8) seems poised to be no exception to that rule. The RS4 is a kind of home coming since it is one of the first major new cars which Asphalte covered during the winter 2006, 6 months after its foundation. The B7 type RS4, in the more rare sedan version, had impressed us. A brilliant, high revving engine and a sporty balance, courtesy of the newly adopted 40/60 torque split in the Quattro transmission made for a compelling package.
Nearly 7 years later to the day, we find the same direct injected V8 with 4163 cm3 of displacement. Peak torque remains unchanged at 430 Nm, but is achieved a useful 1500 rpm lower in the rev range. Peak power has climbed by 30hp to reach a handsome 450 PS at 8250 rpm. This powerplant will undoubtedly be the chorus note to seven wonderful years where large V8 were wedged under the hood of compact sedans. RS4, M3, C63, IS-F even, these models will remain in automotive history as monuments erected to celebrate the glory of the Octane Goddess, or depending on your point-of-view, dinosaurs on the brink of extinction, under eminent threat from the Downsizing meteor.
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A new car and limited time behind the wheel did not allow us to explore the peaks of the rev range, and giving an objective opinion on a fresh engine. We did not find the 4.2 liter FSI engine particularly muscular in the lower part of the rev range, a sensation confirmed by the study of the torque curve and its comparison with the 3.0L TFSI found in the S4 and S5 models. The torque deficit till 4000 rpm is clear: at 2000 rpm, the supercharged V6 has already reached 390 Nm while it will take the naturally aspirated V8 1000 rpm to achieve the same output. The gap gets even wider until the large V8 reaches its peak torque at 4000 rpm. We will wait for a more comprehensive test to articulate a more definitive opinion, but it seems unavoidable that the 4.2L will retain a more peakish delivery profile, requiring higher revs to pull the RS4 out of traffic or corners, a relative low light in the effortlessness one expects from this segment. Higher revs also have a consequence on gas mileage. We will only take the 16.1 L/100km (15.1 on the on board computer) as a vague indication, biased by the test conditions and internal frictions.