Audi's recipe for a powerful and practical car remains unadulterated in the RS4 Avant
Fast and formidable Audi RS4 The RS4 Avant's responsiveness goes from mellow to murderous in a measured fashion. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Among all of Audi's RS models, the RS4 has long been a favourite of many. The latest one will be no different.

From the second you take off in it, you feel a sense of well-being lacking in most monstrously powerful cars. And it does not matter if you are crawling in rush-hour traffic or accomplishing an imaginary quarter-mile sprint.
Available only as an Avant (Audi-speak for station wagon), the car has grown in stature but not in size. This gives it the practicality of a wagon - with more than 500 litres of stowage - without taking away the level of poise and balance which has made all RS4s so peachy.
While you may say it no longer has the gravitas of a beefy 4.2-litre V8 of a decade ago, the car's new 2.9-litre turbo V6 is in every way more capable, with more power, more torque.
Derived from the same unit which powers the less steroidal but equally charming S4, the stroke has been shortened by 3mm to cope with the greater forces it is now subjected to.
This makes it a slightly smaller engine than the S4 (2,894cc vs 2,995cc). But it has also made it a sweeter one. Its responsiveness goes from mellow to murderous in such a measured fashion, its throttle feels like it is fused to your right foot.
Price: $392,280 with COE
Engine: 2,894cc 24-valve V6 turbocharged
Transmission: Eight-speed Tiptronic with paddle shift
Power: 450hp at 5,700rpm
Torque: 600Nm at 1,900-5,000rpm
0-100kmh: 4.1 seconds
Top speed: 280kmh
Fuel consumption: 8.9 litres/100km
Paired with an eight-speed autobox with shorter low-gear and longer high-gear ratios than the S4's, the RS4 hurtles to 100kmh in 4.1 seconds.
That makes it a Porsche-rivalling machine, but in the real world, the Audi will even give far more accomplished nameplates a run for their money.
This goes back to that sense of well-being mentioned earlier. The RS4 is wonderfully effortless in the way it dispenses its power and in the way its chassis copes with that power.
Its rear-biased all-wheel-drive system, fortified further with torque vectoring and wider tracks than the S4's, makes the RS4 unshakeable. The recipe is not unique to Audi, of course, but the Ingolstadt marque has somehow made it more delectable in the RS4. The car is very quick, very fast and very confident.
As with its brethren, the car has a selection of drive modes. But the preferable way is to tug the gear lever to move from D to S.
In sport mode, the RS4 is happiest, singing a lovely tune that is loud enough to announce its arrival, but not enough to mar its civility. The trailing exhaust note is subtle and textured, with a quality that is natural and not synthesised. That, too, makes the RS4 endearing.
It shares the same relatively tight steering ratio as the S4, but the helm feels weightier. Compared with the previous RS4, it also feels more mechanical than electrical, with a level of assistance that is not in the least intrusive.
Its brakes are perfect - immensely strong and effective, but smooth and comfy at the same time.
This refinement extends to every inch of the car, helping to make it quite likable.
But will you like it enough to part with nearly $100,000 more than the S4?
It depends. The RS4 is a wagon, while the S4 is available as a saloon and wagon. The RS4 has a more muscular form, with bulging body panels, a lower ground clearance, more dramatic wheels and more amenities on board (sports seats with adjustable hip support and head-up display with lap timer, for instance).
Both cars handle equally well (the S4 saloon perhaps a tinge neater around tight corners), but the bigger RS4 is clearly more powerful and makes better music.
But the clincher for RS4 fans may well be the fact that it is an RS4.
From the second you take off in it, you feel a sense of well-being lacking in most monstrously powerful cars. And it does not matter if you are crawling in rush-hour traffic or accomplishing an imaginary quarter-mile sprint.

Available only as an Avant (Audi-speak for station wagon), the car has grown in stature but not in size. This gives it the practicality of a wagon - with more than 500 litres of stowage - without taking away the level of poise and balance which has made all RS4s so peachy.

While you may say it no longer has the gravitas of a beefy 4.2-litre V8 of a decade ago, the car's new 2.9-litre turbo V6 is in every way more capable, with more power, more torque.

Derived from the same unit which powers the less steroidal but equally charming S4, the stroke has been shortened by 3mm to cope with the greater forces it is now subjected to.

This makes it a slightly smaller engine than the S4 (2,894cc vs 2,995cc). But it has also made it a sweeter one. Its responsiveness goes from mellow to murderous in such a measured fashion, its throttle feels like it is fused to your right foot.

Paired with an eight-speed autobox with shorter low-gear and longer high-gear ratios than the S4's, the RS4 hurtles to 100kmh in 4.1 seconds.

That makes it a Porsche-rivalling machine, but in the real world, the Audi will even give far more accomplished nameplates a run for their money.

This goes back to that sense of well-being mentioned earlier. The RS4 is wonderfully effortless in the way it dispenses its power and in the way its chassis copes with that power.

Its rear-biased all-wheel-drive system, fortified further with torque vectoring and wider tracks than the S4's, makes the RS4 unshakeable. The recipe is not unique to Audi, of course, but the Ingolstadt marque has somehow made it more delectable in the RS4. The car is very quick, very fast and very confident.

As with its brethren, the car has a selection of drive modes. But the preferable way is to tug the gear lever to move from D to S.

In sport mode, the RS4 is happiest, singing a lovely tune that is loud enough to announce its arrival, but not enough to mar its civility. The trailing exhaust note is subtle and textured, with a quality that is natural and not synthesised. That, too, makes the RS4 endearing.

It shares the same relatively tight steering ratio as the S4, but the helm feels weightier. Compared with the previous RS4, it also feels more mechanical than electrical, with a level of assistance that is not in the least intrusive.

Its brakes are perfect - immensely strong and effective, but smooth and comfy at the same time.

This refinement extends to every inch of the car, helping to make it quite likable.

But will you like it enough to part with nearly $100,000 more than the S4?

It depends. The RS4 is a wagon, while the S4 is available as a saloon and wagon. The RS4 has a more muscular form, with bulging body panels, a lower ground clearance, more dramatic wheels and more amenities on board (sports seats with adjustable hip support and head-up display with lap timer, for instance).

Both cars handle equally well (the S4 saloon perhaps a tinge neater around tight corners), but the bigger RS4 is clearly more powerful and makes better music.

But the clincher for RS4 fans may well be the fact that it is an RS4.