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Geneva show: Audi advances the Avant

Practical supercar: The blistering Audi RS4 Avant is set to hit Australian showrooms in early 2013.

Audi’s legendary RS4 Avant makes a comeback, this time with 331kW V8

15 Feb 2012

AUSTRALIA is line to get the latest incarnation of Audi’s fastest five-door family fun machine, the RS4 Avant quattro wagon, that the German company revealed today ahead of its public debut at the Geneva motor show next month.

The only top-shelf ‘RS’ model in the current A4 range, the new third-generation RS4 Avant is scheduled to touch down in Australia in early 2013, providing a cheaper and more practical alternative to the rip-roaring $175,300 Audi RS5 coupe.

According to Audi Australia general manager corporate communications Anna Burgdorf, RS4 is likely to be priced “no more expensive” than the previous RS4 Avant that was discontinued in 2008. Back then, the asking price was $168,100.

The five-seater RS4 is one of two A4 Avant niche models headed our way, with the crossover A4 Allroad scheduled to go on sale locally in the third quarter of this year.

The front of the new RS4 Avant is dominated by a sinister blacked-out grille and enlarged air openings in the front fascia underscored by a metallic-silver splitter, which is echoed at the back by a silver rear undertray incorporating twin big-bore exhaust pipe tips.

7 center imageLike the previous model, the new RS4 Avant is powered by Audi’s hand-built 4.2-litre FSI V8, but this time with an extra 22kW dollop of power, taking it to 331kW at an eye-watering 8250rpm – the same as the similarly equipped RS5.

Torque remains the same at 430Nm from 4000rpm to 6000rpm, churning all four wheels via Audi’s S-tronic seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and trademark quattro all-wheel drive system with a sports differential that can alter the torque split between the front and rear axles according to need.

The Avant can blast from zero to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds – 0.6 seconds faster than the seven-speed auto BMW M3 sedan but 0.1sec slower than the RS5.

Top speed is the usual governed 250km/h, but like its rivals, an optional kit will unlock greater velocity, up to 280km/h.

Squatting 20mm lower than the standard Avant on 19-inch alloy wheels with 265/35 tyres, the RS4 version gets lighter aluminium components on the five-link front suspension and trapezoidal link rear suspension.

The old hydraulic power steering makes way for a new electro-mechanical set-up, while stopping power is provided by 365mm front discs of an all-new lightweight design that shaves three kilos from the car’s mass while also dissipating heat more quickly.

Black-painted eight-piston callipers grasp the front discs, which can be upgraded to 380mm carbon-fibre ceramic stoppers at extra cost.

Fuel economy is a claimed 11 litres per 100km – superior to the 12.9L/100km of the auto M3.

Driving dynamics can be altered according to driver taste, with three modes – comfort, auto and dynamic – modifying the characteristics of the steering, transmission and throttle.

The black theme of the exterior trim and brake calipers is carried through into the all-black interior, where seats are clad in a combination of black leather and Alcantara.

If that is all a bit dark, customers can opt to lighten the mood with a ‘Moon Silver’ roof lining and seat upholstery in Nappa leather, along with optional metal-look inlays to replace the carbon-fibre look standard items.

The black is relieved with a number of chrome and brushed aluminium-look touches in the switchgear and pedals.

So far, Audi has given no word on RS4 versions of the A4 sedan and and cabrio in the current generation, as there was in the previous model.

Audi Australia will withhold pricing until closer to launch, but when it arrives in local showrooms, the RS4 is likely to be about twice the price of the current A4 Avant performance leader, the $75,500 2.0-litre TFSI quattro.

The first-generation V6 turbo RS4 Avant pioneered the hot-wagon format at Audi in the B5 range in 2000, with the V8 B7 generation appearing in Europe in 2006 before being launched in Australia in 2007.

At Geneva, the RS4 Avant will be unveiled alongside Audi’s special-edition Audi TT RS Plus – a higher performance version of Audi’s five-cylinder turbo TT RS sportscar.

The global RS4 Avant reveal – timed for 10am eastern summer time today – copped a spanner in the works when a Dutch web site published pictures early, precipitating an avalanche of copy cats.

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