It was some challenge but I managed it: packing my wife, my kids and all our gear into the Audi RS4 Avant on the driveway. I even managed to get my gear for a day’s shooting in too!
One thousand comfortable and economical miles at 30mpg later, I made an unfeasibly large heap of wetsuits, bodyboards and tweeds in the hall as I emptied it out again. And then, despite having spent so much time in the damn thing I could swear I’ve now got four rings embossed on my back, I got back in and drove it again – but on my own.
As I type, the hairs on the back of my neck are still standing up thanks to the way the Audi RS4 Avant’s hand-built 4.2 litre V8 howled its way to its 8,250rpm red line. And my bloodstream is still full of adrenaline thanks to the sort of pace with which the last Ferrari I drove would have struggled to keep up.
The quick Audi estate is nothing new, indeed the deeply desirable RS2 Avant debuted in 1994, but they have really hit a patch of form since the introduction of that high-revving V8 in 2006. So popular are they that a shooting chum of mine, who really could buy whatever car he wanted, still moans about ever letting his go – really good examples can still fetch over £30,000, six years later.
The Audi RS4 Avant’s automatic dual clutch gearbox instantaneously shifts between seven gears.
The Audi RS4 Avant is only available in estate format, and only with an automatic gearbox hooked up to its four-wheel drive system. If you think that sounds dull, snap out of it. Its gearbox is one of those fabulous dual clutch jobs that instantaneously shifts between its seven gears, and the engine management system allows rev-perfect blips on down changes. The four-wheel drive system and extremely clever differentials on the Audi RS4 Avant, as well as its 56/44 weight distribution, give it fantastic traction without ever feeling ponderously nose-heavy like most of this car’s forebears.
There’s enough room in the boot of an Audi RS4 Avant for family and sporting holidays.
And the estate format has always been the way to go with these types of cars. Even if you aren’t looking to chuck your labradors in the back, they have always been the only socially acceptable form of performance car of this size.
The saloons always look a little too like the repmobiles on which they are based, whereas the estates give off a vibe of just being on your way kite-surfing, skiing or even shooting. Speaking of which, despite the four-wheel drive, I wouldn’t recommend actually trying to get to your peg in it as that grip and poise comes courtesy of a very low ground clearance and even lower profile tyres.
It is the blend of practicality and performance that really marks the Audi RS4 Avant out. It’s a comfortable, roomy, economical and well-equipped estate car, the kind that if you open taps fully at 20mph in fourth gear has hit 120mph less than half a mile later.
Either set of qualities would make the Audi RS4 Avant a good car. To have both in one £60,000 package makes this a great one.
Specifications for the Audi RS4 Avant 4.2 FSI V8 450PS S Tronic
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 4.7 seconds
C02 emission: 249g/km
Ben Samuelson is the managing director of PR and events agency Samuelson Wylie Associates. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/bensamuelson