DROP the kids off a school, grab some groceries and then pop into the local race track and lay down some laps. This is the wonderful world of Audi's RS4 Avant.
Don't let those refined lines and wagon shape fool you. Behind the domestic cloak is a ranging beast. It has acceleration to make pure sports cars blush, with power outputs higher than your range-topping HSV or FPV.
Yet there is a catch to this persuasive and alluring package - a price-tag of $150K plus on-roads. For that coin you can rightfully expect exclusively, and Audi has hopes of selling about 80 annually.
Oh, and for the record, the RS moniker stands for Renn Sport, or race sport.
From the outside the RS4 looks relatively sedate, yet things go up a notch once inside.
While not extravagant with bling and sporting touches, the supportive Nappa leather-clad seats with RS4 embossing, carbon inlays and a brilliant flat-bottom sports steering wheel is enough to inspire the driver within. The fit and finish is befitting the asking price. Soft touch materials are the weapon of choice in an interior which has ample space for the family.
Those who get the middle pew in the back do have to deal with transmission tunnel, yet there is enough space for three adults - but it would be tight. Up front there are two cup holders in the centre console (one can adapt for a larger bottle), while there are also two in the back flip-down armrest.
On the road
Just because you have a family doesn't mean you have to give up the performance ride. This thing is nothing short of outstanding.
It turns like it's on rails, the acceleration is blistering and the symphonic V8 note is intoxicating. From the lights very few will keep up…the RS4 can hammer from standstill to 100kmh in an incredible 4.7 seconds. Rip into a bend and the all-wheel drive system struts its stuff with tenacious grip.
The steering is beautifully weighted which generates plenty of confidence for changes in direction. There are a range of driving modes at your disposal, including comfort for most conditions, an individualised set-up for the boy-racer and the ultra-sharp dynamic. Selecting dynamic mode does compromise the ride, it's pretty firm, yet the odd bump is a small price to pay for this athleticism. Comfort does a surprisingly good job of ironing out our poor road surfaces.
What do you get?
The complementary features are befitting a $150,000 offering. Highlights include a flat-bottom sports steering wheel, 19-inch alloys, drive select with sports differential, 20GB hard drive stereo with Bluetooth audio streaming and phone connectivity, carbon inlays, front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera, Xenon headlights which corner with you and keyless entry with push button start.
There's also the full complement in terms of safety, but the stability control functionality has been configured with a dynamic edge.
Yes, it has a psychotic personality, but there is plenty of sensibleness about the RS4 too. The little cherubs have plenty of room in the back, while the cargo capacity is 490 litres with the rear seats raised and 1430 litres with them down.
Hefty use of the right foot does come at a pump price. The RS4 will slurp more than 10 litres for every 100km, but much more than that if you become addicted to that acceleration sound…and you will.
Insurance wouldn't be cheap, and neither would the replacement rubber.
Finding company in this genre is difficult, there's always the larger Porsche Panamera AWD ($213,500), Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 Shooting Brake ($173,000) or probably its closest rival the Mercedes-Benz C63 Estate ($155,900).
While wagon in guise, there are some clues to its ability.
The pumped out wheel arches, low profile tyres, dual exhaust and the massive brake discs and calipers are hints, but in typical Audi fashion its understated performance.
Our test car had the Dynamic sports package, which included the brilliant 20-inch five-arm alloys.
Here's your wolf in sheep's clothing.
The wagon shape will lull many into thinking it's just a sporty looking European offering.
Prod the right pedal and its true personality shines.
Downshifts are accompanied by a wonderful note with some racy V8 crackle, but its blistering performance is achieved with amazing finesse and without wheel-spin, tyre squealing or extraverted plastics.
What matters most
The good stuff: Amazing exhaust soundtrack and downshifts, tenacious grip, sporty interior, raw power.
What we'd like to see: Better fuel economy - but we're nitpicking here considering the performance, a healthier bank balance so we could have one.
Warranty and servicing: Three year/unlimited kilometre warranty with roadside assist (option to extend). Servicing is every 15,000km or 12 months.
Model: Audi RS4 Avant.
Details: Five-door mid-size all-wheel drive luxury performance wagon.
Engine: 4.2-litre V8 generating maximum power of 331kW @ 8250rpm and peak torque of 430Nm @ 4000-6000rpm.
Transmission: Seven-speed dual clutch automatic.
Consumption: 10.7 litres/100km.
Performance: 0-100kmh in 4.7 seconds.
Bottom line: $149,400 plus on-roads. Tested with sports suspension and Dynamic package ($7200).
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