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New Audi RS4 Avant The Real World Super Car.

Let’s get the engine discussion out the way nice and early. The previous-generation Audi RS4 Avant had a rip-roaring, free-breathing V8 – but the latest rapid wagon is another victim of Audi’s downsizing, turboing trend. This B9-generation iteration of the mighty RS4 has succumbed to the bandwagon with a 2.9-litre twin-turbocharged V6 – the same unit fitted to its RS5 coupe cousins.

Even the facelifted 2020 model year version we’ve sampled recently continues with the same engine, although the gearbox has been refined to improve driveability – more on that later.

Fear not, though it’s not all bad. Despite having 1269 fewer cc of displacement at its disposal, the V6 packs near-enough the same power output as the retired bent eight block (444bhp) and a whopping 125lb ft more torque, while – most significantly – generating a quarter less CO2 on the test cycle, and eking impressive fuel efficiency. Hardly shabby.

This latest RS4 is slimmer than the previous version, and much of the weight-saving can be attributed to the downsized engine; it weighs 31kg less than the preceding 4.2-litre V8. A hearty saving. For the 2020 makeover it shed a further 45kg, largely by reducing some of the sound material.

How fast is it? Audi RS4 performance pored over

Rejoice! The RS4 is 0.6sec quicker than its predecessor from 0-62mph, at 4.1sec (two tenths slower than the lighter RS5) and tops out at 174mph, if you opt for the flagship Vorsprung model (or spec the optional RS Dynamic package on pre-facelift cars). Otherwise, it’s electronically limited to 155mph as standard. It feels every inch that fast on the road.

Static photo Color: Tango red

As the Quattro badges and oh-so-cool squared-bulged wheelarches suggest, all-wheel drive is standard, shuffling the torque split front to rear as required. During typical driving it’s divided 40:60 front:rear, with as much as 85 per cent of torque directed to the front or 70 per cent to the rear as the system detects wheel slip. We tested the RS4 on a variety of slippery and loose surfaces and it coped with imperious ease. Traction is first-rate.

Do you even lift, bro?

It has to be said, the RS4 has far more presence in real life than it does in pictures – those arches punch out an extra 24mm in width compared with the standard A4 Avant and sits 30mm lower. Those giant oval exhaust outlets manage to make it look lower as well as wider. The dark vents flanking the tail-lights aren’t actually real, disappointingly, but help to add even more visual width.

Audi reckons its wide-arched shape draws design inspiration from the Audi 90 IMSA GTO (check it out in our gallery here) – a good thing to draw inspiration from, even if it’s probably not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you look at the RS4.

How’s the Audi RS4’s interior?

As per the regular A4, cabin fit and finish is hard to fault, and judicious use of aluminium and Alcantara trim helps lift the ambience a little. If you step from an A8 into the A4, it is beginning to look like it’s not quite latest-spec, particularly with its freestanding multimedia screen, but this is still one of the nicest cabins around.

The now well-established digital Virtual Cockpit TFT instrument panel sits behind the wheel, with extra RS-specific displays available such as boost pressure, tyre pressures, power and torque output, and a G-meter which is probably the last thing you should be looking at while you’re cornering at any kind of meaningful g.