After a long hiatus, the second generation RS4, now built on Audi’s "B7" A4 platform, became available to European customers in the Summer of 2005, and will arrive in the Spring of 2006 in North America. Price is roughly 66,629 Euro, $78,000 USD or Â£48,000 GBP.
The B7 RS4 is an almost complete departure from previous RS cars, as it will debut as a sedan, with an Avant version coming later; only the RS6 has gone this route before, the previous RS4 and RS2 were available only as Avants. In addition, power comes from an FSI equipped, naturally aspirated 4.2 litre V8, whereas all previous RS cars have been turbocharged. Nonetheless, this engine is very powerful, producing a total output of 420 Horsepower. Audi factory numbers indicate that the vehicle will be able to go 0-62 MPH (100 km) in 4.8 seconds, although Audi’s factory times tend to be conservative, and most experts seem to agree that a time under 4.5 seconds is a likely possiblity.
BMW’s upcoming, V8 powered M3 will be the RS4’s primary competition based on its pricepoint and it being the only other vehicle in the class with as much emphasis on sporty driving as the RS4. Mercedes Benz’s AMG variant of the C-Class (currently the C55 AMG) is generally regarded as being competition to the lesser S4. According to speculation, the new M3 will be approx. 150 pounds lighter than the RS4, although preliminary specs indicate that it will have 20 fewer horsepower and less torque combined with a narrower powerband.
New dimensions in driving dynamics combined with innovative ideas – plus exciting styling and a level of equipment that lives up to even luxury-class standards: the new Audi RS 4 combines the latest high-performance product from quattro GmbH in a thoroughbred sports saloon with supreme everyday driving qualities in the premium segment. The RS 4 is the new top-of-the-range model in the A4 series, a development all-new from the ground up.
Numerous technical innovations – many of which hail from motorsport – give the new Audi RS 4 its unique class and character. These features include the high-revving concept now being introduced for the first time in a production Audi, innovative FSI technology, as well as the latest generation of quattro drive with asymmetric/dynamic torque distribution. Developing a maximum output of 420 bhp, the V8 revs up to a speed of 8,250 rpm.
With its displacement of 4,163 cc, this outstanding engine breaks through the magic barrier for a production saloon of 100 bhp per litre. The highly compact power unit reaches its peak torque of 430 Nm (317 lbs-ft) at 5,500 rpm. 90 percent of the total torque is available between 2,250 and 7,600 rpm. The result is excellent pulling power at all times, enabling the driver to drive in a relaxed style without frequent gear changes.
Audi’s RS 4 saloon employs groundbreaking FSI technology. The petrol direct-injection unit delivers enhanced power output based on more efficient combustion of the fuel/air mixture. The engine is also responsive. The performance of the RS 4 clearly demonstrates these enhancements: it reaches the 100 km/h (60 mph) mark in 4.8 seconds, and 200 km/h (124 mph) in 16.6 seconds. Top speed is limited electronically to 250 km/h (155 mph).
The RS 4 features racing technology in plain clothes. While many of its features look similar to the new Audi A4, the RS 4 is far more than just a fast derivative of Audi’s successful mid-size saloon. The car is an almost entirely brand-new development tailored to the highest performance requirements.
The single-frame radiator grille, the rear end with its distinctly horizontal styling and the sculpted sides all prove that the RS 4 is truly a member of the A4 family. However, the radiator grille in diamond look, the additional air inlets in the front end as well as wheels developed specifically for the RS 4 clearly differentiate the car from a standard Audi A4. The newly designed rear apron encompassing two large tailpipes as well as the discreet but effective spoiler integrated into the boot lid and the rear side panels all bear clear testimony to the saloon’s dynamic potential.
Compared with the Audi A4, the car’s trim has been lowered by 30 millimetres. The developers have also widened the front and rear track, resulting in a widening of the vehicle body. However, all these modifications to the body of the car are not only significant in terms of design, they are also functional in character.
Inside, the RS 4 combines the functionality of a sports car with the luxurious ambience so typical of all Audi models. Leather, aluminium, and carbon are the predominant materials. But at the same time the RS 4 comes with all the additional qualities typical of a genuine sports car.
This becomes clear as soon as you sit in it. The RS bucket seats, with their high side sections, offer firm hold. They also have an additional feature. By pressing buttons on the seat the side sections can be inflated to mould perfectly to the driver’s anatomy. The flat-bottomed RS sports steering wheel and the engine start button on the centre console are also clearly reminiscent of motorsport, as indeed are the aluminium pedals.
The Sport button on the steering wheel delivers even more dynamic performance when required. The accelerator characteristic changes progressively, so the engine is perceived to respond sooner. A flap in the exhaust system opens to provide the RS 4 with an even sportier sound. As an additional feature, the side sections of the bucket seats are inflatable. This enhances the side hold. The steering wheel also provides buttons to operate the driver information system.
The engine is key to the quality of any sports car. In the new RS 4, quattro GmbH has placed its trust in a compact V8 unit featuring petrol direct injection. In the 420 bhp high-revving eight-cylinder engine, FSI technology has reached a new highpoint. In this top product of what is a still young yet already highly successful technology, the petrol is injected directly into the combustion chamber, resulting in a uniform fuel/air mixture. Thanks to the cooling effect of the directly injected fuel, Audi’s development engineers have at the same time been able to increase the engine’s compression ratio.
The result is an even more efficient combustion process and, consequently, an even higher power output. This is demonstrated most clearly in the engine’s more spontaneous responsiveness. Thanks to this technically highly sophisticated injection method, optimum power output is produced in every driving situation.
FSI technology is already deployed in the world’s most successful racing car, the Audi R8, winner of the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours race no less than four times in the last five years alone (to mention just some of the car’s outstanding achievements). The figures illustrate the outstanding potential of the eight-cylinder unit. At 7,800 rpm the 4.2 litre engine delivers 420 bhp of power output. Peak torque is 430 Newtonmetres at 5,500 rpm. And no less than 90 per cent of this maximum torque is maintained consistently throughout a wide range of engine speed from 2,250 all the way to 7,600 rpm. Performance on the road is naturally equally impressive: the RS 4 accelerates to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds and reaches 200 km/h in 16.6 seconds. At 250 km/h the vehicle’s speed is smoothly limited by an electronic control system.
Audi has deployed the high-revving engine principle for the first time in the RS 4. The maximum engine speed is 8,250 rpm. The significant advantages of this principle are superior power output at high engine speeds and a smooth, eager responsiveness all across the revs range. Further fortes are the car’s outstanding agility and fast-revving response as well as the kind of racing-style engine sound drivers of such cars expect. As a result of these qualities, the eight-cylinder power unit provides maximum thrust and performance in virtually all driving situations.
The V8 power unit is ultra-compact in its dimensions, fitting snugly into the engine compartment of the RS 4 without requiring any modifications to the body. The camshaft and ancillaries, with the exception of the alternator, are all driven by a chain for easy maintenance. An all-new development, features of the eight-cylinder unit powering the RS 4 include modified pistons and conrods, a new crankshaft together with its bearings, and new cylinder heads. A twin exhaust system with enlarged pipes provides even higher power output. These extensive measures enabled the 4,163 cc engine to break through the magical 100 bhp per litre barrier.
The car’s power-to-weight ratio is also impressive: 3.93 kg per bhp is a figure only the most thoroughbred sports cars were able to offer just a few years ago. It goes without saying that the V8 featuring FSI technology complies with the Euro 4 emissions standard.
Getting all this power on to the road was of course a significant challenge. Audi’s answer is – of course – its quattro permanent four-wheel drive system. A quarter of a century’s experience and market leadership in the four-wheel drive car segment represent genuine benefits for Audi’s customers. The RS 4 features a new generation of quattro drive with asymmetric/dynamic torque distribution.
A Torsen centre differential distributes the power to the front and rear wheels as required, thereby ensuring optimum traction. In variable road conditions the power can be immediately diverted in full to the front or rear depending on the torque. The new distribution system, which under normal road conditions transmits 40 percent of the power to the front wheels and 60 percent to the rear, makes the Audi RS 4 an even more impressively dynamic drive. Alongside traction, controllability, stability, load reversal and transitioning, aspects of agility and steering have also been substantially enhanced, underscoring the highly sporty character of the car.
The term “Torsen” comes from “torque” and “sense” which, taken together, quite literally means “sensing the development and build-up of torque”. The Torsen differential is a self-locking worm gear. Thus the locking action is only prompted under the influence of the drive train. On braking and cornering the gearbox does permit differences in engine speed, however.
The rear axle differential is fitted with additional cooling fins. This is Audi’s response to the high loads to which the RS 4 may be subjected. Ensuring very short gearshift travel, the six-speed gearbox combines compact dimensions with low weight and a high standard of shift comfort. Adapted to the power unit of the RS 4, the gearing provides excellent power yield in practice, conveying the output of the engine to the driven wheels of the car with maximum efficiency.
Premium quality typical of Audi and the levels of genuine sportiness typical of an RS model are combined in harmony in the interior of the RS 4. As soon as you sit in it, you know that you are in a true sports car.
The bucket seats, with their high side sections, provide excellent lateral support. The side sections can be inflated individually by means of two buttons on the seat or by pressing the Sport button on the steering wheel, and thus fit themselves perfectly to the driver’s anatomy. Pressing the Sport button also modifies the characteristic line of the accelerator, producing a more graduated engine response. Moreover, the exhaust sound has been modified to make it even sportier. The RS bucket seats are available either in full leather throughout or in a combination of leather and cloth. Sports seats are available as an option.
Attention to detail is demonstrated in the choice of materials and the workmanship applied in processing them. Leather, aluminium and carbon are the predominant materials in the interior. The flat-bottomed RS steering wheel, developed exclusively for the Audi RS 4, is covered in perforated leather. Carbon-fibre trim inside the car serves to additionally accentuate the sporting qualities of the RS 4. A range of further trim options are also available: Piano finish black, Fine grain myrtle nutmeg and Aluminium matt. A further detail is the design of the milled aluminium door openers, echoed also on the gear knob and the steering wheel. The gear knob, handbrake lever and steering wheel are also covered in perforated leather.
The driver information system incorporated into the typical RS-design cockpit additionally features an oil temperature gauge as well as a stopwatch with lap timer function – a useful extra for those special track days so beloved of RS 4 drivers.
The driver information system welcomes the driver upon entering the car with the exclusive RS welcome logo. The eight-cylinder engine is started by pressing the Start button in the centre console. The aluminium pedals are a further echo of the motorsport world, and also help to save weight.
The safety package Audi has put together for the RS 4 is both comprehensive and highly sophisticated. Particular attention was paid in the development of this high-performance saloon to the overriding need for active driving safety. The quattro permanent four-wheel drive system already offers more traction than conventional drive systems in critical driving situations. Its variable distribution of power across the two axles now also provides even greater benefit.
An additional boost to safety is provided by the ESP, with its integrated dry braking function. When the road is wet the system lightly applies the brake pads to the discs at regular intervals, unnoticed by the driver, to sweep water from them and so improve braking response.
The ESP can be disabled in two stages: in stage 1 only the traction control (ASR) is disabled; the full ESP functionality is retained. In stage 2 the ESP is completely deactivated, including the traction control. The electronic control ceases.
The RS 4 features a tyre pressure monitoring system as standard. The sensors located in the wheels continually measure the tyre pressure at three-second intervals. In the event of an acute loss of pressure, the driver information system gives the driver both a visual warning sign and an acoustic alarm.
Extra-large brakes ensure stopping power quite comparable to that of a thoroughbred sports car. The perforated, ventilated brake discs measure 365 millimetres in diameter at the front, and 324 millimetres at the rear.
The new Audi RS 4 is the latest offspring of the RS family from quattro GmbH. The debut of the first RS 4 in 1999 – at the time the first high-performance model independently produced by the Audi subsidiary – attracted lots of admiring looks. At the same time it redefined the concept of a high-performance vehicle.
In a truly impressive manner, the first RS 4 proved the great potential offered for the future by Audi’s sporty models.
And Audi’s first RS model also impressed its fans right from the off. The RS2 Avant amazed the motoring world with its performance. This five-cylinder turbo model entered the market in 1994 and was built for a little over a year. Its engine delivered 262 kW (315 bhp). 2,881 customers opted for this sports car, which was based on the Audi 80 Avant. The RS2 has long since become a sought-after classic with a loyal fan club.
The first-generation RS 4 demonstrated what still marks out every RS vehicle to this day: an uncompromising combination of emotion and functionality. The very first Audi RS 4 Avant attracted customers by its outstanding combination of family practicability and everyday motoring qualities blended with driving performance offered up to that time only by the most thoroughbred sports cars.
The success was impressive: although the RS 4 remained in production for just 14 months, more than 6,000 buyers opted for this sports car in its Avant body style during that time.
And the RS 6 that succeeded it rapidly attracted an enthusiastic fan club of its own. At the end of the production run the limited-edition 480 bhp RS 6 plus was also put on sale. The RS 6 was the first RS model to be sold by Audi in both saloon and Avant guise.
This successful combination will be continued in the new RS 4. Altogether over 8,000 examples of the RS 6, including the RS 6 plus, were sold worldwide.
By creating the new Audi RS 4, quattro GmbH has proved once again that there is no need for compromise in developing a sports car fully suited to everyday motoring. Indeed, the RS models highlight the engineering and technological expertise of Audi more than virtually any other car.
The new Audi RS 4 also comes with a wide range of innovative technical features, emphasising the strengths of the brand through the use of FSI technology and the new-generation quattro permanent four-wheel drive. And at the same time Audi is taking a new approach with this outstanding model, for example by introducing the high-revving concept already tested successfully in motor racing.
The RS models from quattro GmbH are emotionally exciting sports cars which have to date attracted a large and enthusiastic fan base. That success will continue with the new RS 4.
Audi has always offered the RS driver perfectly engineered and highly emotional driving machines providing a high level of everyday motoring practicality, and the concept has attracted an enthusiastic fan base. That will not change with the new RS 4.
Responsible also for the “S line”, “Audi exclusive”, and “lifestyle articles” option packages and product lines within the Audi Group, quattro GmbH is making a significant contribution in further enhancing Audi’s position as an outstanding and emotionally exciting sports brand.