The world’s greatest compact grocery getter?

Introduced in 1999, the Audi RS4 placed itself at the top of Audi’s compact car lineup. With a sportier, more aerodynamic exterior, exclusive features on the inside, and a more powerful engine, the RS4 quickly became a solid competitor for the BMW M3. However, unlike BMW, Audi also built a wagon version a created a brand-new niche for performance grocery getters. The RS4 Avant become such an important car in the Audi lineup, that the third-generation RS4 didn’t even get a sedan version. Come 2017 and a brand-new generation RS4 arrived, also introduced with an Avant variant only.

Essentially a beefed-up version of the latest A4 wagon, which already sports Audi’s new design language with more angular features, the RS4 Avant gained a brand-new engine that smaller, but more potent than the outgoing unit. The new performance wagon is also lighter than its predecessor, which had quite a few issues when compared to the awesome Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate. All told, Audi finally has a proper competitor for the souped-up Merc and we will find out what it brings to the table in the review below.

Continue reading to learn more about the next Audi RS4 Avant.

  • Year:
    2017
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • 0-60 time:
    4.5 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    100000 (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Official video

Exterior

*** Paired with the more angular line of new A4, the new features give the RS4 Avant a decidedly more aggressive stance ***

Up front, the wagon gained the RS-style honeycomb grille, as well as the "quattro" lettering underneath the license plate, an "RS4" badge, and a sportier bumper with larger air vents. Both the Singleframe grille and the intakes have the RS-specific honeycomb grille. Paired with the more angular line of new A4, these features give the RS4 Avant a decidedly more aggressive stance. The Matrix LED headlamps with tinted bezels are optional.

Onto the sides, the wagon received slightly beefier fenders, which are 1.2 inches wider, RS-style mirror caps, new 19-inch, forged aluminum wheels (20-inch rollers are optional), and sportier side skirts. Also, the car has been lowered by 0.3 inches for enhanced dynamics.

*** Around back, the RS4 Avant is identical to the standard model above the bumper ***

Around back, the RS4 Avant is identical to the standard model above the bumper, save for the roof spoiler of course, but it features a sportier diffuser down below. The large, oval exhaust pipes and the "RS4" badge on the tailgate round off the rear fascia.

Audi also introduced a new paint option for the wagon. It’s called Nogaro Blue, it features a pearl effect, and the Germans claim that it recalls the first-generation Avant from 1999. Nogaro Blue is an Audi Exclusive option, so don’t expect to find it in the standard configurator.

Interior

*** The front seats are of the RS Sport variety, which means there’s solid bolstering for spirited driving ***

As usual, most of the RS4’s interior is black. Audi says that this "underscores the sporty character" of the car, but I’m not really a big fan. I mean, just check out Ferraris and Lamborghinis with red and brown interiors. They seem pretty sporty to me. But hey, this black interior thing is somewhat of a tradition for Audi RS right now and I don’t think it will change anytime soon. At least you can get light-colored leather for the seats and door panels and grey carbon trim for the dashboard and center console.

The front seats are of the RS Sport variety, which means there’s solid bolstering for spirited driving. An optional honeycomb pattern on the seating surface can be ordered. The seats and the door panels aren’t the only features covered in leather. The flat-bottomed, RS-style steering is also dressed in hide, complemented by white stitching and an "RS" badge. The latter can also be seen on the shift gate and the standard illuminated door sills. Finally, the RS-specific display in the instrument cluster indicates g-forces, tire pressure and torque on top of the usual A4 Avant information.

Options include a couple of styling packages that add carbon-fiber with aluminum or black accents. As usual, the Audi Exclusive program covers just about any other special request. As long as you have a fat wallet, that is!

Drivetrain

*** Arguably the biggest change here is the engine, with the previous 4.2-liter V-8 having been replaced by a 2.9-liter V-6 ***

Arguably the biggest change here is the engine, with the previous 4.2-liter V-8 having been replaced by a 2.9-liter V-6. Twin-turbocharged unit is brand-new and cranks out 450 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. Horsepower is identical to the previous powerplant, but torque increased by a whopping 126 pound-feet.

As a result, and also due to the fact that the new RS4 is 176 pounds lighter, the redesigned wagon needs only 4.1 seconds to hit 62 mph from a standing start. That’s a half-second quicker than the previous model and a solid improvement. It’s also a tenth-second quicker than the Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate and as quick as the C63 S version, which comes with 503 horsepower on tap, 53 horses more than the RS4 Avant. Top speed remains locked at the usual 155 mph, but the optionalRS Dynamic package lifts the limited to 174 mph.

*** Horsepower is identical to the previous powerplant, but torque increased by a whopping 126 pound-feet ***

Granted, some of you might be upset that Audi no longer offers a V-8, but these performance gains make the 4.2-liter unit seem obsolete. And besides, you can’t quote tradition here, because the first-generation RS4 Avant was actually powered by a 2.7-liter V-6. So it’s more of a back to the roots thing.

As before, the engine mates to a Quattro all-wheel-drive system and an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, but both have been upgraded for the new-generation wagon. Optionally, the RS4 Avant can be equipped with a rear sport differential.

*** Average fuel consumption is rated at 8.8 liters per 100 km ***

Average fuel consumption is rated at 8.8 liters per 100 km. This converts to 26.7 US mpg, but there’s no EPA rating yes since Audi has yet to announce whether the RS4 Avant will come to the U.S.. What we know for a fact is that the new wagon boasts an efficiency gain of 17 percent over the previous model.

The standard sports suspension lowers the car by an additional 0.3 inches, but you can opt for the RS Sport suspension with Dynamic Ride Control. Other high-performance options include ceramic brakes and RS dynamic steering.

Prices

2017 Audi RS4 Avant - image 705930

Pricing for the new RS4 Avant starts from €79,800 in Germany, which makes it by far the most expensive iteration of the A4 family. For reference, the RS4 Avant is sold with a €46,100 premium compared to the base A4 Avant. The high-performance wagon goes on sale this fall with deliveries scheduled to begin in early 2018. There’s no word on whether it will become available in the U.S., but if it does, expect it to cost at least $80,000 before options. Unfortunately, I don’t think Audi will sell the RS4 Avant in North America anytime soon.

Competition

Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate

Since BMW doesn’t offer a wagon version of the M3, the Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate is basically the RS4 Avant’s only rival. Redesigned for the 2015 model year, the C63 Estate carries AMG’s new biturbo, 4.0-liter V-8, which it shares with the 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT sports car, among other vehicles. The powerplant is available in two flavors. The one in the standard C63 cranks out 469 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, which translate into a 0-to-62 mph sprint of 4.2 seconds. More power comes from the unit motivating the C63 S version, tuned to deliver 503 horses and 516 pound-feet. In this case, 62 mph comes in 4.1 ticks. Both versions have their top speeds limited to 155 mph. As exciting as the Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate may sound, you won’t be able to buy it in the U.S., as the Germans aren’t too keen on selling it here. You’ll just have to settle for the larger AMG E63 S Wagon. If you’re among our lucky readers living in either Germany or the U.K., you can buy one from €77,766 and £61,260, respectively.

Read our full review of the Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate here.

Conclusion

When it comes to high-performance compact executives with wagon rear ends, the RS4 Avant is arguably the car that started it all. It all began with the Porsche-prepped RS2 Avant of the mid-1990s, in an era when Mercedes-Benz did not offer an AMG-modified C-Class wagon officially. Since then Audi’s compact grocery-getter has evolved in many ways and kept its exclusive status with production cycles that rarely last longer than two years. And even though it has fallen behind its Mercedes-badged competitor in recent years in terms of power and torque, it remains one of the most desirable wagons on the market.

The fact that the RS4 Avant is among the vehicles that keeps frustrating U.S. customers by being missing from dealerships nationwide speaks volumes of its following on this side of the Atlantic. Although Audi might still refuse to bring the RS4 Avant stateside in 2017, the wagon will continue to live on as an outstanding machine. Even with the downsized engine and the boring, mostly black interior. Maybe it’s time for BMW to finally deliver a wagon version of the M3?

  • Leave it
    • Not as powerful as the AMG C63 S Estate
    • Likely won’t make it to the U.S.

Updated History

Updated 02/17/2016: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming Audi RS4 Avant out for a new testing session, this time during cold winter conditions somewhere in Germany.

Updated 04/25/2016: The upcoming Audi RS4 was caught testing at the Nurburgring race track. Hit "play" to watch it in action next to a McLaren 570S.

Updated 04/11/2016: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming RS4 Avant our for a new testing session. This time the prototype reveals more of its changes, including the revised front bumper with its bigger openings and the rear bumper featuring the big oval exhaust pipes.

Updated 10/29/2015: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming Audi RS4 Avant out driving around the roads of the Nürburgring. At a first look this appears to be a regular S4 Avant, but on a closer look you will notice wider fenders on all four corners, bigger wheels, while its still lacking the bigger brakes and drilled rotors. Still, its pretty clear that we are looking at the next RS4 Avant.

Spy Shots

March 28, 2017 - Audi RS4 Avant caught testing around the ’Ring

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February 17, 2017 - Audi RS4 Avant caught playing in the snow

2017 Audi RS4 Avant - image 705929
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April 11, 2016 - Next Audi RS4 caught testing one more time

2017 Audi RS4 Avant - image 672178
2017 Audi RS4 Avant - image 672185
2017 Audi RS4 Avant - image 672187

October 29, 2015 - First testing session

2017 Audi RS4 Avant - image 653383
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Press release

Audi Sport GmbH celebrates the world debut of the new Audi RS 4 Avant (combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 8.8; combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 200-199*) at the IAA 2017. It combines high performance with tremendous everyday usability. Its 2.9 TFSI engine with 331 kW (450 hp) and 600 Nm of torque makes it the sporty vanguard of the A4 family. The standard quattro drive distributes the power of the V6 biturbo to all four wheels.

2017 Audi RS4 Avant - image 730940

“The Audi RS 4 Avant is our RS icon with an incomparable history,” commented Stephan Winkelmann, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH. “In common with all our RS models, it blends immense power output with superlative everyday utility. In China, the Audi RS 4 will provide fresh impetus for growth as the only high-performance Avant in its segment.”

Roof edge spoiler creates distinctive rear end
When creating the fourth generation of the Audi RS 4 Avant, the designers took inspiration from many motorsport details of the Audi 90 quattro IMSA GTO. Massive air inlets with typical RS honeycomb structure and the wide, flat Singleframe grille define the front end. The optional Matrix LED headlights display tinted bezels. Compared to the Audi A4 Avant, the wheel arches are 30 millimeters (1.2 in) wider and are given added emphasis by the quattro blisters. At the rear end, the RS-specific diffuser insert, the oval tailpipes of the RS exhaust system and the RS roof edge spoiler make for a distinctive look. The exterior color Nogaro blue, pearl effect available optionally from Audi exclusive recalls the first generation of the high-performance Avant from 1999. The new Audi RS 4 Avant travels on 19-inch forged aluminum wheels as standard; 20-inch wheels are available as an option.

From 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 4.1 seconds, RS sport suspension and Audi drive select as standard
The V6 biturbo develops 331 kW (450 hp) in the new Audi RS 4 Avant. Its peak torque of 600 Nm (442.5 lb-ft) – 170 Nm (125.4 lb-ft) more than the previous model – is available across a broad engine speed range from 1,900 to 5,000 rpm. It is key to how the Audi RS 4 is able to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 4.1 seconds. The top speed is 250 km/h (155.3 mph). With the optional RS dynamic package, the top speed increases to 280 km/h (174.0 mph).

2017 Audi RS4 Avant - image 730941

The power of the 2.9 TFSI biturbo is supplied to the permanent all-wheel drive via a sportily configured eight-speed tiptronic with optimized gear changing. Audi also offers an optional rear sport differential. Average fuel consumption is 8.8 liters per 100 kilometers (26.7 US mpg) (199 grams of CO2 per kilometer [320.3 g/mi]). That is an efficiency gain of 17 percent over the previous model. The new Audi RS 4 Avant weighs 1,790 kilograms (3,946.3 lb) 80 kilograms (176.4 lb) less than previously.

The standard-fit RS sport suspension sets the Audi RS 4 Avant another seven millimeters (0.3 in) lower than the A4 basic model with sport suspension. By way of equipment options, there are RS sport suspension plus with Dynamic Ride Control (DRC), ceramic brakes and RS-specific dynamic steering. Drivers can define their own individual personal driving experience using the standard dynamic handling system Audi drive select.

Interior with sophisticated materials and digital racing-style cockpit
The black interior underscores the sporty character of the Audi RS 4 Avant. The RS sport seats with optional honeycomb pattern, the flat-bottomed RS leather multifunction sport steering wheel, the shift gate and the illuminated door sill trims are all adorned with the RS emblem. In the Audi virtual cockpit and head-up display, RS-specific displays indicate the g-forces, tire pressures and torque. The styling packages gloss black, carbon with aluminum attachments and carbon with black attachments provide further scope for customization. The Audi exclusive program covers just about any other special request.

2017 Audi RS4 Avant - image 730942

The Audi RS 4 Avant can be ordered from the fall onward, before arriving at dealers in Germany and other European countries from the start of 2018. The basic price will be EUR 79,800.

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Press release
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