The thrills of a hot sedan in a wagon avatar

At a time when wagons are slowly evolving from being family haulers to performance beasts, people in the U.S. are missing out on a lot of action. The Audi RS4 and the RS6 Avant give us the major #FOMO feels. Audi has told wagon-lovers in the U.S. not to give up hopes yet, as the company said, "We always look at potential new opportunities in the market. It’s a niche to explore. We keep holding discussions. Keep writing us letters.” That’s not a confirmation in any way, but it sounds like an assurance for the time being. The namesake fast wagon from the German automaker’s stable that we have here is the Audi A4 Allroad. Although we were mighty impressed with the wagon, it is no substitute for the RS4 Avant, and, that is why we need the Lord of the four rings to ship those beauties our way as soon as possible. You listening, Audi?

Exterior

  • Revised LED headlights and taillights
  • Q8-esque front-fascia 3-D grille
  • No chrome on the car spotted in the spy shots!
  • New mellowed-down alloy design
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Even though wagons strike a perfect balance between sedans and SUVs, these long-tailed vehicles never looked attractive, and that was a turn-off for a lot of potential customers. It is as if they knew that their main purpose is to just haul people and luggage from point A to point B in a leisurely manner, and didn’t really care how they looked. However, things are changing now. Audi is a prime example of how an automaker can turn the so-called ’boring wagons’ into desirable products. Speaking of desirable, the new Audi RS4 Avant was spotted with bare minimum camouflage.

Upfront, the 2020 Audi RS4 Avant looks very similar to the outgoing model.

The LED Matrix headlights are a little sleeker and are more in line with the current crop of cars from the automaker’s stable. The bumper covered in camouflage looks to be the same, but there are circular fog lamp housings this time. The new honeycomb grille is largely similar to the predecessor, but this is the new 3-D grille that is present on the Audi Q8 as well. Overall, the RS4 Avant still looks as menacing and aggressive as the current model, and we are happy that Audi did not try to mess up that pretty face.

2020 Audi RS4 Avant Exterior Spyshots
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Audi has excelled at making the profile of the wagon, which is perhaps the trickiest part to work with, look absolutely fantastic. This goes the same for even the Allroad series.

The first thing I noticed here is that the car is devoid of any chrome elements in the side. The 2020 RS4 Avant is a black beauty in a literal sense.

The ’spy car’ did not even wear chrome on the window sills. For someone like me who absolutely despises chrome, this is great news. The 19-inch rollers receive a new matte-silver alloy design that is a lot more subtle than the current RS4 Avant’s set. This seems a little odd since the previous design looked stunning and added a lot of character to the wagon when viewed from its vulnerable side.

Around back, the RS4 Avant carries the same design, leave for the new revised LED taillights. The detailing is a lot sharper this time around and looks much better in action. The RS4 Avant sits squat and looks sportier than a conventional wagon. The oval tailpipes on either side are still a tad too big and spoil the overall look in my opinion, though. A rectangular setup would have looked smarter and in-line with the charisma of the sexy wagon.

Interior

  • Tons of luggage space
  • 8.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system will be revised
  • Instrument cluster shows performance specs
2018 Audi RS4 Avant High Resolution Interior
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Just like the outside, we expect very few, subtle changes inside the cabin. The RS variant seats, coined as ’super sports’ are comfortable, and are the biggest highlight in here. Throw the car around corners and the extra bolstering will keep you in place every time. However, you tend to sit ’in’ them, which may not be to everyone’s liking. We are hoping Audi has addressed the issue this time and given them a slightly more upright position. It goes unsaid that there is no dearth of space whatsoever in here; be it the headroom, legroom, or the shoulder room, everything is aplenty. The RS4 Avant will wear a dark-theme on the inside, which is synonymous with ’sporty’ these days. The flat-bottomed steering is perfectly-sized and a delight to hold. The doorpads and seats wear a mix of leather and alcantara, whereas the steering can be trimmed in leather as optional.

2018 Audi RS4 Avant AutoShow High Resolution Interior
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The current RS4 Avant’s center console is a nice setup, and everything is ergonomically perfect. The short-and-stout gear lever is surrounded by the button for the electronic parking brake, a rotary dial to select the drive mode, and cup holders in the front. The HVAC controls sit flush on the dash, just below the slim air vents that extend all the way up to the passenger side’s end. The ’RS’ badging is slapped in every nook and corner of the RS4 Avant - on the steering wheel, shift gate, and the door sills. The 12.3-inch instrument cluster on the RS4 Avant throws out performance-based information such as the tire pressure, G-forces, and torque. There is no reason for Audi to drop this in the new RS4 Avant. Perhaps the only update expected in the cabin will be to the touchscreen infotainment system. The current 8.3-inch infotainment system includes DAB radio, DVD playback, 10 gigs of onboard storage, and online traffic information as standard. It also supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The system is user-friendly, unlike the BMW’s iDrive, which needs a Ph.D degree to be operated. We’ll know the actual changes made to it once Audi announces the RS4 Avant officially.

Talking about its core strength, the wagon can haul 17.8 cubic-feet of luggage when all seats in place and 53.3 cubic-feet with the rear seats folded. This is marginally more than what the Mercedes-AMG C63 offers in its current form.

Drivetrain

  • 2.9-liter, V-6 engine
  • Produces 450 horses and 443 pound-feet of torque
  • Eight-speed torque converter gearbox
  • 0-62 mph in 4.1 seconds
  • Top speed electronically limited to 155 mph
2018 Audi RS4 Avant High Resolution Drivetrain
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Wagons these days have gotten fast. Not just overtaking the-quick-sedan-in-front-of-you fast, but push-you-back-in-the-seat fast. The current RS4 Avant features an explosive engine under the hood and we don’t see Audi blessing it with any more power, unless it decides to spring a surprise. The 2018 RS4 Avant has a 2.9-liter, V-6 engine in place of the old 4.2-liter, V-8. Although the company faced a lot of heat for this, it actually came prepared with 126 pound-feet of extra torque that was enough to silence the critics.

This time, too, Audi will carry over the 2.9-liter, turbocharged, V-6 engine that churns 450 horses and 443 pound-feet of torque.

Surprisingly, Audi has ditched the DSG transmission in favor of a regular old eight-speed auto. Being a daily-driver utility wagon at its core, it makes more sense to feature something a little tamer, as it improves the fuel economy and low-speed crawling. Audi claims that the RS4 Avant can deliver up to 26 mpg. The Audi RS4 Avant hits the 62 mph mark from a standstill in 4.1 seconds, before it loses its breath at 155 mph, thanks to the cartel the three Germans have signed. You can opt for the Dynamic package that adds another 19 mph to the electronically governed top speed. The engine is mated to the company’s patented Quattro all-wheel-drive system. To soothe your adrenaline, you can also opt for a rear sport differential, RS dynamic steering, and ceramic brakes for extra moolah.

2020 Audi RS4 Avant Exterior Spyshots
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Speaking of its ride and handling, the RS4 Avant drives like a charm. There is a reason why the beast is prefixed with the RS tag, and that is clearly evident the moment you crank the engine.

The RS4 Avant is not averse to being thrown around the corners or ripping the straight roads.

The wagon sticks to the roads like a leech and provides enough grip and confidence for you to keep your foot floored on the A-pedal. The optional Dynamic package helps control the body roll to an extent, but that is it. The RS4 Avant does not shy away from showing its wagon traits, but kudos to Audi for masking it quite well.

Prices

2020 Audi RS4 Avant Exterior Spyshots
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Since the Audi RS4 Avant is not yet officially launched, we obviously don’t have official prices. But given the very few changes that the wagon comes with, we expect it to come with a price tag of £63,000 ($83,500); a marginal increase over the outgoing model.

Competition

Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate

2015 Mercedes-AMG C63 High Resolution Exterior
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The Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate’s biggest advantage over the Audi RS4 Avant is the bigger engine. It features a 4.0-liter, biturbo, V-8 engine that produces 469 horses and 479 pound-feet of torque. You can opt for the C63 S Estate as well, which features the same powertrain, but with better power output figures. The C63 S Estate churns out 503 ponies and 516 pound-feet of torque. The former takes 4.2 seconds to hit the 62 mph mark, while the latter takes a tenth-second shorter. Both have their top speeds limited to 155 mph.

The interior is not as exciting as the RS4 Avant’s, but the C63 Estate’s cabin will age gracefully. The dash and the center control is scattered with buttons all around and looks like a cockpit waiting to welcome you in it. It feels simple, yet elegant. In terms of looks, we’d pick the RS4 Avant over the C63 Estate, but if you ask the old-school mentality of ours which still believes that there is no replacement for displacement, we’d pick the AMG’s V-8 over the Audi’s V-6.

For some reason, BMW does not have an offering that can take on the RS4 Avant, or the C63 Estate. An M3 Touring would surely attract customers, wouldn’t it? However, there is an M3 Touring in the Netherlands! Confused? Well, a Dutchman rebuilt his 320d and turned it into an M3 Touring of sorts. The owner plonked a BMW S55 engine into the new wagon. It is a 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine that produces anywhere between 424-493 horses and 406-444 pound-feet of torque. He ordered Eventuri intakes and a Stage 2 turbo upgrade, and remapped the engine tune. The wagon now creams 530 horses at a tap of the A-pedal. He even added an M Performance Exhaust that makes the wagon growl aggressively. Need inspiration, BMW? Contact this man, or even better, hire him!

Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate

Conclusion

2020 Audi RS4 Avant Exterior Spyshots
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The Audi RS4 Avant is a wagon that can make you go weak in your knees. Audi has pulled off a creative brilliance here and executed it even better. The company’s 27 years of experience in building performance wagons has a lot of do with it. For a few folks, the 2.9-liter engine might be a letdown, but the extra torque and torque-converter gearbox make up for it very well. This grocery-hauler from Ingolstadt looks great, sits pretty, and drives even better. Although the performance-based wagon segment is still a niche, the two major players present here are performing well and would be more than happy to keep the other automakers out of contention as long as possible and enjoy the pie amongst themselves. All-in-all, the Audi RS4 Avant will be a practical buy and one of the very few times where the heart and the head will go hand-in-hand during the decision-making process. Now, all we can do is drop the top Audi seat-warmers (pun intended) letters and e-mails and show them that the U.S. market deserves this beauty.

  • Leave it
    • The all-black theme will not please all
    • No replacement for displacement. V-6 still not accepted as the V-8’s successor
    • Will it ever come to the U.S.?

Further reading

2018 Audi RS4 Avant High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2018 Audi RS4 Avant.

2018 Audi RS4 Sedan
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Read our full speculative review on the 2018 Audi RS4 Sedan.

2016 - 2018 Audi A4 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Audi A4 Wagon.

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