In price and function, the two cars are therefore similar – or at least in the same ballpark. Both have V8 engines providing more than 400bhp. But although the S6 gives 414PS (408bhp) from its twin-turbo, 4.0 litre engine, the RS4 simply blows the larger car away with a staggering 450PS (444bhp) from its 4.2 litre normally-aspirated version.
With lightweight technology being a key element in Audi’s marketing strategy these days, it is also pertinent to note that the RS4 is 155kg lighter than the S6, giving it a nearly 20% better power to weight ratio. And, oh boy, that is something that you notice!
Driving the S6 Avant left one thinking: “it’s a lovely car, but can I really afford it?” but the RS4 is far more addictive: “I need to buy one of these, how can I afford it!”
It is a car that demands to be stretched, to be hurried along, even if there is no hurry. Even when you can see the next traffic light ahead is red, the temptation is to always be there first, apart from anything else, because you can. In many ways, it is more like a high-performance sports car than a family estate. When I took my 12-year-old son to his cycling club, the bike went easily into the boot, but as I drove there, I quite simply forgot what I was doing, and found myself pushing the car through the corners, accelerating through medium-speed curves with enthusiasm that had us both grinning foolishly.
Then there are the “impressive engine acoustics”, as it says in the brochure. The V8 bellows out without the constraint of turbo-charger. Subtle it isn’t, but it is rather good.
I am reasonably used to the S-tronic gearbox, and in dynamic mode it enables the enhanced acoustics as well as providing the optimum gear for fast acceleration – obviously at the expense of fuel consumption. But it really doesn’t matter. Getting good fuel consumption is not the point of the RS4 Avant. Rather like Billy Whizz from “The Beano”, the point is to travel quickly, not to arrive sooner. It may mean you end up a bit red in the face, but why not? It’s worth it.
|Look forward to a lot of visits to the pumps!|
I see that this month's Motor Sport contains a test of the RS6 Avant , but unless you have the extra £15,000 burning a hole in your pocket, I don't see how it could be that much better.