Audi has whipped the covers off a new RS 4 Avant at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Gone are the old naturally aspirated V8 and dual-clutch gearbox, and in their place is a downsized turbo V6 and torque converter. Don't think the Audi has gone soft, though. The all-wheel drive RS 4 should still give BMW M3 and AMG C63 owners nightmares.
That's right, the new RS 4 swaps the free-breathing engine from the current car for a more efficient, torquier new turbocharged V6 making 450 hp (331 kW) of power – the same you get from the current engine. You get a whopping 600 Nm (443 lb-ft) of torque in the blown V6, though, which is 170 Nm (125 lb-ft) more than the old V8 offered.
Rather than sticking with a dual-clutch gearbox, Audi has fitted a eight-speed torque converter. Theoretically, losing two cylinders and whip-crack DSG upshifts should make a car slower, but the new RS 4 Avant is actually 0.6 seconds faster to 62 mph (100 km/h) than its predecessor. Thank the extra torque for that one. Although the car is electronically limited to 155 mph (250 km/h), an optional package boosts that to 174 mph (280 km/h).
The car rides on sports suspension that's 7 mm (0.3 in) lower than standard, while ticking the right boxes on the option list gets adaptive suspension, carbon ceramic brakes and an RS dynamic steering system. Gearshift ferocity, throttle response and steering weight can all be altered through the Audi Drive Select button.
Inside, the basic Audi A4 Avant interior has been spruced up with quilted sport seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and carbon fiber trim. The clever Virtual Cockpit is standard, and allows drivers to keep tabs on their g-force, engine outputs and lap times. Given it's an Audi, expect all the buttons to be beautifully damped and all the panels to match up nicely.
The exterior follows a predictable (and attractive) formula. The wheel arches have been pumped up, the grille is finished in gloss black, there are bigger wheels and two drainpipe-sized exhaust pipes down back. It sounds formulaic when written down, but a quick flick through our gallery should be enough to dispel those fears. It looks fantastic, especially in the shade of blue you see here.
Pricing will start at €79,800 (US$95,600). The RS 4 Avant was revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show, where New Atlas is on the ground covering all the action. Stay tuned for the latest.