While the RS4 might lack the outright grunt of its closest rivals, it’s also (for now) the only model in its class with all-wheel drive. Aside from the obvious benefit of improved wet-weather traction, it also means the RS4 is just as quick from a standstill, reaching 62mph in 4.1sec – near-identical figures to both the Mercedes-AMG C63 S Estate and Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio.
Unfortunately this parity doesn’t last, as the Audi then will quickly lose ground to almost all of its direct rivals in the mid-range. In-gear response isn’t prohibitively worse, but compared to the hypersonic responses that both the AMG and Alfa are able to muster, the Audi can feel a tad more cumbersome. When on boost, the V6’s willingness to rev right through to its red line is also less apparent than in its rivals.
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The powertrain makes the RS4 feel like an extremely well executed executive car that’s been given some aggressive mapping rather than an inherently performance car package, unsurprising when you remember this engine is found in two Porsche SUVs and a mid-level Panamera.
The transmission makes good use of its torque-converter with flawless mannerisms when just pootling around, yet impressively quick changes when the correct mode is selected. Gears change cleanly and smoothly, but select manual mode from the transmission’s Sport setting (the selected gear will turn red on the virtual cockpit) and the RS4’s more assertive side arises with ignition cuts, fuel dumps into the exhaust and short, sharp downshifts.
Engine noise in the cabin is underwhelming, but drive with the windows down and the turbochargers make themselves known with plenty of wooshy noises and pops coming from both in front and behind of you. At least some induction noise would be greatly appreciated though.