2007 Audi RS 4
This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2008.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The rakish new Audi RS 4 sedan technically belongs to the automaker's top-selling A4 compact car line. But blazing performance and unique features separate it from regular A4 versions, which include sedans, station wagons and convertibles.
Audi says the all-wheel-drive RS 4 "highlights the engineering and technological expertise of Audi more than virtually any other car." This auto was developed by Audi's oddly named (at least to American ears) "quattro GmbH" high-performance division and closes the gap between a sports car and a sports sedan.
The RS 4 has nearly the immediate responsiveness of a production-based race car and, says Audi, "continues the tradition of quattro GmbH in bridging the gap between motorsport and everyday motoring."
The RS 4 looks racy, with large front air inlets for engine cooling, flared wheel arches to accommodate huge tires on 19-inch wheels, flared side sills and a rear spoiler deftly integrated into the trunk lid and side panels.
My test RS 4 had sunglasses-shattering Imola yellow paint that really made it stand out. I was surprised to find that it wasn't an optional color.
Compared with a standard A4, the RS 4 sits 1.2 inches lower and has a wider track, increased by 1.5 inches up front and nearly 2 inches at the rear.
The engine has a lofty 12.5:1 compression ratio—just like the fastest 1960s American muscle cars that are drawing such big bucks these days—and very efficient direct fuel injection.
No Automatic Transmission
Rather, the engine works with a more traditional 6-speed manual gearbox with a short-throw floor shifter. The clutch has a long-throw but positive action—there's no need to fear stalling the engine because of a clutch that abruptly engages near the top of pedal travel.
Pressing a "sport" button on the Audi's dashboard causes slightly quicker throttle response and a more aggressive exhaust sound. There's also a stopwatch with a lap timer function that Audi says is a "useful extra for those special track days so beloved of RS 4 drivers." (While new to America, the first RS 4 debuted in Europe in 1999.)
The RS 4 also has a high-performance suspension and Audi's Dynamic Ride Control, which reduces body roll and pitch. And there's an electronic stability control system, which includes an electronic differential lock, traction control and powerful anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution for consistently sure stops.
Steering is precise and stopping distances are impressively short, with good brake pedal feel. Although firm, the ride is supple, although it occasionally became a bit jumpy on uneven Chicago area freeway surfaces.
The RS 4 has lots of weight-saving aluminum but still tips the scales at a hefty 3,957 pounds. Put that weight with the high horsepower and sizzling performance and you can see why this Audi will never win fuel economy runs.
This Audi is so well-equipped that the only major option is a $4,700 Premium Package. It contains items including a navigation system, glove box CD changer, SIRIUS or XM Satellite Radio, Bose premium sound system and heated rear seats. Front-seat side airbags are standard, while rear side bags cost $350.
The quiet, upscale interior is filled with leather, aluminum and carbon fiber. The front bucket seats are supportive and gauges can be easily read. Major controls are easy to use.
Tight Rear Seat
The trunk is large, with a low, wide opening and a lid that moves well up and out of the way on hydraulic struts. Rear seatbacks flip forward and sit nearly flat to enlarge the cargo area.
The RS 4 is exclusive, and will outperform most cars while used for commutes or weekend chores and sports. Considering that, maybe it's not so costly, after all.