By on October 27, 2006

07audirs4_01_hr.jpgBuy a Toyota Prius and you get a backup camera, keyless ignition, iPod integration and travel over 50 miles for every gallon of gas poured therein. Buy an Audi RS4 and you don’t even get self-dimming mirrors, and you can only drive 11 miles per gallon of dead dinos (EPA notwithstanding). The Prius will set you back $25k. The RS4 costs three Prii. At freeway speeds, the Toyota is a near silent and comfortable cruiser, whereas the Audi sounds and feels like a volcano making love to an avalanche.

I only tell you this because the moment I saw the RS4 a Toyota angel appeared on my left shoulder and an Audi demon manifested itself on my right. And then I drove the RS4 and the demon kicked the snot out of the angel.

07audirs4_02_hr.jpgAllow me to dispense with the unimportant stuff. The RS4 looks like Shawne Merriman in a tight blue shirt, its mirrors are too small and the interior is stereotypically Audi-perfect minus the ugly, useless strip of tacky carbon fiber trim half-circling the dash. The stereo sounds tinny and the back seats are a joke. Got it? Good.

Most buff books clock the RS4’s 0-60 time at 4.6 seconds. That’s stupid fast indeed, just ahead of its main competition, the M3. However, what they leave out is that the RS4 can do 0-110 in 4.7 seconds. Or at least it feels like it can.

rs.jpgBlindfolded, you would swear the Audi is being launched from a trebuchet. Sitting forward of the front wheels is an all-aluminum, 317lbs., 4.2-liter miracle of human imagination. Yes, it makes 420hp, but so does a Dodge SRT-8. While fun, the Dodge Boys’ 6.1-liter Hemi is far from miraculous. The RS4’s V8 is nothing short of a revelation.

Let’s say you’re cruising at 80mph in sixth-gear and the engine is doing 3,000rpm, the mechanical equivalent of sipping a latte. You downshift to fifth and the engine quickly and smoothly spins up to 4,000rpm. In most cars, the engine would slow you down; the RS4 just screams louder and burns more gas. Your velocity remains unchanged.

07audirs4_10_hr.jpgMore proof? In first gear, release the clutch without touching the go-pedal. You won’t stall. You’ll go. Also, a V8 with an 8,250rpm redline is mechanical heroin.

Fine, so the engine is a torque-tastic beast, but they put it in an Audi so it’s nothing more than a bloated understeerer totally devoid of road feel and reflexes, right? Dead wrong. I have a turgid, secret back road I use to evaluate the handling prowess of my testers.

Until this week, Porsche’s Boxster was the champ. I could whip it through the turns at 70mph. For comparison’s sake, the nearly-as-nifty handling Miata could “only” do the twists at about 60mph. The RS4 dominated the two-mile stretch at 100mph, and if I wasn’t so ham-fisted it could have gone faster. Much faster.

07audirs4_04_hr.jpgAudi used every trick in the playbook to get the RS4 – with 58% of its weight over the front wheels – to handle near-on perfectly. Credit the DRC (Dynamic Ride Control) which hydraulically links the diagonal suspension bits to each other. As the front wheels read the road, the rear shocks preemptively (and correctly) react. This setup works so well the WRC just banned it.

The engineers also made sure every body panel in front of the doors is composed of kilogram saving aluminum. And the 19″ Pirellis are fantastic. While the initial turn in isn’t as effortless and eager as say an EVO, this two-ton all-wheel driver can safely carry more speed through a corner than you can handle. After the apex, the RS4 can blast sideways with such force that you will swear you are piloting violence.

07audirs4_10_hr22.jpgAnd that’s before you push the innocuous little button marked “S.” Normally, the RS4 is faster than whatever car you are driving next to, sounds bonkers and has a devastatingly punishing ride. Push the button though, and three things happen.

First, the throttle control is remapped so that the rev-happy mill will crank faster with less input. Second, valves open in the mufflers changing the sound from Howard Dean’s scream to Gunnery Sgt. Hartman showing Joker his war face. Lastly, the shocks get firmer and the ride goes from mercilessly painful to f-you. I absolutely love it. Forget violence, you are now driving war.

07audirs4_06_hr.jpgThere aren’t enough superlatives (or space) to properly describe the vulgar joy of driving an RS4. For instance, I haven’t even mentioned that the brakes are stolen from Lamborghini’s Gallardo. Nor did I tell you that while normally quite brave and stupid, I was too frightened to turn off the handling nanny. In short, if you have the means, the RS4 is your end. Right. Now excuse me. I’ve got some sinning to do before the Audi man comes and it’s time to repent.

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152 Comments on “2007 Audi RS4 Review...”


  • avatar

    Forget violence, you are now driving war.

    Awesome stuff! I can’t afford one and wouldn’t spend that kind of money if I could, but reading this review makes me want one. Nice write up Jonny and it sounds like this is one hell of a car.

  • avatar
    Blunozer

    It’s cars like these that remind us why we become “petrolheads” in the first place.

    Nobody needs a car this fast. Nobody needs a .44 Desert Eagle automatic either… But they are both something you would rather have than the other guy.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Wow. Lucky guy.

    BTW, dinoflagellates are microscopic plankton, at the bottom of the food chain.

  • avatar
    TexasAg03

    Nobody needs a car this fast. Nobody needs a .44 Desert Eagle automatic either… But they are both something you would rather have than the other guy.

    BINGO!!

  • avatar
    ash78

    Just when I thought it was the best opening paragraph ever, you keep it up for the whole review. Forget any shortcomings, fair & balanced is overrated when it comes to a car that defies most practical sensibilities. Does it come in an Avant?

    Oh, and continuing the theme:
    The fact that you’ve got ‘Replica’ written down the side of your gun, and the fact that mine says ‘Desert Eagle .50′, should precipitate your balls into shrinking

  • avatar
    RicardoHead

    Yes, but how does it compare to the Roewe 750E?

  • avatar
    gcmustanglx

    I wonder if the local Audi dealer is stupid enough to let me test drive one without a background check and 50% down?

  • avatar
    ash78

    Get ready for the hits: I just submitted this to fark and it went green. So if the servers explode at 12:05 eastern, please don’t get mad at me ;)

    Too good not to share!

  • avatar
    viroe

    …..Second, valves open in the mufflers changing the sound from Howard Dean’s scream to Gunnery Sgt. Hartman showing Joker his war face. Lastly, the shocks get firmer and the ride goes from mercilessly painful to f-you. I absolutely love it. Forget violence, you are now driving war.

    It’s because of writing like this that I come back every day….thanks Jonny

  • avatar
    TreyV

    Uh oh, you’ve been farked! Well, that’s one way to increase readship. :D

  • avatar
    andyinsdca

    Jeebus. Could you have crammed any more stupid phrases in that review? I gave up after the first paragraph.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    “…sounds and feels like a volcano making love to an avalanche…”

    Wonderful write-up. I wept for want of this car.

  • avatar
    yournamehere

    *sigh*….i love that car. i see one driving around my town every now and then and i turn the radio off and roll the windows down so i can hear it…

  • avatar
    JJ

    Does it come in an Avant?

    Yes it does…It even comes as the convertible. Don’t know if they are going to ship them to the US as well though. In any case US buyers don’t get the sport steering wheel that’s flattend at the bottom side.

    Btw, not only the brakes are stolen from the Gallardo, the engine is too. 4/5ths of it anyway.

  • avatar
    phil

    i’ve been down the road of paying bunches of money for that awesome ride you just gotta have. it’s a lot like marrying some gorgeous babe with perfect boobs but not much else.

    several things happen fairly quickly. the punishing ride, shitty mirrors, useless rear seats and yes especially the punishing ride become more and more irritating and THEN a newer, faster, better looking car with not such a shitty ride (like the next M3 or some AMG machine) comes along, your gotta have ride is worth about 50% of what you paid for it, and you kick yourself for being so stupid. (the same occurs for the babe)

    Fortunately, selling the suddenly shitmobile is far easier than divorcing the big tits, and life goes on. for most of us, a car like the 335i is the far better choice for the long term.

  • avatar
    Caffiend

    mechanical heroin… sweet!

    Nice Jonny, classic Farago!

  • avatar
    phil

    reviews like this make it harder and harder to justify the ridiculous prices asked for porsches. this car and certainly the next M3 will blow naturally aspirated 911s into the weeds with enough money left over to get a used Prius for schlepping.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    Great article, creative use of “turgid” and “dinoflagellate” notwithstanding.

    I’d like to see a comparo of the RS4 and my all time shift it yourself 4 door fave, the E39 M5.

    I’ll never undersand why the Germans insist on gearing their cars so short….there’s no need for 80mph to be a 3000 rpm gas guzzling racket with a big V8. You’d think with gas prices what they are in Europe, they would want a Corvette-esque super tall OD to cruise the autobahn.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    Lieberman – god i love audis, i love them all. great review, thanks, i want ur job like now.

    Blunozer – i would never have some thing just cause someone else does not have it. i dont really care what anyone else “has”.

  • avatar
    murphysamber

    It comes in an Avant, and a cabrio! speaking of coming…never mind. I dream of this car. this is what I fantisize about when my girlfriend asks me for the eightieth time if I love her. Everything about the RS4 says “doing lines off a stripper’s ass, while midgets and donkeys dance around the pope doing a strip tease” good time. Can somebody please loan me 80 large? my Jetta is cramping me style, yo.

  • avatar
    yournamehere

    RS4 $66,000
    911 $72,000

    the 911 will likely be much nicer to ride in and be able to keep on any public road with any amateur driver behind the wheel of either car. but if you regularly need a back seat the Audi is a nice choice.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Yournamehere: I’ve driven both.

    The RS4 would leave the 911 for dead. And the M3. And why would a 911 be nicer to ride in? You mean the ride?

    DocV8 — this is an E39 M5 that’s smaller, lighter, with 20 more HP, more revs, better brakes and supernatural grip.

    My only gripe handling/performance-wise is the initial turn in, which is too heavy. Makes my WRX feel like a go-cart. However, if you muscle it, the Audi dances. And hangs on, and hangs on, and hangs on… and hangs on.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    The S4 is a nice car and if I could have afforded one I would have gotten a 04. The RS4 is just a great machine from what I’ve seen. Kudos to Audi.

  • avatar
    wsn

    It’s good to hear that the RS4 kicked the snot out of the Prius. But does it kick the snot out of a M3, or a C55 AMG? Readers need some references to properly feel what you feel. Otherwise, how can we distinguish a RS4 from a Civic, since the latter kicks the snot out of the Prius too?

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    It kicks the snot out of everything.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Just saw your comments on RS4 vs. 911/M3. I am not rich enough to afford either, so I cannot judge the driving dynamics. But, from the looks, I would take a 911 over an RS4 in a heartbeat.

  • avatar
    Cavendel

    I think the EPA should hire Jonny to do some real world testing. I bet he could get the Prius down to 15 mpg.

    Great review.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    jonny.

    The E39 is clearly bigger, and from the sound of it, more comfort oriented than the RS4.

    But there is less than a 100 lb difference in curb weights, and the BMW has far less than 58% of its weight up front. Also, the extra twenty or so peak flywheel HP is needed to offset the increased frictional losses of its AWD layout.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how the extra flexibilty of the 8200 rpm redline and rear biased AWD grip feels compared to my old E39. It sure sounds like this car may be a more worthy successor to the best sport sedan on the planet than BMW’s own new luxofied E60 M5.

  • avatar
    Lantern42

    Jonny, brilliant review.

    I like this car a lot. I got to take a (very brief) drive in one last week. You’re right on all counts. It’s kind of a guilty pleasure. There is NO practical reason to get this car, and this is a part of what makes it so great.

    Out of curiosity, what did you think of the clutch feel? I found it released a little high.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Lantern42:

    The clutch and the stick are pretty, well… bad is not the word, but around town, I’d take a Honda — any Honda — any day.

    That said, once you get on the road and really begin shifting, they are perfect. Speed shifting becomes simple. You can bang your passengers’s heads against the headrests with ease. Which I did. Cause I’m a jerk.

    As far as MPG goes… the first day, in which I burned through a tank of gas in less than 200 miles, I averaged 11.2mpg.

    I knew I could do better, so the next day I got it down to 10.6mpg.

    I’ve never been prouder.

    It’s like what Woody Allen said when asked if he thought sex was dirty, “If you’re doing it right.”

  • avatar
    Mervich

    phil:
    October 27th, 2006 at 10:21 am
    i’ve been down the road of paying bunches of money for that awesome ride you just gotta have. it’s a lot like marrying some gorgeous babe with perfect boobs but not much else.

    several things happen fairly quickly. the punishing ride, shitty mirrors, useless rear seats and yes especially the punishing ride become more and more irritating and THEN a newer, faster, better looking car with not such a shitty ride (like the next M3 or some AMG machine) comes along, your gotta have ride is worth about 50% of what you paid for it, and you kick yourself for being so stupid. (the same occurs for the babe)

    Fortunately, selling the suddenly shitmobile is far easier than divorcing the big tits, and life goes on. for most of us, a car like the 335i is the far better choice for the long term.

    Phil, you sir are certainly an individual possessing vast insight and experience. I salute you! Great post!

    Jonny, your effort here is nothing short of automotive journalistic excellence. Very informative and an extremely entertaining read!

  • avatar
    durailer

    V8….8250rpm….’nuff said

  • avatar
    keepaustinweird

    DADDY LIKE

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    durailer:

    Yep…

  • avatar
    Joe Chiaramonte

    My neighbor is disgustingly financially set for life, and he’s always had TWO Audis in his driveway. His nephew works for a local Audi dealership. He’s been keeping a couple-year-old A4 Quattro as his “beater” and recently traded his nearly-new S4 up for an A8L.

    From the looks of this article, he traded in the wrong direction. I sense a new Audi is soon in his future. Again.

    When he gets one, I’ll head over with a bottle of wine and beg a ride. If the wine’s really good, maybe I’ll get to drive.

    One of your best yet, Jonny.

  • avatar
    Infamous Dr. X

    This was by far the best review Lieberman’s written as long as I’ve been coming here (months and months). Well done! Amusing as all hell…the “war face” bit especially.

    I’ll likely never be able to afford this car, and that’s probably okay. I don’t think I *want* to pilot violence or drive war…but, again, an excellent review.

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    If anyone wants to know why high priced high performance SUVs make no sense, tell me what you gain in a Q7, Cayenne, etc over a RS4 Avant apart from a little added ground clearance.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Well — you can’t buy the RS4 Avant in the USA for one thing.

    But, I would not make the mistake of calling the Q7 high performance. High-ish price, but decidely not a performer.

    The RS4 is Dick Butkus mixed with Greg Louganis.

  • avatar
    RicardoHead

    If memory serves me correctly, Greg Louganis would probably love to get mixed up in a piece of Dick Butkus. Not too sure if the other way around would be what Dick would want.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Greg Louganis, huh? Leaky head gasket, maybe…but you’d have to go with the avant when you talk about putting anything substantial in the rear.

  • avatar
    dean

    Please, Farago, suspend your 800 word limit, just this once, and let the man write another 800 on this car.

    I want more.

  • avatar
    GodBlessTTAC

    Jonny… were you tearing ass on the angels creast in this love machine?

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    I have a feeling GodBlessTTAC is a Narc.

  • avatar

    great review! if you’re driving on the certain 2-mile road I think you are, then 100mph is astounding.

  • avatar
    Joe Chiaramonte

    Jonny – remember: plausible deniability

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    PerfectZero

    All I can say is that “Weeds” is on Showtime Mondays at 10:00 pm ET/PT.

  • avatar
    biturbo

    Nice review, nice car!
    This year was my time for the 2nd car. An RS4 near the 2001 S4 sounded good. I have been in a blue RS4. But…

    1. Heavier
    2. Nose heavy
    3. More expensive
    4. Less power and torque

    So I have got a Corvette Z06 and I have no regrets!
    Sorry Audi… Maybe next time :-)

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Oh, well, yeah — the Z06 is in another class of vehicles altogether.

  • avatar
    biturbo

    Yes, it is a different class.

    But let us agree that when talking about getting a 2nd car the performance and price rule!

    I enjoyed the review Jonny! Lively and colorful. Very good!

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    When i said class, I meant class as in the Z06 is in a class of cars that the RS4 can’t compete with.

    Let’s just say that I’m glad Sajeev got tasked with reviewing the Z06 instead of me, because I’d be all out of hyperbole by paragraph two.

  • avatar

    After reading this one, if I believed in a god I’d pray long and hard for carbon sequestration technology.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    David,

    I’m not that smart; what??

  • avatar
    dean

    Carbon sequestration is a technology where carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is removed and sequestered terrestrially. I believe there are researchers studying the ability of some type of porous rock to entrap and hold carbon dioxide below the surface of the earth.

    In other words, if it works you won’t feel so guilty about the terrible fuel mileage of a hooned RS4.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Ah… yeah, they are using that up in California’s Central Valley to push methane and other natural gasses up to the surface.

    The lightness of your wallet will be much more of an issue than you guilt, I assure you.

  • avatar
    biturbo

    Jonny your review will get far more views and comments. Plus everybody will enjoy it tenfold.

    Sajeev did well, but he criticized the Corvette too much in the looks department. Which is not real. I know, I am biased because I bought one…
    But the vast majority of Z06 reviews are not complaining about the exterior. Z06 is a very good looking car.

    I guess Sajeev didn’t see Tiff Needell’s video prior to the review: “The sounds… the sensations… the feel…”
    Sajeev got one comment and he deserves it.

    What a pity…
    The Z06 needs a second opinion. Robert, please!

  • avatar

    Makes my WRX feel like a go-cart.

    A fellow WRX owner? What year/body type? Any mods? If you want to respond offline, shoot me an email. There’s a world of mods that will take your WRX well into RS4 country for a fraction of the price. I’ll stop before I hijack the thread any further. :)

  • avatar
    GodBlessTTAC

    narc my ass! i was just wondering what you consider your favorit road. i know that one is mine. except when the commuters are going down to palmdale.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    biturbo: the Z06 article was in the old TTAC format, and there was no post counting or comments back then. Considering Left Lane News blogged it, I’m sure the review had plenty of hits.

    I guess Sajeev didn’t see Tiff Needell’s video prior to the review: “The sounds… the sensations… the feel…”
    Sajeev got one comment and he deserves it.

    Be that as it may…but if you expect the Industrial Designer in me to not comment on the Z06′ hideous tacked-on, cost engineered bodywork and that gigantic C6 ass, erase my memory of the stunning 1990 Corvette ZR-1. :-)

    There was a time when refined styling on a widebody Corvette shared space with thrilling performance.

    JL: Excellent review, btw.

  • avatar
    miked

    JL: Best. Review. Evar!

    I’ve always liked the RS4, but never really thought that it was in the running for my midlife crisis car, now it’s at the top of my list. I just need to have a midlife crisis.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Narc: While far from my favorite road, I have a little two mile road that connects one suburb to another. Since the one suburb is one high school football team, and the other is the rival, the two demographically identical mirror images have nothing to do with each other.

    I’ve never even seen another car on the road.

    So, I can do my totally dangerous jackass stuff with my mind at ease because I will only be killing myself.

    Found it quite by accident.

    And a secret it shall stay.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Miked:

    yeah, I was actually thinking about how Audi should market the RS4.

    I would show a middle aged guy in a Solstice with a blond 30-years his junior pull up next to a guy in an RS4.

    They look at each other and the narrator says, “You call that a midlife crisis? This is a midlife crisis!” and then the Audi drops the hammer, they eat his tire smoke, etc.

    Would work with a bunch of cars, actually…

  • avatar
    GodBlessTTAC

    yah yah yah… alright

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    mmmmm ZR-1….anyone want to do a retrospective article on the original Super Vette? ;-)

    Funny how times change…..the original ZR-1 received even more coverage in its day than the new Z06….and now, 17 years later, it has 45 HP less than a friggin Audi sedan, out of a 5.7L DOHC V8 that was (and still is) stunning in its own right.

  • avatar
    windnsea00

    I think these cars look great on the road and sound just as good! However, if I had the money I can’t help but think I would put up the extra $15k for an M5 :)

  • avatar

    And then you’d be the proud owner of the world’s worst gearbox.

  • avatar

    This review was so mouth-watering, I found myself reviewing my bank accounts to see if I could justify moving up from my S4 to this monster. The answer is yes, but I wouldn’t have enough in reserve to pay for defense against the inevitable felonies I’d commit.

    This review is why I come here. Well written Jonny!

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    what is interesting to me is that i have liked audis for 20 years now, after a fine 1985 coupe stole my heart. The new renditions of audis hot rods are overpowered brutes, but still make my mouth water.

    The amazing thing to me that for the first time since like 1976 i actually like the way that corvettes look.

    i must be getting old ( i still have no gold neckchains tho).

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    What does “overpowered” mean?

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    420hp is overpowered

    fun, god knows, but overpowered. Id love to try it out – the coupe that i fel in love with had about 130hp i think, it was lots of fun too.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    The problem with internet forums like this is that all comments look equal to the untrained eye.

    100hp per liter is not underpowered — it’s efficient.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    well i suppose i shouldn’t buy this car because it will gleefully smoke my friends STI, i should buy it becase its a tremendously efficient mode of transportation. Good thing u are around to set me straight on these things. I, a mere internet forum poster, need to be reminded of my place in the grand scheme of things.

  • avatar
    biturbo

    Sajeev, I just don’t get it about the design problem, sorry. Please point me to some reviews supporting it.

    As a “trade”, here is a good read about the Z06:

    New Corvette Z06 makes its fancy European rivals look like puny, overpriced pussies, says Andrew English from Telegraph.co.uk

  • avatar
    Dr. No

    The RS4 is a beast, ready to walk most things on four wheels. But if it’s mechanical heroin, drivers should be aware that the car it capable of a bad experience if you try to drift with it. It’s all or nothing with this 4WD –it will stay stuck or it will challenge your driving instincts with handling you don’t want. I’m not saying its cursed with the old 911 problem, but I’ve seen videos of this car attempting to drift fast corners with the M3, and the RS4 simply can’t. Straight ahead speed is nice, but I’d like to see it run with a M3 on canyon roads. Jonny, how about a comparo like others have suggested. Einstein was right: Everything is relative.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Sajeev, I just don’t get it about the design problem, sorry. Please point me to some reviews supporting it.

    Well I guess you could ask a Porsche fan, but if it doesn’t bother you that’s great.

    But look at the integration of the wide body on a Corvette ZR-1 and tell me you still love your plastic mudflaps. The Z06 is cost engineered, and it doesn’t need to be. Chevy could jack up the price another $7000, give it nicer leather and wider fiberglass fenders to clear the tires and people would still flock to it.

    If you want to continue this, post it on my Z06 review, we need to lay off JL’s handiwork.

  • avatar
    windnsea00

    “Robert Farago:

    And then you’d be the proud owner of the world’s worst gearbox.”

    Personally I like SMG as I know how to treat it, which is like a true manual. It needs finesse, it’s not DSG or an automatic. Also it’s very well suited having 7-speeds to keep that high winding V10 on tap. For the average driver DSG is better but for an enthusiast, SMG should be no problem.

  • avatar
    biturbo

    Sajeev, actually I posted my reply at your Z06 review and here [just in case]. Let’s continue there.
    Thank you.

  • avatar

    You’re right: the SMG shouldn’t be a problem for an enthusiast. But it is.

  • avatar
    windnsea00

    How so? Everyone I have come in contact with has liked SMG on the E46 M3/E60 M5/E63 M6 including myself. The only complaints I hear are over the internet with people were expecting something they could use in Auto mode which it def. lacks in. A super quick lift of the throttle in S5/S6 mode during the shift and back on the throttle when it engages creates a seamless upshift. Have you driven them?

  • avatar

    Read my review.

    As for “everyone you know” approving of the M5’s SMG, you need to get out more. Everyone I know whose driven one can’t stand it (mostly car testers, for what that’s worth).

    Audi has DSG. DSG is as far advanced over the SMG system as an F16 is over an F4.

    News flash: BMW has licensed Borg Warner’s dual-clutch technology (a.k.a. DSG). They know when they’re beat. Again.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Dr. No.

    I don’t know who was driving in these videos, but I — and I am a pretty lousy driver — could run laps around an M3 with an RS4.

    Let me explain it like this — I know a guy who owns a Gallardo and an RS4. He prefers the RS4.

    Boys, this car is that good.

  • avatar
    windnsea00

    Robert Farago:

    Yes, I’ve read numerous reviews on it but I take what editors think with a grain of salt as everyone has different tastes.

    For example many will speak negatively of I-drive but I find it very intuitive once one becomes familiar with it, which takes time. Granted it could be also dependent on age. I grew up with electronics so it’s no big deal.

    DSG is more advance and I have enjoyed it in the Audi A3’s I’ve driven. Granted they didn’t shift nearly as fast as S6 mode but obviously it wasn’t a high performance car. BMW’s similar system under development known as “ZSG” is not a news flash…this has been known for at least a year.

    I guess I may be in the smaller group of the masses who finds SMG fun and well done…however knowing it’s a manual so one must drive it like a manual.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Wind Sea and Farago:

    The RS4 has a pretty sweet gearbox of its own. Six speeds, and a clutch! Sort of clunky around town, but managable. Once you get underway, and especially under hard acceleration, this gear box becomes whipping cream.

    I forget the exact terminology, but you know that technique where you stomp the clutch with all your might and slip your foot out to the left as quickly as possible? The RS4 is supremely set up for doing that.

    Unless you are running on a track against a clock where mili-nano-seconds matter, I prefer — as in me personally — doing the deed me own self.

  • avatar
    Hutton

    windnsea00,
    Something can’t be both intuitive, and “take some time” to learn. These are mutually exclusive. Intuitive means its so well designed, you just know how it works.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Hutton:

    Sort of like the gas-pedal on the RS4.

  • avatar

    Got to give it to you, Jonny, this is probably the best review I’ve read on TTAC. Excellent stuff.

    I’ve never been a fan of Audis because of the nose-heavy thing, but greatly enjoyed the S4. Given that the RS4 takes the S4 and turns it up a couple of notches…shame there’s no wagon.

    About the mirrors, seems you had an RS4 without the Premium Package, which includes auto-dimming for all three. Somehow I’m having a hard time feeling sorry for the discomfort this must have caused you.

  • avatar
    eslai

    I really don’t get it. You’re telling me that this car enabled you to go THIRTY miles an hour faster through turns on your test road than a Boxster?

    Surely this is ludicrous. That is an INSANELY large differential in speed. What gives?

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Karesh — no — I did not in fact have the auto-dimming mirrors — what I meant was that the mirrors are too small. Very poor reward visibility, but since you are passing everything anyhow, who cares?

    Esla — What gives is the fact that this is a rocket ship. Meaning that I could get the car up to that speed in the space available before the corners — and carry much of it through.

    The grip of this car is insane. Just… not normal.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    “This car kicks the snot out of everything.”

    Not quite. If this car is as uncomfortable as indicated in the article and is “just” a a car with great acceleration and road handling as it’s only redeeming qualities, I’ve got a road-legal car, at least in California and a few other states, that will blow the Audi’s doors off, the Ariel Atom. A 1,000 pound car with a 300 hp engine. It hugs the road like no other car and can go from 0 to 60 in under 3 seconds. The top speed is drag limited to 155 mph, but how often do you find yourself topping 155 mph even at the track. It’s completely impractical, but we’re talking about second cars for tooling around the back roads at ridiculous speeds, or in the case of the Atom anyway, whipping a Porsche Carrera GT at the track. Oh, and the Atom costs less than the Audi and much less than the Carrera.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Lumbergh21:

    Funny you should mention that — I was hanging and hooning with Frank from autblog.com (I know, i know…) and he was telling me how this, that and the other the supercharged Atom is.

    Then I let him drive the RS4.

    He didn’t mention the Atom again for the rest of the night. Nor the Koeniggsegge he had driven right after the Stig crashed it.

    Everything.

  • avatar
    biturbo

    Lumbergh21,
    Atom is obviously a way better performer, because it is so light. But it does not belong in a comparison with the RS4. Here are some reasons:
    * Atom is an open-wheeler
    * RS4 is road-legal everywhere as the Atom is NOT in most states/countries
    * Atom is a track-day toy, while RS4 is a year-round performer extraordinaire
    * The 300 HP engine in the Atom needs a full rebuild after ~40 hours of racing [because it is pushed]. The RS4 engine will last a lifetime.
    * All aside, the RS4 it is way easier to drive fast than the Atom. It takes serious skills to handle a light car with such a great power to weight ratio.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    The Atom also lacks a windshield.

    You all know how I feel about power windows and air-conditioned seats.

    I won’t even look at a “car” without a windshield.

  • avatar
    biturbo

    Jonny, hope you’re joking about power windows and air-conditioned seats :-)

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Not at all.

    The Audi needs air conditioned seats.

    Black leather in California is hot, hot, hot.

  • avatar
    kovachian

    I really hate to say this, but…cars like this make me grateful for poor resale, it gives me a shimmer of hope that I may be able to aquire a pre-owned RS4. Unfortunately Audi’s image revamping may change the resale factor, and the RS4 definitely isn’t working against that goal.

  • avatar
    chanman

    Jonny: Did you guys consider packing some ballast in the back to even out the weight? A couple rucksacks of bowling balls, for example?

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Doesn’t need it.

    Handles as good as any car on the road.

  • avatar
    skeptic

    Is this car really as good as all that? Worth the extra $14 grand (Canadian) over an M3 CS without frivolous options? $19 grand difference if the RS4 has the premium package!

    In EVO’s comparison (RS4 vs M3 vs C55), after two days of hard driving, they said of the RS4: The ride, so unflustered and reassuring until now, deteriorates as our commitment grows. Of the M3 CS they said: Forty-eight hours later, the deft balance, awesome adjustability and sheer exuberance of the M3 CS seemed insurmountable. These are guys who know their cars!

    In a comparo by Autocar (RS4 vs Cayman S vs M3 CS), they said: Yes, it was outperformed by the Cayman and BMW on lap time, but the difference was marginal. At least we’ll concede that it was close.

    So the RS4 is good, but perhaps not as good as your sensationalist review would have us believe. All you did was bash around in the car for a bit and then give us your furious first impressions. Would those impressions last if you had the car for a few months?

    As for Dr. No’s boast that he “could run laps around an M3 with an RS4″, we all know that this is pure BS. I’ll bet he’s driven neither car.

  • avatar
    quantimouse

    skeptic:

    Spoken like someone who’s never driven the car. You want someone with more than a few days of driving, let me help you out. I own the car, I have 5500 miles on it and I can have any car I want. I’ve driven the M3, the new 335i, the 997 C4S, the Cayman S, the CTS-V, the E90 M5, the C55 AMG, bla bla bla.. Sorry, none of those cars provide the package of the RS4.

    The EVO comparison to the M3 CS is not the whole story. Of course the RS4 will never feel as nimble as the lighter M3 CS, but its also roughly 10x more practical with its extra doors, Quattro AWD, more airbags and a much posher interior. And let’s not forget the exhaust note which is pretty sad on the M3.

    But that doesn’t matter, the RS4 still beats the famed M3 CS in every single performance contest. What is behind EVO’s preference for the M3? Old school mindset probably. Despite the almost universal praise the RS4 has engendered in the world auto press, there are still some who will live and die with the blue and white propeller tatooed to their head.

    As far as Autocar’s comparo to the Cayman S, that is pretty ridiculous. The Cayman S is in a class below the RS4 in everything other than handling. And it wins there because it eschews any sense of practicality and has a mid engined chasis that is one of the best available today in a production car. I’ve driven the Cayman S, and there is no way I would trade it for the RS4. But to compare a mid-engine coupe 2 seater and a RWD platform to a compact AWD Sports sedan is pretty stupid. At least the M3 has four seats.

    If you want to know how good the RS4 truly is and can’t get ahold of one to drive, then read the July 06 Road and Track. They pitted the RS4 against the 997 C4S and for good reason. It’s closer to the 911’s performance and both have AWD.

    The scans of the R&T article can be read from this Rennlist thread:

    http://forums.rennlist.com/rennforums/showthread.php?t=281433

    If you want to watch the RS4 run laps around the M3, watch the 5th Gear episode with Tiff Needle doing just that in the RS4.

    Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4Uzf1dtYmU
    Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3BCUNARokY

    If you want more evidence of how good this car is, it’s interesting to note how many people are cross shopping the RS4 with the new M5 until the new M3 shows its face.

    Even Jeremy Clarkson, who has never been a fan of Audi for performance car selection, said it absolutely beats the current M3 “hands down” and the new M3 will have to “come with it’s own moon”. In a follow up column he wrote about the Cabriolet version of the RS4, he said after driving it at length he still could not find any flaw with it, and he conceded he is an ultra critical person.

    You can watch the two part Top Gear review of the RS4 here:

    Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sc78RszZmtI
    Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPGTG6y0ajM

    There just is no performance comparison to be made between cars like the Cayman S and the E46 M3 CS.

    That doesn’t mean you can’t find old stalwarts who prefer those cars, but they don’t prove in any sense that those cars are as good as or better than the RS4.

  • avatar
    skeptic

    Oops, sorry Dr. No! I must have been cross-eyed. It was Jonny who bragged that he could run laps around the M3. I agree with Dr. No about the canyon roads. I think the RS4 driver’s palms would be sweating.

  • avatar
    quantimouse

    drivers should be aware that the car it capable of a bad experience if you try to drift with it. It’s all or nothing with this 4WD –it will stay stuck or it will challenge your driving instincts with handling you don’t want. I’m not saying its cursed with the old 911 problem, but I’ve seen videos of this car attempting to drift fast corners with the M3, and the RS4 simply can’t. Straight ahead speed is nice, but I’d like to see it run with a M3 on canyon roads.

    This is wrong, wrong wrong wrong! The RS4 is not an old school muscle car that can only run fast in a straight line. My goodness, it has an official ‘Ring lap time of 8:09. You have got to be kidding me!

    It will eat an M3 CS in the canyons. As far as drifting, do you mean it in the sense that its being done today by the “kids”? Or do you mean you can never get the tail out on the RS4? Because drifting is not something any of these cars aspire to, and if you mean the latter, you are wrong again. The RS4 can have its tail tuck out if you turn off both traction control program levels (they are fully 100% defeatable).

    Nothing is a substitute for actually driving this car, but I guess that won’t stop some armchair experts from lavishing cliched criticisms of a car they’ve never drive and likely never will.

    Why never will? Oh, the other great thing about this RS4, they are production limited to 700 per year for the US for 3 years only. Unlike the M3, where everyone and their grandmother is driving one, the RS4 will remain a semi-exotic car that will always impress both its owners and those who come in contact with it.

  • avatar
    skeptic

    quantimouse:

    Tiff didn’t lap the M3. He was only able to just stay ahead. Mind you, that looked like a pretty twisty track. I’ll concede that the RS4 would leave the M3 for dust on a track with longer staightaways. It’s a testament to the aging M3 platform that it can still (almost) hold it’s own against the likes of the more expensive RS4!

  • avatar
    skeptic

    Oh, and Tiff also said that he suspected that his compatriot was having more “fun” in the M3.
    Read Jeremy Clarkson’s review (Timesonline) of the M3 CS, and his conclusion.

  • avatar
    quantimouse

    Just stay ahead? He never had to shake off the M3, it just couldn’t keep up. It wasn’t what you’d call a close race.

    There are of course many different types of tracks, short tracks that favor handling will always enable a lighter car to stay closer to a faster heavier car.

    The thing is that the spread between the M3 and the RS4 in handling is not so great that any course would favor the M3. We’re not talking about a Lotus here, it’s an M3.

    As far as the RS4 costing so much more, there’s a lot going on here. For one, the car is a limited production car, for two, the car has a much higher quality interior which costs more, for three, it has 20 hours of handbuilt labor put into it, and then it has two extra doors, more safety technology and is built on a racebred FSI technology. The idea that the RS4 is somehow overpriced strikes me as a stretch.

    Maybe if all your’e looking for is a trackable weekend car, then the RS4 is not your gal. The car is the ultimate daily driver, all year/all weather sports sedan that can be taken to the track a few times each year and run with any of the big dogs (911).

    Look, I’m not taking anything away from what the M3 accomplished during its reight, but make not mistake about it, it’s reign is over. Even European Car headlined their review of the car with the title “Regime Change”.

  • avatar
    quantimouse

    Oh, and Tiff also said that he suspected that his compatriot was having more “fun” in the M3.”

    You know what, that word fun is pretty subjective. You could use that point to say that you can have “more fun” in a Mazda MX-5 (Miata), since its a get the wheel loose and tight turning type of car. Which would you rather have, a MX5 or an RS4?

    There are different types of fun to be had. If someone says to me they prefer the personality of an M3 over the RS4, I can respect that. But that already concedes that the RS4 outperforms the M3 in every single performance category, and then on top of that in practicality, safety and many would say quality and style.

    Believe me, I have driven all of these cars. There is only one car I would trade my RS4 for and that is the 997 C4S. Not because its much better, but because it’s as good as and better in different ways. Instead I plan on adding the 997 to go alongside the RS4, that is if I don’t go with the R8 instead.

    I know it’s hard given the Audi history, but people are going to have to come to grips with the new Audi and what they are bringing to the table. The meals they are serving right now are just more plentiful and tasty than anything else out there.

  • avatar
    skeptic

    O.K., enough, enough! I’ve got my chequebook in hand and I’m out the door!

  • avatar
    quantimouse

    O.K., enough, enough! I’ve got my chequebook in hand and I’m out the door!

    Heheh.. Nothing like a good spirited auto debate. In the end nobody will be for want if they own any of the aforementioned cars right?

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    If I might… The M3 is a fantastic car and if you can afford one get one. But the RS4 is in another league, so yes, it is worth the extra cash.

    While the numbers to 60mph might be very similar, the M3 feels like a fast car, whereas the RS4 feels like somebody strapped an SR-71 engine to the trunk. As speed builds, the Audi feels faster and faster and you swear that the atmosphere behind you has been ignited and is being used for extra boost.

    Forget “fun.”

    Think “violence.”

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Also, what quantimouse said.

    Times three.

  • avatar

    Wow, I am speechless, such a great article. I cannot give enough praise for the article, and even more so for the car.

  • avatar
    quantimouse

    Yeah I got so worked up by some of the detractors and doubters that I neglected to give praise where it was due for such an excellent piece of writing.

    You did a good job of describing the exileration of the car and reading your piece felt almost like driving it – almost :)

    One thing I’d add about the car that you didn’t touch upon is the way in which the engine is so rev-happy. You’ll find it so eager to rev up to the 8200rpm limit. Not only that, but it doesn’t matter which gear you shift to, you’ll find the power is there waiting for you. It’s easily one of the most versatile engines ever made.

    Unlike a VTEC which won’t come alive until 7K, this car has plenty torque down low, and just becomes a different monster after 4k.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    quantimouse:

    Absolutely correct.

    In my first draft i believe i had something about most engines feeling like they are ready to implode above 4,000rpm and that they will only reluctantly climb up to redline. Whereas in teh RS4, the engine is asleep below 4,000 (though still full of torque) and feels much better the higher you rev it.

    I will add that it is one of the best production engines ever made, and without doubt the best I’ve ever driven.

    Also — thanks for the kind words. Though, this one sort of wrote itself.

  • avatar
    navin078

    nurburgring lap time (simple google search)

    M3 CSL – 7:50
    Audi RS4 – 8:09

    not sure what the US M3 CS’ (different from the europe only CSL) lap time is. but if the old M3 CSL was almost 20 seconds quicker, I dont see how the RS4 can “eat the M3 CS in a canyon”. better – believable, quicker – believable, but is the difference between M3 CS and M3 CSL that huge, that one of them is that much quicker and the other one gets walked all over?

    awesome review btw

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    OK, seriously — stop this lap time nonsense.

    Would you seriously buy a car based solely on the fact that it goes around a German-track slightly faster than another car?

    Also, if you look at other Google results, you will see sub-8 minutes laps.

    And who was driving each car?

    Anyhow — RS4 > BMW M3.

    For now.

  • avatar
    quantimouse

    not sure what the US M3 CS’ (different from the europe only CSL) lap time is. but if the old M3 CSL was almost 20 seconds quicker, I dont see how the RS4 can “eat the M3 CS in a canyon”. better – believable, quicker – believable, but is the difference between M3 CS and M3 CSL that huge, that one of them is that much quicker and the other one gets walked all over?

    Sport Auto magazine posted an 8:22 ‘Ring time for the E46 M3 (not CS,not CSL). I do not see a time for the CS package.

    In any event, the CSL cannot be compared to the RS4, BMW rebuilt that car specifically for the track (to be lighter, carbon fiber this+that, etc), eschewing the luxury and safety of what is offered in the regular M3 and the RS4. It’s just not the same thing.

    Then Frank Stippler claims he drove the RS4 around the ‘Ring in 7:59. Believe whatever time that you want, but the RS4 is easily faster around any track than the M3, and that will stand until the new M3 comes out…. some day.

    Jonny is right. It would be somewhat foolish to pick amongst these cars based on that time, however for the point of illustrating where the RS4 stands, especially to those above who thought the RS4 driver’s hands “would be sweating”.. Well, we’ve come a long way since that post haven’t we?

    Jonny, looking forward to your eventual write up on the forthcoming R8. Same engine, lighter car with better weight distribution and lower center of gravity. It probably makes an additional 20hp over what Audi is claiming (due to the dry sump). Can’t wait to see all the wincing from BMW fans when that car ships here next fall…

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    quantimouse:

    Thanks — I’ll be sure to let Audi know how you feel about me and the R8.

  • avatar
    Quo Vadis

    Jonnny,
    An excellent article for an excellent car. I can’t help laughing out loud when I read things like, “Forget violence, you are now driving war.” Excellent!!
    You must have been pretty stoked when you got out of the car because it appears that you wrote the article straight away. Vehicular afterglow was evident.
    This is why we read TTAC. You put us in the driver’s seat.
    QV

  • avatar
    navin078

    jonny, laptimes dont directly come into consideration. its all about bragging rights – i want the company that makes my car (currently a 330i) to be the company that makes the best performance car of its kind in the world. like so many have alluded to – admitting that the title has passed is hard. the only excuse we beemerphiles can hide behind is that we (i) havent driven this car, so we’ll (i’ll) reserve judgement.

    then of course, there is the fallback rationalisation that my 330i is better than the Audi A4, especially if you like to row it yourself. the whole “my car is better than your car” thing will never end. and there will be no more fun left in this world if/when it does.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    navin078:

    Understood.

    The problem is, the RS4 is better than any BMW ever built.

    Drive one and report back to me.

  • avatar
    BrendanMac

    And what about the RS4 Avant please? Just as viciously fast, but provides a cloaking device for your Romulan Bird of Prey.

    Sort of.

  • avatar
    the_agent_e

    Great, great review.

    The problem is, the RS4 is better than any BMW ever built.

    As a propellerhead, it stings to hear that, but facts is facts: it seems undeniable that if going hell-for-leather mortally fast with 4 seats is your passion, the RS4 is your car.

    For me, at (now) about half the price, an e46 M3 is a lot of thrill in a package that is just this side of practical. But if money were no object, the RS4 would already be in my driveway. For the no-holds-barred crowd, it just seems to be more of… well, everything.

    JL, any thoughts on whether the next-gen v8-powered M3 will be in the same ballpark as the RS4? That seems a fairer benchmark than the nearly 5 year old e46….

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Well… if BMW gets the steering and the transmission right, it should blow the doors off of the Audi. I can’t wait.

    We know that it will be lighter — I would guess 400 to 500 pounds lighter with similar (if not more) power.

    Considering that the 335i is already hitting sixty in less than five, the M3 should get down to Corvette levels (4.0 flat).

    The current M3 is a very nice car — but this Audi… just a different class of vehicle.

  • avatar
    quantimouse

    Well… if BMW gets the steering and the transmission right, it should blow the doors off of the Audi. I can’t wait.

    I wouldn’t expect it to blow the doors off the RS4, although I would expect it to win by some margin in all of the categories for the reasons you listed.

    It will be lighter because a) it will only be a two door car for the initial year (4dr M3 will be a year later) and b) it will be RWD only, so it will save weight in the transmission.

    I would still take the RS4 over the eventual M3 for the reasons listed (4 doors, Quattro) and because it will almost be gauranteed to look much better inside and out. And on top of that it will remain much more exclusive in its limited quantity vs. the widespread production numbers of the M cars.

    However, by the time the new M3 actually makes it here, I hope to have taken delivery of the R8. Granted its not a fair price comparison, but I think Audi is now a step ahead of BMW going forward. Nothing is guaranteed of course but it’s a good time to be a fan of the four rings. Propeller heads will not go for want, but their days of total dominance are pretty much over.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Well, as the R8 is without doubt the ugliest vehicle to be released this decade, I think you should retract your comment about about the RS4 looking better than the M3.

    However, as the current 3-Series is the second ugliest vehicle this decade… what is wrong with die Germans?

  • avatar
    quantimouse

    Hmm, I don’t understand, you are saying you are not a fan of the RS4’s looks? I’ve had nothing but compliments on it so far and I personally love its looks better than old or new BMWs.

    The R8’s looks are subjective. I think they are more prone to displease some because they are riskier. But in my view they succeed for the most part, where as BMW’s Bangal designs have failed despite their best intentions.

    I wouldn’t be shocked to hear people are not uniformly crazy for the R8’s looks, but I would be surprised to hear that less than 9 out of 10 find the RS4’s looks to be beautiful.

    If the new M3 looks anything like the 335i, then they will join the Honda Civic look alike contest but with amazing performance.

    Again, this is all personal tastes, I understand that.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    The RS4 is fine looking — not great, not bad — very generic. Though, I think the “whatever” design adds to the Q-Factor.

    The R8 is hideous. Just… beyond bad. I cringe from every angle.

    The 3-series is nearly as bad… plain lousy, really.

    The 5-series is a decent effort, though too pinched and too angry.

    The 7-Series is gorgeous — I really think it is a timeless design that will eventually be appreciated for what it is — a classic.

  • avatar
    quantimouse

    You think the new current Bangal 7 series “gorgeous” or are you refrering to the old one?

    If so, that would explain our different tastes. I think the RS4 is gorgeous and the 7 and 5 Bangal designs are hideous. The new 5 has a rear end that is so pinched and big that its an eye soar.

    And then to make things weirder, I happen to think that the 3 series (the new one) is the only one that “gets away with” the bangal design without making me want to puke. I also can tolerate the Z and M Coupe with the bangal design as well.

    It’s funny you think the RS4 is generic. I thought it was going to elicit that response as well, but I’ve since lost count of the hundreds if not thousands of people at gas stations, sidewalks, etc. who’ve been caught in a bambi in headlights-like stare at this car.

    Go figure eh?

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    It looks incredibly muscular, but I have a friend who knows nothing about cars. Not a thing.

    He only buys cars based on he [i]thinks[/i] women will perceive him.

    He really didn’t like the looks of the RS4.

    “$70,000? How will anyone know you’ve spent $70,000?”

    The new 3 is dreadful. It is a cop out — a half measure. The 7 is a stunning design statement — a victory. The 5 is a misfire — especially the hood — but at least trying.

    The 3… double yuck.

  • avatar
    quantimouse

    All I can say is that on numerous occassions I’ve had women staring out of their husband’s 911s at the RS4 while their hubbies looked off in dismay. This has happened on 3 seperate occassions, I am not making this up, too bad I’m married, heh. Three seperate occassions.

    I’ve also had guys at gas stations call the RS4 a “panty dropper” and warn me that the car will wreck my marriage. Women notice this car wherever I drive it. Again, not that I care, I had no way of expecting this attention from this car.

    I think your friend not only has no clue about cars, but probably has no clue about women either :)

    And I respect your car credentials Jonny, but if you think new 7 series is a stunning design statement, and not a toaster oven on wheels, then I don’t know what to say. We disagree I guess.

    The 3 series sedan is “OK” by me. The new 3 series coupe on the other hand is a miserable joke.

  • avatar

    Well, after scouring the internet for the last year reviewing every spec/article/photo about the new RS4, I can say this article is the most fun version I’ve ever read. It really captures what the car is all about, and what I try to explain to my wife and friends (almost daily as I further annoy them with details about a toy they’ll never understand).

    There is no reason to have this car, it blows its own doors off and it guzzles too much gas………but that is what an enthusiast kind of vehicle is…..and it takes one to know one.

    I had the pleasure of riding in one at the Audi Driving Experience (where I took 3 times more than my fair share of lap turns with the pro-driver – just to hear it wind up), I can tell you that this car is the real deal.

    I am an american muscle car fan so the comments about the Z06 are relevant. The Z06 is amazing car for the value but there is something “up” with the the branding of a vette, just like the comments about the Porsche too. The branding of the vette is such that in two years you’ll have to have to latest vette to retain the “presence” of the vehicle and with Porsche, they haven’t changed their body style in uh……never. Its essentially the same frame for 100 years………especially in silver or dentist copper (sorry porsche fans).

    I grew up with my dad’s 67 vette’s, mustang cobra’s and yes even an el camino with copper rims and I can tell you this car is all the muscle but you get the fancy interior too. It makes you feel special everyday you get in it, even though let’s face it, you aren’t, you’re just another toolbag on the freeway of life……but at least you can CRUSH anyone else on the road with the flick of the pedal.

  • avatar
    quantimouse

    especially in silver or dentist copper (sorry porsche fans)

    LOL.. That’s got to be a classic.

  • avatar
    Buzzo

    Ok, I own an E46 M3 and have driven the M5, M6 & M3 CS on track days. Yesterday, I took an RS4 for a 1 Hour Test Drive and here are my thoughts:

    M3 SMG
    1. The M3 has the hardest shifting & fastest gearbox on the market.
    2. M3 has the hardest revving engine in this catagory.
    3. M3 is 6 Years old and still develops more than 100BHP/Litre.
    4. M3 is very adjustable on the track at the limit. Great feedback.
    5. Overall a very RAW and Focused package.

    RS4
    1. Wow, what an engine, the sound is incredible. Revs damn hard.
    2. Great spark cut rev limiter. Makes driving this hard an aurale pleasure.
    3. AWD still gives understeer on the limit even with the 60% rear bias.
    4. Gearbox is primitive and slow compared to SMG.
    5. Gearshifts are subdued and dampened.
    6. It maybe faster than the M3 but it feels a little to refined. M3 feels more ferocious.

    So, will the NEW BMW M3 have the goods?
    I doubt it. The 4.0 V8 will not match the output per litre of the S51 3.2L. This is a jewel of an engine.

    Should AUDI futher develop the Quattro system to reduce understeer?
    Yes, AUDI will need to develop AWD similar to the Porsche 911 Turbo (997) System or Lambo system. On the limit, these AWD system feel like a rear wheel drive. Audi need to address this fast.

    Is BMW dead?
    Unfortunately, I think so. They make great engines and gearboxes (SMG II/III) BUT Audi has the better overall package and finer attention to detail.

    What about the R8?
    I’ve actually just ordered one. I was the first order at my dealership. I hope the R-Tronic gearbox shifts hard and I hope understeer doesn’t spoil my day. Fingers crossed for Aug 2007 Delivery!!

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    Buzzo,

    The M3 motor is an S54, not S51, and why does HP/liter define how good a motor is?

    Using that flawed logic, the Honda S2000 engine is superior to the S54 (120 hp/liter), and we all know that’s not true….it’s all about area under the curve, unless you live in Japan where larger motors get hit with the displacement tax.

    Anyway, considering that the M5/M6 make 100 HP/liter from their 5 liter V10s, and there is already a 300+ HP 335i turbo, I have no doubt that the next M3’s V8 will have 400+hp from its 4 liters…but more importantly, it will out torque the S54’s piddling 262 lb ft or torque.

  • avatar
    quantimouse

    Buzzo, congrats on your R8 order, I too am first at my dealership, looking forward to being first on the road :)

    About understeer in Audis. You are incorrect about the reasons, it has nothing in the case of the RS4 to do with AWD, and it has everything to do with the front weight bias, given that the 4.2L engine is sitting ahead of the front axel.

    The AWD is not the limiting factor, and you also are mistaken, although the torque split is 60/40, the RS4 can give up to 100% of it’s torque to the rear when needed.

    It’s true that the 911 defaults in the opposite way, by giveing only 5% up front and then gradually giving more as needed, where as the RS4 starts out 60/40 in normal conditions and dials back torque when needed.

    In either case, the R8 will NOT have understeer. For holy moly sakes, its engine is in the middle, it will be nearly perfectly balanced and it uses the AWD system from the Gallardo, which according to the head designer of the R8 defaults to a rough average of 70% torque in the rear and up to 100% where needed.

    New review in Evo magazine has him quoted as saying that when the ECS is turned off, the car will oversteer like a Lambo and you can induce powerslides easily.

    Make no mistake, the R8 will not fail to dissapoint on these points, and forthcoming changes to the B8 platform will put the engine slightly further back over the front axel to help weight distribution.

    Now to address your points about the RS4. It is supposed to be a more refined car, it is a luxury performance car first, not a track car. I prefer the smooth gearbox, you call it dambpened, I call it like butter. I love it. I say that recognizing that technically the M3 gearbox is a better gearbox for the track.

    As far as understeer in the RS4, it can be dialed out if you want to track the car by changing cambre settings, as well as installing a Stasis motorsport suspension using much stiffer spring rates in the front and rear. Default DRC in the RS4 has low spring rates since DRC does a mock job of countering motion through it’s hydraulic system.

    The RS4 is perfect for what it is. I’m not sure what you mean the M3 has hardest revving. What does that mean? The RS4 revs easily, its just throwing itself at the limiter.

    I look forward to the R8, however mine will be with a gated shifter. Why did you chose R-Tronic (aka modified Lambo EGear?)

  • avatar
    Buzzo

    doctorv8:

    The M3 motor is an S54, not S51, and why does HP/liter define how good a motor is?

    My mistake. You’re correct. Let’s leave forced induction out of the debate for the moment. I think HP/Liter is a good measure on how much design and development has gone into an engine. Think about F1. If I am spending serious dollars on a car, I want to know every effort has been made to extract as much HP/Litre as possible. In my view, if you’re not producing at least 100HP/Litre in 2006, you’re not serious about your “performance product”

    However, it’s all about personal preference. I LOVE Naturally Aspirated engines that rev hard & fast, with instant throttle response. Engines that scream and wail all they way to redline! That’s what I believe a serious engine should be, in the purist form.

    I’ve owned a yellow S2000 back in 2001 and yeah I agree. No torque. Which makes it a bit of a dog on the street, but keep it spinning above 6k and it’s lots of fun.

    And yes, you’re correct. The M5 and M6 do produce more than 100HP/L and using this logic, I would expect the New M3 to match this formula.

    BUT, one thing I have noticed, the NEW M3 will certainly be much heavier than the E46 and so, I’m concerned about what this might do to overall performance.

    From a design perspective though, BMW have definately dropped the ball. If the New M3 looks anything like the 335i, then I don’t want it. It looks like a Civic/Lexus from the rear.

    quantimouse

    Yes, I hope the mid-engine in the R8 does solve the understeer problem and I agree the RS4 suffers due to the engine being up front.

    Hopefully the R8 will share as much tech as possible from the Lambo and it will be an awesome machine!

    I chose the R-Tronic because I love BMW SMG II so much, I can’t go back to a standard Manual Gearbox!!

    I haven’t driven a Gallardo yet, so I’m not sure what their E-Gear is like, but I’ve heard it shifts hard.

    Good luck with the R8!

  • avatar
    quantimouse

    I agree the RS4 suffers due to the engine being up front.

    Well let me say as someone who has had 4+ months in my RS4, its understeer just isn’t there unless you are taking it to 10/10ths on a track. Do you really plan on tracking an RS4 more than once or twice a year? And that understeer doesn’t mean it underperforms, it just means it gives up a bit of it’s perfection at the highest extremes. The RS4 is nothing short of magic and masterpiece.

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    Buzzo,

    HP/Liter fans always cite F1, but the fact is, they have no choice due to regulations on displacement, so they have to conform to the sanctioning bodies whims to remain legal.

    Please go drive a lowly 70 HP per liter C6 Z06 that happens to make well over 500 HP and get better mileage than a 330 HP E46 M3 and tell me if it is a “serious performance product.” Incidentally, the Z06’s 7 liter motor weighs the same or less than the iron block S54, and is dimensionally more compact, despite having over double the displacement. It avoids the gas guzzler tax while still running 11 second quarter miles and near 200 mph at the big end.

    Don’t get me wrong, the S54 is a wonderful motor, but it is to the Z06’s LS7 what the S2000 is to the S54.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    How on earth did you get the RS4 to understeer?

    I tried really, really hard.

    With the Traction Nanny off, the rear-end just slid in full blow oversteer.

    What were you doing?

  • avatar
    Buzzo

    Admittedly, it was a double apex second gear corner. I normally get my M3 to drift a little to maintain corner speeds.

    I probably came in a little too hot and that’s why I got a little understeer into the first corner and couldant really hang it out into the second apex.

    I only had the RS4 for an hour, so probably don’t know how to drive it properly.

    My point being, is the RS4 seemed liked it was dialled in with some underster for safety while the M3 would pretty much do whatever you want.

    Either way, it wasn’t an extensive test. Just an observation. I’ve got my order in for the R8, so let’s hope this banger kicks ass!

  • avatar

    Good posts by Buzzo, DrV8 and Quantimouse.

    It’s fun to debate the various performance factors and in the end it is all preference. It reminds me of the eBay ad where two guys are sitting and they are considering selling their lime green VW bug and the one guy says to the other, “Who would want that thing!?”…….then they list it and the next scene is of a guy sitting at his lime green PC in his all lime green house/room and he sees the lime bug go for sale on line and just goes mad clicking to purchase it – there’s something for everyone.

    If anyone of you with the R8’s are ever cruising through Seattle, I’m going to need to request a pitstop for a “demo” ride and discussions about how many times you evaded the cops on your way to Seattle. :)

    My two cents on cars:

    M3: Great car.
    M3: 07/08 – scary appearance, probably decent performance.

    M5: previous bodystyle: awesome, the rims are nice.
    M5: 06: ok but still too close to the lame 3 series body.

    Z06: crazy fast car for the money, decent looks. Needs to be updated every few years though so it looks fresh and not like Night Rider.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Buzzo — OK, goo to know.

    Like I said, I tried really hard, and could only get it to understeer when in second gear going through a turn of 90 degrees or more.

    Though I think that had more to do with having to brake like mad and get the wheel turned than it did with the chassis.

    I’ve taken slower cars through the same corners — like the Fusion — and they can handle it no problem, but the RS$ is so damn fast that it builds up too much speed on the straights and for my meager driving skillz.

  • avatar
    agmathai

    This is probably way too late to be chiming in, but Jonny – “better than any BMW ever”? I’m smitten by the RS4’s faboulous on the road performance as well and throughly enjoyed your review but to unequivocally declare it better than an M3 CSL, M6, or even an E39 M5 needs a little more support IMO….

    Here’s a fun little vid of an RS4(avant) v. CSL drag race
    http://www.revlovers.com/pages/videos:show:vidid,264?p=

    And 5th gear’s comparision of the two doesn’t reflect the utter dominance you proclaim either.

    I know TTAC hasn’t done a head to head yet, but I think RS4 v. M3 would be a great way to get that party started (preferably with comments from both you and Farago…).

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    We’ll get on that.

    Still, if the E39 M5 is the best BMW ever, the simple fact is that the RS4 is more powerful, has a smaller engine, revs higher, is faster, handles better, is lighter (not by much) and when new cost less.

  • avatar
    Universal

    Jonny,

    I have long been eligible for a mid-life crisis, and some would say that I now have more money than sense. After testing the Arnage and Flying Spur (a fabulous car), I decided against the wanton excess of Bentley (for now), and I followed the predictable M3, M5 and M6 path. All are quite superb, but when a man my age drives one of those cars, he is proudly announcing his testosterone deficiency……all the more if he tries to squeeze into a Porsche.

    Your review inspired me to take a look at the RS4, and I now own one. It’s been about 2 weeks, and I have barely 1,000 miles on it, but the car has become a consuming passion. The “vulgar joy” of driving the car is magnified by its unforgettable sound….a mechanical symphony….and the car defies the laws of gravity.

    My 16-year old motorhead son lusts mightily for the car, but he will not touch it until I am dead and in the ground. On second thought, I want to be buried with the car. Cheers and thanks for an inspiring review…..Audi should put you on salary.

  • avatar
    Ybnrmol

    Jonny or Robert,

    Could comment on the decision by AUDI to not import the Cabriolet version of the RS4? And what could be done to make them change their mind?

    Thanks,

    PS: Great review…

  • avatar
    allwheeldrive

    Jonny,
    What an unbeleivable review! I have just signed up and will collect my 2007 RS4 this Thursday. I can’t explain how I feel right now, something between excited and nervous I guess. It is my third Audi, but the first one in this category. The salesman told me that the car can behave like a rallye car or like a civilised saloon. Can it really do the civilised saloon bit? I was too shocked during the test drive to notice much else than the mind-boggling roaring sound of the v8.

  • avatar
    SARAGURL

    I wanna get an audi!! lol sounds just amazing,

    myspace.com
    saweet.com

  • avatar
    Valencia

    Mr. Lieberman

    My hats off to you. This is automotive journalism perfection. You have captured the true essence of what a car like the RS4 is about, and for that I applaud you.

    It is a rare occasion to read an automotive review and be left giggling like the 6 year old boy I once was, and scared at the same time of V8 monster on the loose.

    Congrats Johnny

  • avatar
    Huggybear1

    Gents

    I have recently purchased a 2007 RS4 and have yet to go through the 6k mark on the speedo, I traded up from a BMW 335 Coupe. This is my first Audi having been a BMW man for a long time and all i will say is, it will be a long long tine before i considering going back, Whilst i am mile late in the response to the review i am still in dreamland as to what this Imola Yellow Flying machine is capable of. We do not see much American Muscle over here in the UK however the competition from Mercedes / BMW in my opinion are not close in terms of the overall year round performance and that includes the new M3 and the C63 AMG, all you have to do is put a little water on the surface and then ask where the M3 & AMG are in comparison.

  • avatar
    zaphon

    I must say after stumbling upon this review, it truly describes the feelings I felt after I got behind the wheel of my 2008 Audi RS4 that I bought about 4 weeks ago. I guess I am suffering from that midlife crisis, but my family and I went into an Audi dealer looking for something that “I would enjoy driving” and would also be practical for the family.

    I drove the S8, and it’s an absolute beast, but the head room in it just is obnoxious (I’m 6’0″ tall and felt VERY CRAMPED in the S8). My wife who is very claustrophobic couldn’t stand it.

    However she fell in love with the Q7 with the full panoramic sunroof. So we bought it. While we were waiting to get it, I was wandering around when I see the RS4 sitting at the front of the show room. So I ask to take it for a test drive (they have to literally remove every car from the showroom to get it out), and I proceeded to get to take it on a back road adventure (I live in Pasadena, CA we have lots of twisty hillside roads), and instantly fell in love with it. So with some creative financing, I ended up convincing the wife that we can afford 2 cars, and I got my car, something “I would enjoy driving” and the practical car (her new 2009 Q7). It was a best of both worlds.

    Having the RS4 for 4 weeks now, I still am enthralled with it, can’t wait to spend more time in it (I literally am looking for excuses to go out driving), and to drive it for many years to come. My only let down was not seeing this review before I bought it, but had I done so, I probably would have felt biased buying the car, instead seeing it after the purchase, I can’t agree more about what a fun car this is to drive, plus it’s big enough to drop the kids off at school in.

  • avatar

    So has Audi all but abandoned the US market? Is your only option for HP the R8?
    Was 2007 really that long ago?


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