2007 Audi RS4 Review

Jonny Lieberman
by Jonny Lieberman

Buy 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.

Allow 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.

Blindfolded, 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.

More 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.

Audi 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.

And 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.

There 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.

Jonny Lieberman
Jonny Lieberman

Cleanup driver for Team Black Metal V8olvo.

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  • Mera Mera on Nov 24, 2014

    I have read many reviews and watched countless videos of B7 and B8 RS4. I went and bought a used B7 RS4 recently - 2007. I wanted to list quick pros and cons of what I experienced and learned: Pros: - Drop dead gorgeous car, flared fenders and wheels combination. - 8,200 RPM not only turns you on every time, but makes you love the car every time. - Steering/handling is awesome. It's great and very enjoyable in stock form. Cons - Sits very high- almost as high as a Camry. Look at a stock one yourself. - Very over-hyped. Yes they are amazing. But not when you have to spend serious amounts of money at each maintenance interval - belts, axles, brakes, transmission and engine mounts. Yes, there is a sensor in engine mounts. Get ready to spend some serious dinero. - Carbon cleaning has to be done every 20k miles. This is not a Ferrari or Audi R8 or Aventador where I should have to take my car into maintenance for $800 every 20k miles. Of course, gaskets, manifold arm flaps and many other items come into play at the same time. - This is a rare car. So dealerships never carry parts for it. If you need anything, it always has to be ordered leaving your car useless for days at the dealership. Even if they overnight it, it still takes too long. - Not many can work on it. I took my car to two dealerships (Audi) and they told me bluntly that this is not an everyday car and they would have to consult with someone in Germany. I almost lost my footing. - For a car with 420 HP, it sure isn't as fast as cars with 420 HP. An S4 with few bolt-ons becomes just as fast as this - I tested this at a 3.5 mile grand prix track. And they are half the cost. No A4 or S4 will give you a rush like this, but this thing requires constant maintenance where A4/S4 don't. Shoot me but I said it and I owned S4 before this. This is my third Audi and fourth German in the house. - MRC shocks go bad and then hope that you don't have to pay arm and a leg for it. - Stock clutch has a problem. Look up transmission clutch issues on B7 RS4. Stock LUK clutch/flywheel combo goes bad after x number of miles based on driving patterns. Lads, this is a 8,200 RPM beast. Why did Audi screw up by using cheap parts? So if you are looking to buy a B7 RS4, make sure it will shift gears above 7,500 rpm from 2nd to 3rd and so on. Also, due to this issue, many RS4s are plagued with Transmission synchro issues - another $1,000 just in parts. Folks, if you weren't a religious man before this car, you will become one after owning it. This shouldn't be a Kanye West / Kim Kardashian marriage where you have to pay to stay married to it. Just my .02c

  • Hawg4fun Hawg4fun on Feb 08, 2015

    Mera ( and all ) thanks for this input . i am looking at a 1 owner California 07 RS4 , modded w/APR SC , stage 3 ( i think vs stage 2) hi perf brake swap , coil overs , 85k miles looks to be in great shape , work was done at 55k miles any added insight appreciated , thanks Kevin in Colorado

  • ToolGuy "and leaves auto dealers feeling troubled" ...well this is terrible. Won't someone think of the privileged swindlers??
  • ToolGuy "Selling as I got a new car and don't need an extra." ...Well that depends on what new car you chose, doesn't it? 😉
  • El scotto The days of "Be American, buy America" are long gone. Then there's the mental gymnastics of "is a Subaru made in Lafayette, IN more American than something from gm or Ford made in Mexico?" Lastly, it gets down to people's wallets; something cheap on Amazon or Temu will outsell its costlier American-made item. Price not Patriotism sells most items. One caveat: any US candidate should have all of his/her goods made in the USA.
  • FreedMike Well, here's my roster of car purchases since 1981: Three VWsTwo Mazdas (one being a Mercury Tracer, full disclosure)One AudiOne FordOne BuickOne HondaOne Volvo I think I hear Lee Greenwood in the background... In all seriousness, I'd have bought more American cars had they made more of the kinds of cars I like (smaller, performance-oriented).
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X I'll gladly support the least "woke" and the most Japanese auto company out there.