New Audi RS4 could be an admirable ‘dinosaur’ from the Bronze Age
It is a strictly limited-edition model, of just 25 examples, priced from a whopping £82,395, but Iain Robertson is tickled pink that Audi is adopting a defiant stance in the dying years of fossil-fuelled supercars, by cocking an inconvenient snook at eco-maniacs.
Come on! Face it. Life is too short. The extra damage being wrought on the environment by a short-run of the still efficient top-spec Audi is so small as to be insignificant. In fact, sod it, I admire Audi for taking advantage of a market niche, with its corporate tongue sticking impertinently from one bare-faced cheek. I would venture to suggest, although political correctness is sure to deny it, that the arch-happiness provider, Audi, is even having ‘eine kleine Spass mit uns’…and I do not blame it one little jot.
While it has no choice in the matter, the ‘Four Rings’ marque has committed to a 37bn Euros environmental spend over the next five years, of which its mea culpa, sackcloth and ashes share of 12bn Euros is targeted at electrification of its future fleet. Audi is doing its bit, because it has to. Yet, it has been hit as hard as its Teutonic premium rivals by the latest emissions demands, which knocked a not insignificant 3% off its total volume (1.845m cars) in 2019, a factor not helped by the political and social pressures under which the entire motor industry has been placed.
Of course, RS4 is as vital to the firm’s performance bloodline as any model bearing the RS label. It embodies sexiness, ultra-performance, supreme luxury and an engaging amount of well-managed environmental filth for good measure. There is a trade-off, when the car can top 173mph in Avant Vorsprung modified form but even the ‘regular’ RS4 can do 155mph, after despatching the 0-60mph blast in a cool 3.8s, which is a match for a twice-the-price McLaren. While misappropriating its source results (NEDC vs WLTP) gives a CO2 rating of 211g/km, the car’s V6 biturbo-petrol engine can still deliver a promised 30.7mpg, which remains eminently respectable.
Displacing 2.9-litres, the unit’s power output of 445bhp harks back to the original RS6, as a reflection of its ‘prehistoric naughtiness’ and, if memory serves correct, it is delivered with a bellowing big exhaust note that is sure to wind-up the prissy Ms Thunbergs of our world to a point of near-apoplexy. If history serves correct, the dinosaurs were not given a 15 years advance warning of their demise, so, as the politicians play, Audi can too, with some form of gay abandon. Mind you, with a choice of Avant, Carbon Black Avant and, now, Bronze Edition RS4s for those types believing that a price tag knocking at the £83k door is mere pocket money and that the accompanying five years’ worth of hefty road tax is a fair price to pay, I salute Audi’s enterprise, while loathing enviously their owners’ financial agility. Perhaps the next ‘special’ ought to be finished in a bilious green?
The Bronze elements are confined externally to the 20.0-inch diameter, forged alloy wheels, while, internally, bronze coloured upholstery stitching is the only concession, although the trim detailing includes additional Nappa hide inserts and masses of carbon fibre. Although keyless entry is included, as my Suzuki features it, it is not such a brilliant boast. However, there is no need for the key to open the electric tailgate access to its 1,495-litres boot. The upgrades continue with a 360-degrees camera, a multi-colour LED cabin illumination package and a corking 755W, 19-speaker, Bang & Olufsen hi-fi unit. Have sounds, will travel.
Inserted dash-centre, its 10.1-inch touchscreen benefits from acoustic feedback and no longer requires the ancient MMI rotary controller that used to sit in the centre console. It provides a total systems monitoring function through a surprisingly easy-to-access contents list and colourful page-after-page graphics. Supported by a typical list of ADAS developments, driver aids, safety support and connectivity levels are all on-point. The car may be a ‘dinosaur’ to some observers but there is nothing historical in any aspect of its electronic presentation, which is bang up to date.
The driving experience is similarly ‘on da money’, the car’s heft being felt through its weighty power-assisted steering, monstrously responsive brakes (that can be expensively upgraded to full carbon, for a lot of extra cash) and that unrelenting compression of the spine that accompanies every accelerative mash of the throttle pedal into the footwell’s high-quality carpet. The autobox has been optimised for the slickest of up and downshifts, the eight ratios accessible by either slapping the gearstick, or tipping the paddles on either left, or right-hand steering wheel spokes.
Customising the drive conditions has been a long-time feature of RS models and several parameters can be programmed to meet individual demands using the acoustic and haptic controls. Being sinfully out-of-step has seldom felt so pleasurable. The drive controller can even direct engine torque to whichever wheel needs it most, or altered to enable agile adjustability of an order expected by an Olympic calisthenics exponent. Dialling-in oversteer, understeer, or neutral steer is possible using the tailoring qualities of either of the RS1/RS2 specific buttons.
Growing obsolescent gracefully is not really part of the Audi ‘funmeisters’ remit and the real enthusiast will forgive the RS4 its less likeable traits in that trade-off between maintaining an open eye on the future and delivering kicks aplenty today. For me, the only disappointment is that I will never be able to justify the largely unjustifiable prospect of owning an RS4. Its Porsche-priced loftiness may have been feasible a few years ago, had I not ‘duty-free’ smoked it away, but as I enter the twilight of my existence, I can still rub my hands with glee that Audi shines a sharply defined LED light in an increasingly dark motoring environment.
Conclusion: Ever the oddball, ever appealing to a moderately monied enthusiastic niche, Audi is ‘keeping it real’ for a privileged few and, in truth, I have zero issue with its stance. Rock on RS4, Bronze Edition, or not!