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2021 Audi RS4 Avant and RS 5 review

There’s something thoroughly enticing about a wagon able to out-accelerate a Porsche and top 250km/h.

Practicality and pace packed into a German thoroughbred which can also scurry around corners nicely, too.

Welcome to life in Audi’s RS4, which has just been updated during the busiest year ever for the RS sub-brand, with every model updated or a new arrival joining the family.

Technically, Audi’s RS4 is an Avant (marketing speak), rather than a plain old wagon.

But if you only want two doors or a sleeker four-door look there’s a pair of mechanically identical RS5 models for a mid-sized feast to rival BMW’s M3/M4 and the Mercedes-AMG C 63.

Audi RS4 Avant has a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system.
Camera IconAudi RS4 Avant has a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system. Credit: Supplied/Supplied

Audi’s hot-shot trio has been updated for the 2021 model year arrival, the final piece of the RS’ hectic 2020.

Key changes include a meaner look.

The frame around the grille has been deleted for a cleaner blend between bumper, bonnet and gaping mesh intakes.

With black highlights, it’s a menacing look.

Pressing the start button unleashes a throaty roar in keeping with the image.

The 2.9-litre V6 nestles a couple of turbos in its V in an effort to reduce lag when you press the accelerator.

It’s not long until the full 600Nm surge is pumping hard, the RS4 lunging towards the horizon with enthusiasm.

The two-door mid-size Audi RS5.
Camera IconThe two-door mid-size Audi RS5. Credit: Supplied/Supplied

As revs pass 5000rpm the restrained burble takes on a muted snarl, the full 331kW a fitting crescendo.

Driving through Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system means no wheel-spin and very little fuss.

Broad 275mm-wide 20-inch tyres provide the stickiness for equally competent cornering.

There’s lashings of grip and a forgiveness which will outdo the bravery of most drivers.

That it manages to quell all but the largest of bumps adeptly — at least if you avoid the stiffer Dynamic mode — reinforces the talent.

Potent brakes complete with point-and-shoot driving flair.

The front-end points assertively but is not overly sensitive.

More liveliness to the steering feedback would boost the character, something the RS4 lags against its hot-shot rivals.

The RS5 addresses that slightly with a tauter feel and weightier steering, albeit at the expense of practicality.

Audi RS4 Avant is an explosive family wagon.
Camera IconAudi RS4 Avant is an explosive family wagon. Credit: Supplied/Supplied

Prices have receded about 3 per cent, though at $147,900 the RS4 is still plenty expensive for a family wagon.

The RS5 gets the sportier look — complete with frameless side windows — for $150,900.

A 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system and 10.1-inch touch screen atop the dash headline the long list of equipment, that incorporates sports seats clad in Nappa leather, three-zone ventilation, sunroof, smart key entry and a suite of crash-avoidance tech.

Rather than regular LEDs with a matrix system for blanking out other drivers — as used in the RS4 — the RS5 gets laser high beams to double their useable distance.

But it’s the sensible size and choice of models that make the refreshed RS4 and RS5s a stand-out at the top of the Audi line-up.

Check back later this week when we review the all-new RS Q8 SUV.

2021 AUDI RS4/RS5 SPECIFICATIONS

Prices $147,900; $150,900

Engine 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6

Output 331kW/600Nm

Transmission Eight-speed automatic

Fuel economy 9.4-9.5L/100km

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