Overnight With Audi
A powerful 24-hour excursion testing the new RS4 and RSQ8.
Credit where credit’s due.
Despite being an unseasonably grey spring morning, Audi Australia recently did its utmost to lift spirits. No, we don’t mean the welcoming cups of coffee and gently warmed (and unnecessary) baked treats, rather, a colourful selection of updated and new RS models — each to be belted about wine country north of Sydney and enjoyed as they should.
2021 RS 4 Avant
As the Avant name suggests and has done since its 1977 debut – meaning ‘before’ in French and drives at the marque being significantly ‘ahead’ of others – there’s something about a wagon that immediately prompts memories of simpler times, of long road trips under dappled sunlight.
While there’s nothing simple about this incredible piece of German engineering, the RS4 Avant’s mere presence immediately invited us into the Nappa leather sports seats ready for the road ahead.
Complementing the striking new exterior design, featuring the iconic Singleframe grille reminiscent of the classic 1984 quattro, our chosen Tango Red whip also featured a ‘black pack’ of 20” gloss black wheels (with red brake calipers, naturally) and black badging.
As the convoy rolled out, it was only appropriate to warm up to the task ahead in ‘Comfort’ mode. Selected via the Audi virtual cockpit – a display that also provides information on tyre pressure, torque and g-forces – the smooth ride was elevated a few notches by heated seats and ‘stretch’ massage function.
With muscles warmed up – the car and ours – the smooth purr of the base drive selection was quickly replaced by the rapid and emotive presence of ‘RS’ mode. This is the fun – indeed, this is the action.
Powered by a 2.9-litre TFSI V6 engine with twin turbos, it boasts 331 kW of power and a whopping 600Nm of torque. With hands caressing the leather-wrapped steering wheel it’s easy to forget the sizable 505 litre rear-end, especially when the two turbochargers propel you from 0-100 km/h in 4.1 seconds, with a top speed of 250 km/h.
The incredible performance is furthered by the RS 4 Avant’s fast-shifting eight-speed tiptronic transmission, directing power to the road via the Audi quattro permanent all-wheel drive that can shift torque distribution from 40:60 (front to rear) to 15:85 under particularly sporty driving conditions.
As day one came to a close, so too, sadly, did our time with the RS 4 Avant – a true everyday weapon that continues to engage, even after all these years and demise of ‘that’ V8. A peerless performer.
Now available to order from $147,900 ($150,400 as tested).
2021 RS Q8
If the RS 4 Avant incites nostalgia, the first-ever RS Q8 triggers unadulterated excitement. Paul Sansom, Managing Director of Audi Australia, claims the newcomer to be an “extraordinary feat of engineering accomplishment” and after our dance with it, we tend to agree.
The morning after the day and night that was, the Lava Green RS Q8 prove the only morning pick-up we needed.
As the new RS flagship, the luxurious SUV also embodies a high-performance sportscar aesthetic. The extra-wide grille with RS-specific honeycomb structure, 23″ alloy wheels – the first on an Audi production vehicle – and black exterior styling package ultimately delivers an elevated high-order that barks an immediate sense of domination.
While the exterior excites, the interior is all luxurious calm. As you’d expect from the new head of the Audi Q family, space and comfort are in abundance with 1,755-litre luggage capacity (rear seats folded), adjustable rear seat positioning and an air quality package alongside the RS front seats appointed with premium Valcona leather. From there the cockpit experience comes alive thanks to the MMI touch response system, featuring two touch screens – 10.1-inch (upper) and 8.6-inch (lower) – that are further enhanced with the Audi virtual cockpit and HUD.
Alongside a full suite of expected driver’s assistance systems come six driving profiles – comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency, all-road, off-road. We opted for the customisable RS1 mode (RS2 also available) on departing Spicers Estate.
It was all tranquil and easy enough along vineyard-lined roads – before, that is, we made firm friends with the 17-speaker, 730-watt Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system (side note: we highly recommend the aptly titled ‘Driving Songs’ playlist on Spotify).
As the fastest SUV around the Nürburgring – an incredible feat for a 2.3-tonne vehicle – the RS Q8 is quite something to slide behind the wheel of and power up.
With an adjustable ride height of up to 90mm and enhanced electromechanical active roll stabilisation, the RS Q8 is – perhaps, surprisingly – made for corners. Not only that, it’s made for belting out of them, powered by a beastly 4.0-litre V8 engine with twin turbochargers producing 441kW of power and 800Nm of torque.
In regards to the alleged 0-100km/h sprint – we’re told it managed it in 3.8 seconds (yes, allegedly quicker than both the new RS4 and RS5). In slowing things down, note the presence of large 420mm and 370mm (rear) brake calipers.
With the vineyards and winding road a blur behind us, rolling back into Sydney afforded an opportunity to experience the green machine in what will be its regular urban environment – where it put everyone and easily negotiated some snarling traffic.
Now available to order from AUD$208,500 ($215,700 as tested).
Keep an eye on robbreport.com.au in the coming weeks for pending Robb Reviews of both the refreshed RS5 Coupe and RS5 Sportback.