As much as we love hammering down the track in a BMW M-car, or an insatiable Mercedes-AMG, we can’t overlook the prises due their lesser known tuning rivals at Audi, and their impressive RS 4. The RS 4 is Audi’s most powerful compact sport sedan offering. packed with prodigious performance and technology, this direct injected V8 bullet just might be the most enticing Audi ever.
Many a car has burned up the German autobahn, but quattro GmbH, Audi’s in-house tuning shop, has produced some of the best, if not the best known. Their latest electrifying effort is the 2007 RS 4, and like all limited-edition factory specials, the RS 4 is built around a potent powerplant and a highly tuned chassis. That engine is a highly modified 4.2-liter V8 from the A8, which adds Audi’s FSI direct fuel injection. This race-bred system allows the dual-cam 32-valve V8 to pump up 420 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of peak torque, with a competition-style 8,250 rpm redline.
Plus, you can activate the engine’s sport mode for quicker throttle response, and more rumble from the free-flow twin-chamber exhaust system. Harnessing all those ponies and pushing them to the pavement is accomplished with a reinforced 6-speed manual gearbox with a dual mass flywheel.
And Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system. It uses a torque sensing center differential which varies torque split from 40 front/60 rear to full power at either end. Both ends get lightweight 19-inch alloy wheels with tire pressure monitoring. Smaller 18-inchers are available as an option.
This high-tech combination powers the RS 4 to 60 in only 4.2 seconds, and through the quarter mile in 13.3 seconds at 106 miles-per-hour. Quattro traction smoothly launches the RS 4 off the line, with power rising in a rock-steady arc right through the rev band.
The V8 spins super-fast, while the shifter is precise and positive. Each gear in the transmission is also perfectly spaced to make best use of the engine’s prodigious power. Of course power is useless without control, and Audi engineers control the RS 4’s power with a multi-link suspension at all four corners, that has been lowered 1.2-inches and tuned for precise road-holding. The RS 4 also features Audi’s Dynamic Ride Control which electronically controls body roll and pitch, plus standard stability and traction control.
Turn the wheel and the RS 4 responds instantly. With a rear wheel torque bias, balance is near perfect, and we detected none of the push that effects most all-wheel drive cars. Through both tight turns and sweepers, no matter what your speed or throttle position, the harder you push the RS 4, the better it feels. There is tons of feedback through chassis and steering, and all systems reacting in a clean, seamless manner. It’s one of the most nimble cars that we’ve ever driven; a sedan that can easily challenge, and beat, most of the best sports cars when the road gets twisty.
And stops with them as well, thanks to big cross-drilled brakes, with fixed front and floating rear calipers. We averaged 120 feet from 60, without a hint of fade or shimmy. And after all that, it’s still as refined as any car in the Audi lineup. Ride is solid but smooth, with only the throaty exhaust note reminding you that this is not just a another luxury car. But you’ll know it when you get to the gas pump.
Government fuel economy ratings for the RS 4 are only 14 city/21 highway. We averaged 18 on premium gas. But those miles will fly by in the RS 4’s ultra-upscale cabin. Leather aluminum and carbon fiber are everywhere you look. With the 12-way Recaro sport seats wearing fine Nappa hides.
The center dash is dominated by a large LCD driver information center that not only controls the DVD-based satellite navigation system, but includes a stopwatch with lap timer. It also controls the Bose audio system with a 6-disc in-dash CD changer, available satellite radio, and slots for SD memory cards so you can play MP3s downloaded from your computer.
All this comes with a hefty base price of $68,820. That’s a lot of bucks; but if you’ve got them, this car will definitely help you enjoy them.
The 2007 Audi RS 4 is one truly amazing tuner sport sedan. A testament to the engineering talents at quattro GmbH; and a driving experience that we rank as one of the best ever.
Engine: Dual-cam 32-valve V8
Torque: 317 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 4.2 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 13.3 Seconds @ 106 MPH
60-0 MPH: 120 Feet
EPA: 14 MPG City/ 21 MPG Highway
Mixed Loop: 18 MPG