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All-new Audi RS4 revealed

Can the 3rd Gen model rediscover the old handling magic?

Audi had a massive success in the 1980s with the Quattro model as a performance car. It was widely praised for the handling, which seemingly left Audi for many years until the RS4 arrived in 2000. This was a very fast Audi estate with 375 bhp, a huge output at the time. It was also highly praised for the driving experience. The replacement in 2006 upped the ante by using a V8 powerplant with 414 bhp and again it retained the same handling precision and acclaim.

Then something changed at Audi. The TT-RS, RS6, RS3 and most recently the RS5 have all suffered from benign handling and weak steering feel which have hurt sales in this performance sector.

But now it seems as if Audi are bringing back the RS4 and we can only hope that it inherits its forebears handling characteristics, instead of the more recent models. Audi has revealed the new model ahead of the big reveal at the Geneva Motor Show next month which shows that the RS4 retains Audi’s trademark understated styling, but we think it really looks good.

At the front we have the recently facelifted nose, now featuring a mesh grille, LED headlights and large intake vents in the lower bumper. This style breaks away from the current gaping vents of the RS3 and RS5 for a more subtle approach – maybe Audi were scaring off their more understated customers. There are slightly widened front and rear box arches as seen on the latest RS models and a large diffuser with trademark twin oval exhausts at the rear.

The 2012 RS4 will come with the same engine as the RS5 which means a 4.2 litre V8 producing 444 bhp and 317 lb/ft or torque. That’s enough for some serious performance – the 0-62 mph dash is dispatched in 4.7 seconds on the way to the top speed of 155 mph, which can be increased to 174 mph upon request. This power is put down through the standard seven-speed dual clutch S-tronic gearbox and the Quattro four wheel drive system.

Much of the RS4’s suspension is made of aluminium and there are decent 365 mm diameter disc brakes up front behind the new 10-spoke 19” alloy wheels. 20” wheels and carbon-ceramic brakes are optional.

For the interior of the RS4 it’s a case of black, black and a little more black. There are optional carbon-backed race seats with a leather/alcantara covering, carbon fibre inlays for the dash and other areas and black leather and alcantara everywhere else. A flat bottomed steering wheel finishes off the sporty yet typically Audi interior. Not particularly exciting to look at, but ergonomically perfect.

The RS4 goes on sale in late 2012 from around £55,000.

Images courtesy of Audi

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About Tim Oldland

Contributing Editor - Long time petrolhead, automotive design engineer and journalist. Also Social Media Manager for the ecurie25 Group - Tim has worked in the automotive sector for many years, but has been a fan of anything with 2 or 4... read more