The new Audi RS4 Avant is shaping up to be an incredible car. We haven’t driven it as of yet but we’re hearing incredible things about it. It’s said to be faster than ever before, more capable than ever before and more luxurious as well. But it doesn’t fall into the same trap of being boring, like its RS5 Coupe sibling. Maybe that has to do with the fact that it’s a wagon, so you’re not expecting a fire-breathing sports car like you are with the coupe. Though, because we’re hearing the new RS4 is so good, we thought it good to look back on every RS4 generation (and one non-RS4, technically) to see which one is best.
The first ever “RS” product was the Audi RS2 Avant. While it wasn’t exactly an RS4 Avant, it was the precursor for the RS4, so we’re including it. Plus, Audi put it in the RS4 Avant family photos, so the folks in Ingolstadt apparently think it counts. The RS2 Avant was actually co-developed by Porsche and uses a 2.5 liter turbocharged I5 engine, mated to a six-speed manual and proper Quattro all-wheel drive with a locking rear differential. It was an incredible car, one that was faster than most supercars to 60 mph, thanks to its turbocharged torque and Quattro grip. It was a sensational car and one that really kicked on the RS line of cars.
Following the Audi RS2 Avant was the first ever Audi RS4 Avant, the B5-generation. That car was built on the first-gen B5 Audi A4 platform, which officially made it the first of its kind. It then ditched the turbo five-cylinder engine for a 2.7 liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine, also mated to a six-speed and Quattro all-wheel drive. The B5 RS4 Avant was a great car, one that oozed character and fun. Though, it was a bit boosty, where it made almost no power at low revs, and was notoriously unreliable. Still, it was a ton of fun.
The third-gen Audi RS4 Avant came with the B7-generation, as it skipped the B6. The B7 RS4 was an absolute monster, thanks to its 4.2 liter, naturally-aspirated V8 engine. Not only was it the first V8 but the first naturally-aspirated motor for an RS4. That screaming V8 was paired with a six-speed manual and obviously all-wheel drive, which made it the fastest, most incredible RS4 to date. It was also the sharpest and best handling RS4 ever at the time. It was also the best looking to date and still is.
After the B7 RS4 came the B8-generation. While the B8 RS4 Avant borrowed the same unbelievable V8 engine, it lacked the razor-sharp, thrilling driving experience that its predecessor had. Though, it was more premium feeling, had better technology and was more practical. It was a great overall performance wagon but it’s probably the worst of the bunch so far.
Now, the B9-generation Audi RS4 Avant is here and it’s shaping up to be one of the better ones, from what we’re hearing. It loses the wonderful free-breathing V8 of the B8-generation for a twin-turbocharged 2.9 liter V6 that makes the same 454 hp but makes more torque, 443 lb-ft. So it’s considerably faster than the car it replaces, packs more technology, is sharper and more dynamic, thanks to its new chassis, and is better looking. So while the B9 RS4 might not be better than the incredible B7 or the original RS2, it seems like it will be better than the B8-gen it replaces.
We can’t officially declare a winner because we haven’t driven the new RS4 Avant yet. However, we’re going to have to say that out of all the RS4s, the best one is likely the B7-generation. It packed the best engine, the best looks and the purest handling. And how often do you get a screaming V8 that revs to 8,250 rpm paired with a six-speed manual?