The 2018 Audi RS4 is nearly here, but how far has is come?
Well, we decided to have a look back to see how Audi’s small performance wagon has evolved over the last 23 years.
While it may not wear the RS4 badge, the Audi RS2 Avant from the early ’90s is the one that started it all, combining sports car performance with five seats and a practical boot area.
Under the bonnet was a 2.2-litre turbocharged five-cylinder engine, developing 232kW (315hp).
The RS2 Avant could sprint from 0-100km/h in just 5.4 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 262km/h (162.8mph).
Additionally, the original performance wagon features wheels and brakes from Porsche, which was involved as a development and production partner.
The first ‘B5’ RS4 was launched back in 1999, powered by a 2.7-litre twin-turbo V6.
A power output of 279kW (380hp) meant the first-generation was no slouch – sprinting from 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds.
British tuning firm, Cosworth, was heavily involved in the development process, largely thanks to the fact it had just been acquired by the German marque at the time.
The 1999 RS4 was so popular that Audi had to double its original production plans.
Audi released the second-generation ‘B7′ RS4 in 2005, and unlike the original iteration, the 2005 model was available in three body styles – sedan, wagon and cabriolet.
The B7 swapped out the twin-turbo V6 of its predecessor for a good ol’ 4.2-litre naturally-aspirated V8, making a healthy 309KW (420hp). In sedan form, the RS4 could race from 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds.
Highlights included “asymmetric dynamic torque distribution”, and the optional carbon-ceramic braking system.
The B7-generation RS4 was also the last version to be solely offered with a manual transmission.
Launched at the 2012 Geneva motor show, the ‘B8’ RS4 brought back the ‘wagon-only’ title to the nameplate, and brought a dual-clutch automatic transmission for the first time.
Under the bonnet (again) was a high-revving 4.2-litre aspirated V8, though in this generation tuned to a peppier 331kW (450hp).
The quick-shifting S Tronic gearbox and launch control meant the B8 RS4 was slightly quicker to 100km/h from a standstill – claimed at 4.7 seconds.
When production ended in 2015, it would be the last time the RS4 would feature a V8 under the bonnet.
Fast forward to today and the ‘B9’ RS4 breaks cover at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show.
Like its RS5 coupe sibling, the ’17 RS4 is powered by a 331kW/600Nm 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 – a motor co-developed with Porsche.
Thanks to its extra low-down torque and lighter platform, the B9 claims to sprint from 0-100km/h in just 4.1 seconds.
Unlike its predecessor, the latest RS4 has ditched the dual-clutch transmission for an eight-speed torque converter unit, which should provide smoother driving.
The new Audi RS4 will launch in Australia this coming April, with pricing expected to be “around $155,000″.
Historically, the RS4 has retailed locally from between $149,000 and $187,500 – though the latter was due to the more expensive cabriolet body in 2007.
Read our Australian details story here, and check out our international launch review here.
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