2006 Audi RS4 review: classic MOTOR

2006 Audi RS4 review classic MOTOR

We keep a running list of the world’s great engines, and the Audi and VW megopolis seems to have an unnaturally high number of them. Bugatti’s mind-boggling W16, for one. Then there’s this here thing.

This review was first published in MOTOR Magazine's February 2006 issue.

The S4 has always been a car to like – full of character in a most un-Audi way – but we always craved something with a harder edge. Something to take on the M3 or even the C55.

Well, it’s here. And then some. The same-sized V8 now puts out 309kW at an atmospheric 7800rpm to cut a second off the S4’s 0-100km/h time, down to 4.8 seconds and heading into properly fast country. That’s a 56kW leap – and there’s not a turbo- or super-charger in sight.

Instead, Audi dug into its Le Mans program to give the RS4 FSI direct-injection technology to get what they needed out of the same block. It also let them boost the compression ratio and punch the redline to the roof.

There’s only 430Nm of torque (and that only turns up at 5500rpm), but there’s at least 90 percent of that number twisting metal from 2250 through to 7600.

But it’s the sound! It’s glorious and angry; it promises violence and delivers in triplicate. The thing picks up and drops revs so quickly and accurately that if feels like it runs no flywheel, and the rumbling snarl is something to behold. Get it past 4000rpm with the taps cranked to the stoppers and it becomes a race engine; ripping at the air and flinging the RS4 at the horizon.

All this and it’s got a proper six-speed manual. No wussy DSG technology here (that’s from the engineers, not us!). It’s a proper, man’s car, and this is how it should be driven.

Don’t let that bravado fool you, though, because it’s bloody well equipped for an M3 smasher, and it’s got variable damping to smooth things out (Audi’s new tradition is teeth-rattlingly firm suspension) when you want.

Remembering the heroes on classic MOTOR

The 365mm front brakes are astonishingly potent, the Torsen centre diff normally punches 60 percent of the drive to the rear wheels and those two facts alone scream its intent. It’s chuckable and it’s even fun. In an Audi?

You can also flick on the Sport button on the wheel to get faster response out of the throttle and open a flap in the exhaust to make it even louder and angrier.

Then there’s the way you can disable the safety nets. You can ditch traction control without turning off the ESP, but when you flick off the second stage, you’re on your own to play with the car’s awesome abilities as you’d like.

And you will like. A lot.

Fast Facts - 2006 Audi RS4

ENGINE:  4.2-litre DOHC 32-valve direct-injection V8
POWER: 309kW @ 7800rpm
TORQUE: 430Nm @ 5500rpm
WEIGHT: 1650kg
DRIVE: all-wheel

Get your free weekly report from the world of fast cars - subscribe to the MOTOR newsletter!