Comparision: Audi RS5 Sportback vs RS4 Avant

I recently had the privilege, and keys, to two of the finest weapons in Ingolstadt’s armoury. The slippery RS5 five door coupe and the tasty wagon otherwise known as the RS4 Avant. Both are equally rapid, but only one managed to steal my heart. Let me explain.

ENTER THE SPORTBACK

The five-door RS5 is a fine example of the super-saloon breed, from a company that knows how to churn them out. With it, they’ve perfected the five-door rocket ship. The grunt is relentless at 331kW and 600Nm from its biturbo V6. The noise is glorious, so naturally, a trip up the West Coast for a roosterkoek breakfast was on the cards. After all, the bonnet is metallic grey, the weather is blue and the roads are mostly clear. I pointed its shiny prow onto the N7 and proceeded to unfurl those power reserves.

Both cars come at a time when I’d argue that Audi styling has never been better, if somewhat familiar. The greatest advancements can be found on the inside where I’m sat in a tech-heavy cabin, minimalistic and digital with a clever instrument panel that cycles through gauges and navigation seamlessly and a streamlined dashboard dominating the cockpit. Multimedia, infotainment, connectivity and audio options are gratuitous. And you’ll get a very similar distillation in the RS4. But as for the real magic, we’ll they’ve hidden that behind the pedal on the right. Immediately you’re whooshed along, your head pinned to the RS brandished pews, your ears filled with induction howls, baritone burps from the transmission and a V6 rumble that Audi’s exhaust noise department can be proud of. There’s a Bang & Olufsen 3D sound systemcin here too, but really, it can’t compete with this powertrain.

THAT WAGON THOUGH

Like the RS5, the RS4 isn’t even a V8 any more, but nobody’s told it. Audi replaced two of its cylinders with a pair of turbochargers and the net result is the same 331kW/600Nm and whooshier soundtrack as above. With this motorised monolith I went in search of Franschhoek Pass for some apex action. On this equally iconic ribbon of asphalt, I took my two tonnish estate car on roads that twist, dive and undulate with increasingly rapid succession, flanked by imminent dange. Luckily we were equipped with massive red-lacquered brake calipers peaking from behind those rapidly spinning 20 inch wheels.

So there I was, chasing the sun, carving up lefts, double right-handers, opening bends and 180 degree turns before making my way back through an acoustically appreciable tunnel to properly conduct my orchestra, now including those two aforementioned wind instruments. I mean turbos. The RS helm is typically Audi, lacking somewhat in granularity but making up for it with weight and precision. In combination with a firm suspension, wielding the RS4 is relatively easy and certainly rhythmic out here on this pristine tar. Just like the RS5 if I’m honest. But I only have eyes for the flat grey beast ticking itself cool in the shade.

VERDICT

Now look, I make no bones about the fact that that RS4 is my favourite Quattro-equipped Audi of all time. Yet in terms of sheer dynamics, it matches the RS5 Like for like, skill for skill and a similar experience. Are there differences to exploit? Not in my opinion, and certainly not on a public road. A bit more noise barks from the back of the cabin, again, acoustics of what is ultimately a long box on wheels. But overall they share athletism and brassy baritone soundtracks, I’m just smitten with the estate. Add to think you could have one for R1.2mil in a world where the latest BMW M3 costs R1.8mil! Kind of makes it a bit of a performance bargain too.

Quick SPEC: Audi RS4 Avant and RS5 Sportback

Powertrain: 2.9-litre V6 biturbo petrol, 8 speed auto

Performance: 331kW/600Nm, 0-100kph in 4.1 seconds, 250kph max

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