Sure, the Cadillac CTS-V is great. We love it, in fact. But sometimes you might need to fly a little under the radar, rather than targeting it with heat-seeking missiles. If that's the case, the 2013 Audi RS4 Avant may be just what you're looking for--and the newest version has now been fully revealed ahead of its world debut in just a few weeks at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show.
Powered by the same airpump as the 2013 RS5, namely a naturally-aspirated 4.2-liter V-8 good for 450 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque, it's capable of 4.7-second runs to 62 mph. That's quick, but not exactly mind-shattering--but hey, this is the sleeper uberwagon, remember? Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph, though Audi is happy to raise this to 174 mph upon request.
The engine is matched to a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission with launch control (no mention of a manual has been made) and drive is sent to all four wheels via the latest quattro permanent all-wheel drive system.
The heart of the quattro all-wheel drive system is a crown-gear center differential. This compact and lightweight component can vary the distribution of power between the front and rear axles immediately, smoothly and over a wide range, with up to 70 percent flowing to the front or as much as 85 percent to the rear. A default 40:60 setting provides that classic rear-driving feel.
The self-locking crown-gear center differential works together with the torque vectoring system, which acts on all four wheels. If the load on the inside wheel is reduced too much, the torque vectoring system brakes it slightly before unintended slip can occur. On top of this, Audi also offers its sport differential, which uses two superposition stages to actively distribute the power between the rear wheels.
The Audi RS4 Avant is 0.79 inches longer and 0.94 inches wider than the regular A4 Avant, but also 0.79 inches lower. Many components of its five-link front suspension and the self-tracking trapezoidal-link rear suspension are made of aluminum. The steering system is also a speed-dependent electromechanical setup.
The wheels measure 19 inches in diameter in standard trim with 265/35 tires, though a 20-inch set with 265/30 tires is available as an option. For the front axle there are 14.37-inch steel brake discs though you can opt for a set of 14.96-inch carbon ceramic units. Six-piston brake calipers are also used at the front.
To further boost performance, there is an available sport suspension plus system with dynamic ride control (DRC). Oil lines and a central valve connect diagonally opposed pairs of shock absorbers. During fast cornering, the system boosts the stabilization of the front outside wheel, for example.
Inside, the RS4 Avant is clad completely in black, with the exception of the roofliner, which is available in Moon Silver. Chrome trim accentuate switches and control elements, while carbon inlays are standard, with brushed matte aluminum, a black piano finish, or a light stainless steel mesh available as options.
The standard heated front sport seats with integrated headrests are power adjustable and covered in a combination of black leather and Alcantara. Fine Nappa leather in either Black or Moon Silver accentuated with Stone Gray piping is optionally available. Other options include bucket seats or climate-controlled deluxe seats with a ventilation function.
The thick ring of the leather multifunction sport steering wheel is flattened at the bottom like on most sporty Audis, and the shift paddles mounted on the back of it sport an aluminum-look finish. The driver information system with color display includes an RS menu with a lap timer and an oil thermometer.
First sales will start in Europe this fall, but as for an American launch, don't hold your breath. We're just not cool enough.