As always, a comparison test starts with this flashing thing in the upper left corner of the virtual white sheet of paper. Well, at least the writing. What do you start with, what do you, dear reader, want to know? Are you consumed by loading sill height, inspection interval or test consumption? Or do you start something like this, very personally: One fine day, around eight o’clock, at a traffic light on the way to the editorial office, he drives through the picture. Audi RS 4: Bright blue, black 20-incher. A magnet for the eyes. Green traffic light forgotten, stopped, from behind it is angry honking.
Excuse me, but did you think that car journalists are ice-cold guys who are no longer amazed at anything? On the contrary: We are little boys with beating hearts – at the latest when some great car drives through the picture. Ever since we used to push Siku, Matchbox, Corgi or Wasauchimmer on the Persian carpet in our living room, sometimes with it, sometimes against the direction of combing. Sure, the scales have changed in the meantime, instead of 1 : 50 now 1 : 1. But, friends, the fire is still blazing. No matter if it’s because of electric, Alcantara tingling, sport exhaust or just because of that: Blue. Turbo blue.
A magnet for the eyes. The RS looks sensational!
But now let’s go down to the underground parking lot of the editorial office. There it stands, “our” RS 4, next to its test partner Mercedes-AMG C 63 T. Iridium silver magno, for the sake of completeness. The most strenuous thing is to stay cool on the outside, when you would love to dance around them. Or flitting to Boxberg, into our lateral dynamics refuge. With such grateful types as Audi RS 4 and the Mercedes C 63 T, for which the term “combination car” was invented. On paper, the two of them virtually share a booth in the sports station wagon. Whether in terms of power (450 to 476 hp), weight (1.8 tons), trunk size including the identical loading sill height – everything pretty much at par. On paper.
Good entertainment, your AMG
And in practice? Things look different. At the latest when the M 177 in the AMG wakes up its eight aluminum pistons, sends them on their 92-millimeter journey, lets the crankshaft initially tilt the entire unit a few degrees to the right and the sports exhaust raises its voice. It sounds like more than four liters. It also seems as if they have planted the V8 in the trunk, as powerful as it bolls from back there. When stationary, in motion, below bass, then pulsating, finally frenetically hammering. Somehow this power block seems to applaud itself constantly. And all Super Plus fans clap along. The AMG is permanently breathing down the driver’s neck, on his shoulder, on his lap, talking, yapping, screaming, depending on his speed. As the driver, you always keep your body tensed. Relaxed lolling around is not an option, although the automatic nine-gear transmission actually works gently and according to the situation.
Even the weakest version of the four-liter biturbo V8 with 476 HP can break hearts.
And the Audi? Has to make do with a 2.9-liter V6 with 450 hp. Oh, does a teardrop roll? Nonsense: The guy is an enforcer. Cool and shrewd even without a full beard and tattoo wallpaper, under the fine fabric the RS 4 flexes its muscles, only talks when asked, otherwise it keeps its exhaust flap shut. The RS 4 sneaks through the residential area, wellness without a fuss over the country road, smoothens the gear changes with its eight-speed automatic transmission and also scarcely needs the partial load range via the so-called B-cycle, which works with extraordinary control times, ergo valve opening angles and compression and expansion phases. Without the octane-vegan feeling like a Miller vacuum cleaner. Variable valve timing and the two turbochargers help.
Also on the test track, acceleration measurement, full throttle, three octane to 100. Call it Max boost pressure (1.5 bar). Or Lucky Luke, because the RS 4 shoots away faster than its shadow, undercuts its factory specification of 4.1 seconds when sprinting from 0 to 100 km/h by three tenths of a second. No matter how angry the AMG may roar, it remains at 4.4 seconds – and thus falls short of the manufacturer’s expectations. When no one was looking, the Audi conspiratorially blinked its Matrix LED. So much for series production and all that.
Stable ceramic brake.
And its standard all-wheel drive helps it to generate speed from Newton meters with minimal loss. In Boxberg, this time it takes a lap or two to become a blood brother. Not because he is bitchy, on the contrary. It’s all so simple. That makes you suspicious. Without reason, as it turns out. Sure, there are less filtering steering systems (see AMG), but what the RS 4 puts into the hands of its driver is okay despite a certain non-commitment. A genuine active steering system with a variable, situation-dependent transmission ratio. Plus adaptive dampers including DRC, the diagonal connection of two dampers each that support the body in curves, as well as four-wheel drive with active limited slip differential that juggles the drive torque from front to rear and separately at the rear wheels for optimum handling.
Good luck, your RS 4
Step on the gas without worrying? No problem, mechatronics skilfully implements it up to the 20-inch wheels. Under constant load, the RS 4 tends to understeer, but can also be persuaded to take action at the rear. Driving aids are extended and it drives crossways. Not volcanically Pirelli-smoking, but efficient, speed-rolling and therefore fun. You steer, he drives. Period.
Change to the AMG. Awe at all those who didn’t immediately scream “Hoonigan” at birth and who, with a lot of power on the rear axle, first approach it carefully like picking mushrooms. Don’t pluck, cook, munch – but first take your time and take your time. And then it happens: One or two rounds are enough, and you drive the thing so crosswise that your colleagues later ask why you have been grinning like that ever since. Well, out of joy! That will probably be allowed. Just an exception, I promise. Winkersmiley.
And that’s how it happens: The AMG turns into the curve, pretty fast, very lightly pushing over the front wheels. Initial turn-in understeer, just right, gives you a feeling for the speed, the variability in the choice of lines and shows you where you stand via the steering. Because that’s where the trick comes in: the rear. Mixed and levelled by steering and gas. Very gentle, very easy. You want it out? Then press the gas pedal harder. It should go back in? Then let up a little, and the butt comes back, gently, linear, intuitively fine-tuned by the steering. Enough space on the asphalt? Then let the throttle up, and the C 63 T comes across. Just right. Yeah! Oh, it’s true, for a moment you lose your composure. At the keyboard, not on the track. Want to compare? Okay: You want to jump from the tenner and don’t dare. Just climb up the ladder, reach the front, jump. That’s it. This is how drifting goes with the AMG. Only softer and more beautiful, because somehow and above all somewhere (ouch) tens jumps always hurt.
Relaxed snooping around? Find someone else. Or take the Audi. The AMG wants to know. Always!
Before you think, okay, the Audi is blue, and the AMG drives crossways: Of course they can do more. The AMG, for example, locks its driver into the form-fitting option seat and delivers a colorful display show including redundant controls, which still allow plain-text keys for the radio and the like.
Audi kicked them out during the facelift, where almost everything now runs via the somewhat high-positioned touchscreen and the easy-grip steering wheel buttons and rollers. After all, volume, title jump and trip resets remain mechanical. The digital dashboard can be configured, but it’s not only kids who want a little more action. Except for the tachometer, which flickers wildly in color from 5,000 rpm, this is pretty sober. Instead of the colorful boost bar like at AMG, Audi only supplies a fitty white one. Especially Audi, which once cultivated the turbo puffing …
What else? Well, the RS 4 rolls more smoothly, but moves more strongly, the C 63 rumbles more clearly, but controls the body more confidently overall. In terms of workmanship, both are on a par. Very solid in appearance and touch quality, supported by expensive options.
Expensive. Good topic at the end. If it says RS 4, then RS 4 should be in it. Even with the 5,900 Euro expensive dynamics package one wishes for more drama, for example drier gear changes, or simply a firmer handshake. At least in the two configurable RS modes. Drama? That’s part of the AMG program. Where the Audi spreads Saturday evening bets on the cuddly blanket style, the Mercedes wants to go out into the streets, around the houses, to the fair, not averse to a little scuffle. Feeling that one lives. With a pounding heart and V8.
1st Mercedes-AMG C 63 T
Even if it takes the victory over price and safety: The V8 is a wild type. Powerful V8 thundering with authentic rear-wheel drive handling. More of that please.
2nd Audi RS 4 Avant
He looks sensational, has best manners and is as fast as an arrow. Always and everywhere. Now add a family pack of character – and the super suit is ready.