Test Drive: Audi RS4
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By David Haueter

Audi has been on a roll over the last few years. With dominant performances at Le Mans and in the ALMS, as well as an increased focus on improving the performance and driver involvement of their road cars, the marque is doing better than ever. They have become a viable alternative to BMW for drivers wanting a sports sedan that delivers a satisfying driving experience and the car that you see here, the 2006 RS4, is the Audi that is taking the fight to BMW's very popular and respected M3.

At the heart of the RS4 is its excellent engine, which is a 4.2-liter V8 that delivers 420hp at 7,800rpm and 317 lb-ft of torque at 6,000rpm. It features Audi's acclaimed FSI Direct Injection, which was developed in the R8 prototype race car. The engine is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission, which is the only transmission offered on this car. The suspension is pretty straightforward for a high performance sedan, with an independent 4-link layout in front with single-tube shocks and coil springs, and a double-wishbone layout in the rear. The RS4 also uses anti-roll bars on both ends.

The RS4's huge Brakes are taken directly from the Lamborghini Gallardo (Audi owns Lamborghini, in case you didn't hear) and features vented and cross-drilled rotors on all four corners, with eight-piston calipers in the front. Being an Audi, the RS4 of course has Quattro all-wheel drive, but has a 40/60 front/rear torque split to give the car a more rear-wheel drive character. Also contributing the cars dynamics is Audi's Dynamic Ride Control, which uses a hydraulic valve that is interconnected between the shocks to reduce pitch and roll sensitivity.

In design, the RS4 is unmistakably an Audi and is possibly the best looking model in Audi's current model lineup. With its dual exhausts, flared fenders, lowered stance (by 30mm vs. the A4), sporty alloy wheels and cross drilled brakes with painted calipers, the RS4 is much more aggressive looking than the A4 on which it is based and looks very much the ultra-fast sports sedan that it is. To see if the RS4 lives up to its specs and its looks, we decided to take the RS4 to Watkins Glen for some hot laps with Trackmasters, which we test with often. Pro racer David Murry just happened to be there on the same day, so we arranged for him to spend a session in the car and get his feedback. It didn't take much effort to talk him into it. . . . .
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