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|Audi New Zealand has priced the new RS4 $15,000 lower than the model it replaces, though some items standard previously are optional now. Photos supplied|
The higher they fly, the harder they fall - crushing depreciation is so often the elephant in the room in regard to extravagant cars; some really do take a heck of a pasting, often from the moment they leave the showroom.
Whether the Audi RS4 proves an exception to that rule has yet to be seen, but the news from the distributor the outgoing car, in wagon format at least, has the best residual value of any modern Audi is heartening.
That's not so much due to rarity than the car's status as a landmark drive; not only for its supercar-rivalling stonk but because it feels so pure in its responses.
The new Avant might one day achieve the collectable status now accorded the old, even if fanbase chat cites that the formula is not quite the same.
Yes, the magnificent hand-built V8 has been kept, with 22kW more power, but the old six-speed manual has been dropped in favour of a seven-speed automated box.
Currency conditions have helped Audi NZ to price the new RS4 $15,000 lower than the old, though some items standard previously are optional now. It's hardly bare-boned in standard spec, mind, with fat alloys, bi-xenons, leather, three-zone climate air conditioning, navigation and WiFi capability (though a mobile SIM card), a sports differential and RS steering wheel with shift paddles all included.
The new gearbox, while not as challenging as the old, is massively palatable. It still gives full manual control should that be required and provides a faster, smoother change quality, plus the benefits of quicker kick-off and improved fuel consumption.
Now producing 331kW and 430Nm, the RS4's engine has all the race-bred stonk you'd want, revving easily to the 8500rpm redline. The RS4 is also capable of putting all of that performance on the road, even in wet and slippery conditions, thanks to the Quattro all-wheel drive and a sophisticated stability control system.
Ticking off the $3400 Audi Drive Select system allows you to tailor the response of the transmission, steering, sport rear differential and throttle, but the adaptive suspension that comes with this is not a complete remedy to softening very harsh RS Sport settings.
Otherwise, the allure of a high-quality cabin with enough space for a family and luggage answers practical needs, while the look as much as the performance will continue to thrill. It remains every inch the muscular, very fast yet still quite subtle Audi station wagon.