Exterior Design: ****
Johnson: I really like the cut of the RS4's jib. The flared fenders are suitably butch and don't look tacky. Plus the fronts feature that cool disappearing-cut-line trick. The wheels are tasteful and display the Gallardo-type brakes with bravado, but withhold from Federline-emblazoned, yellow-painted ostentatiousness. And of course, it's got heaps of Q-factor. We couldn't tell it from a regular, pedestrian S4 until we'd smoked the guy in the regular, pedestrian S4 on PCH. What's more, dude gave us the thumbs-up when he pulled up to the next light.
Loverman: We smoked him good, and how! The RS4's got the big, angry face that the German manufacturers are all up ons with these days. The lights are complex and intricate, just like every other modern luxury ride. The Audi grille sans front plate is shockingly good-looking, but this car is from the great state of Michigan — California versions look buck-toothed with the useless-yet-mandatory second numberplate. The 19" wheels and dwarf-profile tires look intimidating, especially stuffed full of those awesome Lambo-pilfered seventeen-foot diameter brakes with 9-million piston calipers. The backside is my favorite view. Nothing looks too different from your run of the mill daddy's-little-girl A4. And then you walk backwards a few feet and notice that if Audi hadn't massively flared out the fenders, the rear wheels would stick out a foot from the body. Quite Q. Though, give me Emil's gray version any day over the wannabe-Subaru blue.
Interior Design ***
Johnson: It's an Audi, hence the interior rocks. The speakers in the forward bit of the rear-passenger doors are a great touch. The stereo's not particularly great, and the seats inhale an alpaca's ass at fifty yards. Unless you're going bass-licks-on-your-grave-type fast — then they're adequate. But why does it manage to score even three stars with that against it? Two words, kids: Gun Compartments.
Loverman: I'm really mixed on the interior. It's done up in the standard Darth-Vader-red-lights-on-black-on-black theme that Audi's Bavarian friends are just as obsessed with. Where's the light and airy wonderment found in the A6 and A8? However, since it is an Audi everything clicks cool and feels good. Remember when I made you stroke the shaft of the gear lever, Johnson? I mean, billet aluminum - talk about going the extra mile. And the steering wheel is meaty and proper. While I don't despise the seats nearly as much as you do, they really should have thrown the Euro-racing buckets into the Team USA edition. These guys are 377-way adjustable, so you can get comfy for fifteen minutes. But then they start to wear you down. Though, it must be pointed out that the under-the-knee bolster on the driver's seat can be slid out, and I already miss it. What I don't miss is the triple-lame carbon fiber trim. Three stars indeed.
Loverman: The RS4 is a cannonball. Stupid, stupid crazy-fast. It hits 100mph when your car hits 60 mph (or in Johnson's case, 30 mph). When that S4 was in front of us, we were gaining on him so rapidly an onlooker would have thought he wasn't trying. Or even moving. [I will break in and second this - DGJ] Only he was. And the acceleration is not just lunatic-fast from a standing start. Going from lazy freeway speeds to sinfully-illegal velocities happens faster than you can say, "What seems to be the trouble, officer?" The gear doesn't matter either. Go ahead, stomp it at 80mph in 6th and the damn thing just goes faster. There is no better way to explain it than this; 90% of the torque is available between 2,500rpm and 7,000rpm. That said, 100% of the 317lbs. ft of torque is available from 3,000rpm up to 7,000rpm. Amazing.
Johnson: It accelerates as mightily as Wonder Woman's invisijet. At one point, I accidentally knocked it into third instead of first while leaving an intersection. And hot damn if it didn't chug merrily away. That friends, is torque. Torque is your friend, and Audi has slathered it all over this motor's powerband like it was a Hawaiian Tropic model in heat.
Loverman: Dude, you could have started in fifth.
Johnson: There is nothing to be said about these brakes other than that they should be mandatory on every car.
Loverman: When I'm in charge, these brakes will be mandatory on every car. When I was letting Autoblog Frank pilot the RS4, I instructed him to stomp on the brakes as hard as he could. As far as I can tell, he's still laughing. That was three days ago.
Loverman: Giving the RS4 three stars for ride is a bit of a stretch. Audi's uber-pocket rocket is rougher than this Chinese woman I once paid to walk on my back. Wait a minute - that's not what I paid her for... Regardless, the ride is punishing around town. I can allow for three-star action only because at high speeds on smooth roads, she rides quite nice. Considering that the tires are no thicker than beef jerky, quite impressive, too. Just stay away from expansion joints as they make the RS4 rock back and forth like a see-saw.
Johnson: It's beside the point to comment on the RS4's ride, really, although to my mind, it's better than one would expect from such a machine. Which is why it gets three stars instead of two. Then again, I don't generally like wallowy vehicles. I mean, I once drove a Plymouth Prowler three thousand miles, which is my benchmark for a bad ride. That may mean my brain is slightly cooked. That said, we were wiped out at the end of the day; driving an RS4 for long miles can definitely take it out of you. This may be the reason the Transporter dude ponied up for the S8.
Loverman: Not only as close to perfect as you are going to find on a production car — balanced, all-night long grip, capable of taking corners at stupefying speeds — but shocking, too. Pop the hood and you will see that the entire engine is in front of the half-shafts. All 317lbs. of it. The feeling is exactly like the shock I succumb to every time I climb out of an "ass-engined Nazi slot-car" - there is no logical reason for this machine to handle the way it does. Only it does. The only answer is magic.
Johnson: No, Jonny, the answer is computers and hyper-sticky rubber compounds coupled with that 60/40 rear-biased AWD system. It's absolutely astounding. And lifeless. It's Fine German Precision taken to its logical extreme, and I don't like that. I just had an early-'70s "ass-engined NSDAP staff slot-toy" blast past me on the way to the bodega, and was entirely struck by its purity of form. But the Audi is anything but pure. It's a hash. A sumptuous hash, to be sure, but the entire car is really just extremely delcious garnish surrounding a disappointing, overpriced meal. It's Coca-Cola made with corn syrup instead of real sugar. "Cloying" may be the actual right word. The Germans were better when they didn't know as much but had gotten past the whole bad warmongering time. Look out, honey 'cuz they're wasting technology.
Loverman: You're nuts.
Johnson: You drive a hatchback and refuse to admit it.
Loverman: Around town, the gearbox is a pain in the right arm/left foot. First gear is difficult to engage. The engine produces 90% of its torque at 2,500rpm, so unless you are planning on accelerating quickly (which you frankly should be planning for) there's a lot of shaking and shunting. But never mind any of that, as it is bollocks. The machine's sex pistol...err...clutch, is ideally positioned and weighted for heavy stomp-boxing. Moreover, there is tons of room to the left of the pedal for dumping it. The gearbox - which clunks around town - comes alive and is tied with the shifter on Mazda's Miata for the title of speed-shifting champ. You can bang it home with ease and confidence. Plus, with all that torque on tap, slamming through the gears results in pleasurable mule kicks to the skull. They could have set the shiny-pedals up better for proper heel and toe action, but the also-aluminum dead pedal rules.
Johnson: Shift-gate action was slightly nebulous, but well within the realm of the acceptable for a performance car. I actually didn't find first difficult to engage. Except for that one embarrassing incident somewhere in Thousand Oaks, which was due to me suddenly becoming irrationally used to just dumping the damn clutch and going. The car definitely inspires that sort of Pavlovian response. Then again, Jonny, you drive a stick day in and day out, and I only do so in press cars. Readers, take that statement and mull over both the positives and negatives of both sides. Some don't like the clutch; I thought it was great. The gearing is note-perfect. The powertrain in this car is simply stupendous. 'Nuff said.
Loverman: The stereo not only had more buttons than central command at the Johnson Space Center, but it sounded pretty poor. Worse than say, a certain Subaru. There was no video to speak of.
Johnson: Agreed. Stereo, not so good. And who needs video in a car like this, anyway? The only children in the backseat will be invariably lost to SIDS after a ride over Decker Canyon in the thing. The difference is, they'll be eight years old, instead of eight months old. Despite its four doors, this is emphatically not a family car.
Loverman: Unless you hate your family.
Johnson: Good point. Plus, the engine and exhaust sound so righteous, why would you want to listen to anything else? It almost makes the mighty Minutemen pale in comparison
Loverman: I don't know - blasting Black Flag's White Minority in a $70,000 Audi while tearing apart the hills of the Rancho Palos Verdes Peninsula holds a deeper meaning.
Johnson: I cannot argue with that statement within even a fraction of a percentage of an iota of a millimeter.
Johnson: Our RS4 didn't even have sat-nav, but I'm giving it five stars simply for the goddamn motor and brakes. Those are the only two toys you need. The sunroof was rather nifty, too, performing feats that may be available in 99% of other vehicles, but not all at the same time, in the same sunroof.
Loverman: If you include the engine than the RS4 gets 50 stars. But we're not going to do that, so it gets two. Aside from lack of sat-nav, the black leather seats in the $69,585 ride were not air-conditioned and it's hot in LA. The near-useless rear-views (why are they so small?) mandate a parking camera which wasn't there. Having to stick a key in an ignition is defeat-o-crat, post-9/11 thinking and the computer functions are not Porsche-simple to operate — even though they should be. There is a lap timer but you have to hit a hidden button four times in a row to find that out. Moreover, you don't click on "Lap Timer." You click on "Menu Off." Which makes no sense at all. Dear Audi, who employs the haptic engineers around here? The RS4 is saved from a single star by a simple interior addition: gun compartments.
Johnson: The decklid is short and the trunk is deep. Sexy and practical. What more do you need?
Loverman: What more do I need? For Audi to import the Avant stateside. Four stars.
Loverman: Shut up.
Johnson: You're spending around 70 large for a car that only a select few will know costs that much, which sort of kills any scoring-chicks-while-cruising-Sunset factor.
Loverman: Yeah, I tried that. Total failure. Not a single anyone - male, female, transvestite hooker - looked at me.
Johnson: For that kind of cash I could buy a Magnum PI-style 308, enjoy it more and have a six-month parts/labor budget. At which point I could sell it for what I paid, thus losing only 40 thousand on incidentals. That said, the RS4 does breathe the rarefied air of supercars and has serious "Why would you bother me, cop? I'm just an innocuous A4," law-enforcement-avoidance potential. And at least one Lambo owner kinda prefers it to his Gallardo SE.
Loverman: For the money, no better car exists. Forgetting about the money, it is still the best. There are a handful of cars (er...a couple handfuls) that get to 60mph faster but as a certain Lambo owner agreed with me, the RS4 feels just as fast, if not faster. Odds are if the car is faster, the RS4 handles better. And probably sounds better, to boot. Plus, nothing is cooler than a Q-car, and this is the Q-car king. And Davey - a 308 would make you look like such a tool. Ferrari's worst-ever car screams, 'I HAVE CHLAMYDIA" louder than even an El Camino. The fifth star is held back because in 620 miles I went through five tanks of the good stuff.
Johnson: So fucking what if I have chlamydia?
Emil and Keri's Party ****
Loverman: While loaded with legitimately hot chicks and funny, lecherous, car-loving men, I had exactly one beer over the course of six hours because getting pulled over drunk in the RS4 is for suckers. Especially since you know the damn cops would spend the rest of the night joyriding. And my costume was embarrassingly awful.
Johnson: Emil and Keri's party was yummy. That's all I'm going to say to protect the innocent. Your costume was chintzy, but I believe the embarrassingly-awful prize falls to me. The sad thing is, I got makeouts and you didn't.
Loverman: You're a softie. Anyhow, I find it odd that even six-and-a-half foot tall lingerie models lose their long-legged luster after lengthy periods of sobriety. Plus, two of the blondes were supposed to dyke-out on top of the Lambo, and that never happened. The food, however, was divine. As was Wonder Woman.
Johnson: Wait? Which blondes? Where was I?
Johnson: Oh, right...
Overall: (null and void)
Johnson: We can't agree on a star rating in this category. Jonny loved it too much and I disliked it too much. As Clarkson would say, it's a Marmite car. And while I respect it, I simply can't love it. And if I'm going to drop that kind of cash on a car, I have to love it. So, three stars, maybe?
Loverman: Marmite? Piss off. Giving the RS4 anything less than seven stars is a crime and I simply refuse to go lower than five. Remember the bon mot, "A car is only as good as its brakes?" Ten stars then. Engine? Eleventeen stars. The satisfied feeling from knowing you are behind the chunky wheel of the actual ultimate driving machine? We might have to move over to Hustler's movie rating system. With very few exceptions, I climb out of the cars I review and into my Subaru breathing a sigh of relief — ahh...good to be home. Today is the day the people took the Audi away and when I got into the WRX after a week of RS4age, I nearly broke down in tears. I've never wanted to be wealthy so bad. [Thanks to Autoblog Frank for the incriminating pic.]