TRUE car fans see the birth of electric motoring as the end of performance and fun.
But ironically it is responsible for some of the most bonkers petrol-powered cars ever. Hear me out.
Engineers used to have the CEO’s ear in the boardroom at companies like Mercedes, BMW and Audi.
But now the most important people in the room are the battery management experts and the interior tech guys — pushing the engine and chassis heads further down the table.
But rather than shrinking into the background, they see it as an opportunity to show us what they can really do.
That’s how we have ended up with the Audi RS4 Competition.
It’s faster than a regular RS4 — but not by doing the obvious and increasing horsepower and torque. That would be too easy.
Those figures remain the same at 450hp and 600Nm.
They’ve done it by applying every last bit of their knowledge to crank out even more trouser- tightening thrills from a family car that was already mental.
Shorter shift times, sharper steering, stiffer anti-roll bars, revised quattro sport differential, manually adjustable coilover suspension, three-way adjustable dampers, sticky Pirelli tyres, modified exhaust flap control, less sound deadening, and a bit less weight.
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The result being: Two tenths quicker off the line, top speed increased to 180mph, mega grip and handling for cornering faster than you’d ever believe.
It almost defies physics.
And it sounds bloody ace.
But it’s not just the Audi boys up to these tricks. We are seeing this skunkworks-style last hurrah treatment elsewhere.
I’m thinking BMW M3 Touring, developed in secret by the engineers in their lunch hour — then presented to the board.
Then there’s the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance.
OK, it’s had a dose of electric but the main legwork is done by a 2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing 476hp. Mental.
So that’s Audi Sport, BMW M and AMG all producing their absolute committed best all-wheel drive estates, within three months of each other.
As I said, true car fans have never had it so good.
Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you any of these cars are cheap. Far from it. They all start with an eight.
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But the RS4 Competition could be considered a bit of a bargain as it’s £2k cheaper than a fully-loaded RS4 Vorsprung.
That said, the regular RS4 Avant is £16k cheaper — that’s a lot of family holidays in the sun — and is just as satisfying.
You’d only really go RS4 Competition if you wanted a family car six days a week and a serious track toy for day seven.
As for the cabin, that’s typical Audi. Clinical. Tech-rich. And surprisingly comfy. The ride quality in Comfort mode is impressive.
The boot is more than decent at 495 litres and will swallow all the usual family debris. Just remember to add luggage nets for the Friday shop. I don’t need to explain why.
Flip down the rear seats and the load space trebles to 1,495 litres, big enough to haul pretty much anything and everything wherever you need.
Audi won’t tell you this but the next RS4 will be very different.
It will be a plug-in hybrid for a start. Which means it will be heavier, with a smaller boot, and more expensive.
And it’ll be called RS5.
Forget everything you know about Audi’s naming convention because in future, petrol- powered cars will use odd numbers and electric cars will have even numbers.
So we’ll get a battery- powered RS4 e-tron estate and an RS5 hybrid estate.
Confused? Don’t be. Stick with today’s RS4 because that’s close to automotive perfection for true car fans.
KEY FACTS: AUDI RS4 COMPETITION
Engine: 2.9-litre biturbo V6
Power: 450hp, 600Nm
0-62mph: 3.9 secs
Top speed: 180mph
Farewell to greats
THIS is it. Goodbye. The last R8. And the last TT. Two of Audi’s greatest creations consigned to the annals of history. But they are going out with a bang.
Let’s start with the R8 GT, Audi’s final V10 supercar.
Power hiked to 620 horses, rear-drive, fixed rear wing, carbon everything, 199mph, seven levels of rear-axle slippage for hero drifts. Dang.
Audi has confirmed the R8 successor due in 2025 will be electric.
It will be crazy fast for sure, and drifty, but it won’t make your neck hairs all tingly like the sound of an angry naturally aspirated V10. You can hear one from five miles away.
I’m just as gutted about losing the TT. My missus had the original. This farewell TT RS Coupe Iconic Edition is 400hp, 4WD and dripping in aero kit. It’s basically a baby R8, only three tenths slower off the line, for much less than half the price. It costs £87,650.
At least that five-cylinder engine lives on in the RS3.