Speaking of which, I did manage to reach at least 180 mph for a long stretch or two, and the staunch stability of the RS6 R cannot quite be rivaled even by the latest Abt-Sportsline RS6 Avant. MTM always goes for more aggression in its treatments, and on a smooth highway with no speed limit, this wagon is unshakeable. If it sprouted wings on the sides it might take off smooth as silk. But for everyday driving, I'd take either the 19-inch or 20-inch Bimoto forged wheels instead of these bodacious cast 21s.

Once the next-generation RS6 variants come out in 2011 or 2012, only then will all of this goodness be available to North Americans.

Burning Fat-paring the B7 RS4 down to fighting weight
*The current RS4, like the RS6 Avant I recently heaved around Germany, always felt as though it weighed twice what it should. It was as though I was sitting on an elephant's neck, urging the beast to do-eventually-most of what I pleased. Basically, a chore.

To address my whining, and to bless the sad passing of the short-lived B7 RS4, MTM has created its RS4 Clubsport. I'm greeted by no rear seats, a bolt-in steel cage (that weighs as much as the two missing seats but pulls its weight by adding gobs of rigidity), a functioning hood scoop, large Bimoto wheels hiding substantial suspension and brake improvements, and a four-tip Top Gear cat-back exhaust. Should be swell fun even without a power/torque upgrade.

But a power/torque upgrade there indeed is. From 414 hp at 7800 rpm on the stock RS4 sedan, we leap to a superchargeriffic 542 hp way in hell up there at 8220 rpm (530 hp quoted for the U.S.). Torque shifts from 317 lb-ft at 5500 rpm up to 418 lb-ft at 4800. Sixty should be reachable in just 3.7 seconds versus the old 4.6. I'd say the stage is pretty much set.

Nonetheless, I had to ask the dicey question about how much weight MTM pulled out. Technical know-it-most Michael Weber looked at the ceiling, mentally assessing the kilograms ripped forth, and estimated thus: "Right away we probably removed 200 kg, and that was before doing anything special." As I suspected, weight removal on an Audi is simple work. That's 441 pounds right off the bat, so curb weight plummets from 3,957 pounds to a svelte 3,546.

I sit in the sensational Recaro Pole Position seats and take it all in. Feel in the cabin is truly that of a pilot's cockpit. The combo of the tremendously supportive front seats, missing rear seats and Wiechers half roll cage awakens the butterflies in my stomach.

Hit start and there's a big difference in presentation of credentials, even at idle. There's only a little NVH stuffing left in the front wall and the 4,163cc V8 engine sounds fantastic, as it should. A Lysholm twin-screw compressor clamps onto the top of the engine like an alien on John Hurt's face, space issues necessitating that fetching hood scoop. As I accelerate, the tight feeling of all movements and actions seems utterly new to me. After only a short bit of road, I have to say out loud that not only is this the best Audi I've driven, it's one of the best performance cars period.

Certainly, throttle give-and-take is aided by the 8.7 psi of boost pressure from the supercharger, but I also wondered why exactly they didn't pump it up even more-maybe 12? Weber tells me it was a conscious decision not to open the engine and lower compression. As it is, max pressure is up in the highest revs and I delight in the 8200-rpm shift points that are almost required for getting the most out of the car. Happily, below 5000 rpm the RS4 Clubsport is a solid everyday driver on city streets.

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