RS4 Avant

If the snowboarding fraternity should ever choose a patron saint, chances are it would be Todd Richards. As a member of snowboarding's first clan, he was largely responsible for bringing the sport into the mainstream. Between managing his O-Matic snowboard brand, you will find Richards hosting the X games, Olympics, and other pro snowboarding venues with unbridaled enthusiasm.

Did we also mention the guy is an Audi fanatic? One could argue that's simply a by-product of living in snowy Colorado for half the year, a place AWD cars are actually needed. But does one really need a 550-hp RS4, a car so rare there are a only five federalized examples living in the entire country? Probably not, but that's the only way he would have it.

We featured one of Richards' Avant's last year and while it was a gorgeous example of the breed, his current ride is breathtaking. There's little doubt that Todd's RS4 is the fastest of the bunch thanks to the Cosworth-built engine, higher rev limit and even greater power band. It also seems that have the most solid chassis. Quattro GMBH claims the RS cars have additional reinforcements and the sheet metal unibody uses more welds for a stronger, tighter structure.

I had wanted to test the RS4 since the first spy pics trickled though the web. Here's a car built exclusively by Audi's Quattro GmbH hotrod division. What's it like to drive this RS4? It's freaking fast for starters. Firewall it and the car launches itself as though fitted with JATO rockets. The 19-inch BBS CH wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport rubber shudder a bit as the power is transferred from the Sachs clutch, through the modded gearbox, and finally to the road. From the driver's seat it's hard to tell it's a wagon and the beautifully appointed cabin feels more like a high performance coupe. The ride is firm yet compliant and the car feels much lighter than it really is.

The car also does very well on the twisty stuff. Despite its 3,850 pounds it goes around corners at speeds that would scare even some advanced drivers. So I'm really glad this car has the Alcon/Stasis 14-inch front brakes. I've made them so hot a small fire erupts as I brush by some knee-high weeds during a U-turn. The Ohlins dampers and Eibach springs play off each other beautifully. And while it appears the system is a "track" setup it's absolutely fine for street use.

I keep looking behind me, marveling at all the room back there. I can't help thinking again how it boggles the mind that this is a wagon-or station wagon as we used to call them in the old days.

Time changes fast.

2002 Audi RS4 Avant

Layout
Longitudinal front engine, all-wheel drive

Engine
2.7-liter V6, dohc, 24-valve, twin-turbocharged. Evolution Racewerks intercoolers, custom downpipes and sport exhaust, GIAC software

Transmission
Six-speed manual, Sachs sport clutch, center diff upgrade

Suspension
Eibach ERS springs, Ohlins Motorsport dampers

Brakes
Alcon/Stasis assemblies with four-piston calipers (f), OEM RS4 assemblies with full floating rotors (r)

Wheels and Tires
BBS CH, 10x19
Michelin Pilot Sport PS2

Performance*

Peak Power: 550 hp @ 7300 rpm
Peak Torque: 550 lb-ft @ 5200 rpm
GMG Racing data

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