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Audi has returned to its roots with the latest RS4. The marque’s first-ever RS-car, the RS2, was based on the Audi 80 and available only as an Avant station wagon.

The new model is built around the Audi A4 – the modern version of the 1994 80 ­ and again comes only in Avant form.

Whether the two have much in common beyond that is open to debate. The latest RS-car is a genuine supercar and packed with the kind of technology that the automotive world was only dreaming about 18 years ago.

The RS4 Avant is powered by a 4.2-litre direct-injection V8, making a monster 331kW/430Nm and capable of revving to 8250rpm. This $154,000 machine can hit 100km/h in 4.7 seconds, yet is still capable of Combined fuel economy of 10.7 litres per 100km .

Despite the supercar credentials, this is a very easy car to drive. The sole transmission option is a seven-speed S tronic automated dual-clutch unit, and the Quattro four-wheel drive provides a surfeit of traction in any conditions.

The RS4’s Quattro system features a self-locking crown gear centre differential and torque vectoring, which monitors steering angle and throttle position to proactively brake individual wheels and ensure the optimum distribution of power.

The RS4 is also fitted with Audi’s sport differential as standard. In addition to the torque vectoring system, this has the ability to apply extra power to the outside rear wheel during hard driving, in effect helping to push the car around corners.

It all sounds a bit too easy. The RS4 certainly doesn’t have to be hard work of you don’t want it to be. But it’s impossible to call it dull, with such ferocious acceleration and extreme roadholding ability on tap. Other super-sedans (or wagons) might be more engaging, but few can match the RS4’s awesome A-to-B ability.

Nor does the car lack road presence. If the gaping front air intakes don’t get you, the signature-RS squared-off wheel arches and 20mm-lower ride height will. It’s impossible to mistake this nuggety machine for an ordinary A4 Avant. Not that you’ll see it for long if the driver has a taste for performance motoring.

Here’s something that might surprise you: the RS4 is expected to clock up 75 sales next year, which will make it the most popular single A4 variant in the range. Nothing but the best for Kiwi A4 buyers, apparently.

Auto Trader New Zealand