The deep south of Cape Town is notorious for tourists, viewing the penguins on bolders beach, or visiting Cape Point – the most southern tip of Africa (not really, Cape Agullus is). So weekends are bad for the locals who aren’t on a Sunday drive.
But it’s not the weekend, it’s a Tuesday morning. The school run is complete, most people are at work, and the further south you head, the quieter the roads become. This is a good thing.
One of my favorite stretches of road is Red Hill in Simons Town. It’s the default test road for just about any car I drive. And today it’s looking particularly stunning. It’s not even 9am and it’s already 22 degrees, with a light on-shore breeze. The mountain road is quiet… except for the gargle and spitting of the V8 in the RS4.
I’ve driven many V6′s that are tuned to sound like a V8, but few of them sound anywhere as good as a proper V8 being reved. And boy does the RS4 do a good job of revving.
The first time Audi built an ‘RS’ was the RS2, and it was a joint venture between Audi and Porsche nearly 20 years ago now. Back then the 2-litre 5 Cylinder gave you 232kW. 20 years later you’ve got a whopping 331kW at your disposal.
Put your foot down and you’ll find the power is insatiable, at least on this stretch of road. Even with the ultra brilliant Quattro system holding onto the road like white on rice, you’re likely to chicken out long before the car lets up on the power and the grip. But it’s not all bad. Once you’ve set the Drive Select to Dynamic, the steering is noticeably weightier, and for good reason.
The agility with which the RS4 devours a corner is a little disconcerting. This is after all a family wagon, and the family would protest any such cornering if they were present in the car. But they’re not, not today. Today it’s an empty car, empty road and twisty bends.
Red Hill is full of sharp corners and short straights, so you never get anywhere near the top end of the power delivery, but you get to know the handling of the RS4 intimately.
The Audi RS4 is a far simpler car than you’d imagine. Sure it’s riding on (optional) 20″ wheels, and with the flick of a switch you’ve gone from Dynamic to Comfort. Of course the Quattro system is actually some voodoo magic keeping the car on the road, and that all makes the car brilliant. But the most brilliant part of the car, is simply knowing that it’ll do what you tell it to do.
You know what to expect when you turn into the next corner. You know that when you put your foot down, you’ll get an instant, yet smooth power delivery way way up on the rev counter. It’s not skittish, it’s stable, and imperiously so, which lets you worry less about becoming aquatinted with cliff you’re hurting towards and lets you just enjoy the drive.
Lets not forget that this is still, a family car. It’s the sort of car that your wife can take to the shops and put all the groceries in the back. The bucket seats keep you firmly in your place when you’re going fast, yet they’re comfortable to sit in on a family holiday.
In terms of balance, for an every day car that can deliver astonishing amounts of power, and is very very quick, the RS4 is perfectly balanced. In fact it’s so good I want one. Badly.