While Audi and fast estates have been a match made in heaven for decades, the recently-released BMW M3 Touring upset the applecart and exposed Audi’s RS4 as lackluster. Can the updated Audi RS4 Competition save the B9 generation? That’s what I’m here to find out.

Audi. While famous for its quattro system, has faced a great deal of criticism over the years. I can admit that I am one of those who criticized some of the brand’s vehicles. Take the outgoing TT RS, for example. That five-cylinder engine is a peach to listen to, but mated to the S-tronic gearbox, it feels lazy and suffers terribly with turbo lag.  Show it a corner, and the equal power distribution between front and rear is blindingly obvious, as the more throttle you applied, the more it understeered.

But, there is good news. Audi is going in the right direction. And this RS4 Competition variant is a prime example of that. We first saw this new era come to light with the latest RS3. Far more agile, and with a want to go sideways thanks to a 70% rear bias power delivery, it felt exciting to drive. If I’m honest, that’s not a term I’ve used to describe many Audi driving experiences over the past few years.

Why has Audi built an RS4 competition?

I drove the regular Audi RS4 back in 2022. There’s no doubt that it was a fast car. It had a point and go attitude, once the wheels were straight, slam the throttle and that 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 would hurl you down the road at a huge rate of knots. However, show it a corner and all that weight and size suddenly revealed itself in a bucket load of understeer, numb feedback and a dull driving experience. It was missing character. Missing that feeling that makes you want to take the long route home. Something, oddly, the B8 and B7 RS4 generations had more of.

With BMW launching the brilliant M3 Touring in 2023, Audi had to save face. Here was a manufacturer that had lightly dabbled in fast estates throughout history, but never fully committed to it, releasing a similarly-priced estate that was not only faster and arguably better looking, but one that left you smiling after every single drive. Audi had no choice but to make changes.

Wheels on Audi RS4 Competition

What’s new on the Audi RS4 Competition over the regular car?

What do you exactly get for your £84,600? For starters, those looking for more power better look away now. You still get the same 444bhp and 430lb ft of torque from the 2.9-liter twin-turbo. Audi has instead turned its attention to the chassis. Out goes the dynamic suspension system, and in comes a set of adjustable coilovers. The rear differential also has been tweaked to allow for more slip and the numb steering feel has had some life injected into it by removing the speed-adjusted ratio in place of a fixed ratio.

Elsewhere, you get a new 19-inch wheel design wrapped in new Pirelli P Zero tires. Inside, you get sports seats as standard in the UK, while European cars are equipped with fancier bucket seats. There’s no choice of colour here, you can only have it in Black.

Audi RS4 Competition  driving shot

What’s it like to drive?

For what is essentially a few chassis changes, it’s surprising quite how much the Competition variant sharpens the RS4. Now sitting somewhere around 10mm lower than the regular RS4, it’s much happier attacking a set of corners, managing to hide its size and weight as it transitions left to right. It’s not a sports car. Nor will it ever be. But, you could be fooled into thinking there’s a lot more wizardry at play here. Best of all, the introduction of coilovers doesn’t appear to have affected the ride quality on the whole, despite the fact you can’t dial the firmness down at the touch of a button anymore. It is firmer, but not enough to disrupt the day-to-day comfort.

The biggest improvement, however, is the way the car feels. Gone has the numb steering feel and lackluster body dynamics. There is finally some feedback from the steering wheel thanks to the fixed ratio steering. It feels more alive, and more connected to the road. It’s a quattro Audi that feels exciting to drive, and that’s a big compliment for a B9-generation that had so far been a sad way to see out the last-ever RS4 as we know it.

Audi RS4 Competition  engine shot

The engine

That engine feels as strong as ever, but there is a noticeable lag when hitting the throttle. It seems to be consistent across all of the RS range, no matter what engine it is; whether that’s the six-cylinder engine we have here, or the 5-pot and V8. Whatever it is, it can be frsutrating, but you do learn to live with it, and adapt the way you drive on corner exits to accommodate for the lag. The result is that you hit the throttle earlier in the mid-corner, and then by the exit, you’re on full throttle. The combined performance and the adjusted chassis means that you can get the thing sideways if you aren’t careful. But, in true fashion, the RS4 Competition does bring you back in line.

What I will say, however, is that with the chassis now being far more capable, this updated model should have seen an increase in power. The chassis never has any trouble distributing the 444bhp available. I’d have liked to have seen some ECU tweaks unlock closer to 500bhp. This would have seen it more closely matched with the M3 Touring.

exhaust tips

How fast is the Audi RS4 Competition?

Officially, the Audi RS4 Competition does 0-62mph (0-100km/h) in a whopping 3.9 seconds. Audi RS’s have always been strong off the line thanks to its Quattro drivetrain layout, so no surprises there. The RS4 Competition has a top speed of 180mph, rather than the standard 155mph top speed limit normally given to German performance models.

Audi RS4 Competition  interior

What’s it like to live with?

Truth be told, it’s a big Audi that simmers down day to day, taking in the weekly shop, weekend trips away, ferrying kids around or whatever it may be. It’s as calm around town as any Audi, and with a 494 liter boot space, it has more than enough room to pack in the golf clubs, bikes etc. That being said, do make sure you drive in comfort or auto driving mode while in standstill traffic or around town. In the car’s sportiest setting, there’s an odd lurching sensation between gear changes and also when coming to a standstill, almost as if it isn’t happy being in 1st gear and coming to a stop. It can be uncomfortable for passengers and is something that plagues the RS Audis.

With Apple CarPlay, heated seats and the virtual cockpit, the RS4 Competition behaves like an Audi should on the road. The cabin feels like a nice place to be, with buttons, dials and switches all finished in metal that give off a satisfying click when operating them. It feels suitably premium in here, and as it should for near-on £85,000. Audi has really nailed the car’s interior, and hasn’t quite been plagued by the new fashion of long, connected screens across the dashboard. The virtual cockpit takes some getting used to in order to nail down your muscle memory, but there are an endless amount of features that can be accessed on the display via the car’s steering wheel that you almost never need to use the 2nd central screen.


On a longer motorway run, I managed to average around 30mpg, which is slightly better than the quoted combined figure of 28-29mpg. On shorter journeys and around town, this figure dwindled to the low 20s. For more spirited driving, expect around 15-20mpg.

Front on shot of Audi RS4 Competition

Audi RS4 Competition verdict

A part of me is sat here thinking this is the car Audi should have given us from the day the B9-generation RS4 was launched. It needn’t have been a limited run model released in the final year of production. The Competition variant not only feels more alive, and much more engaging, but it looks cleaner, and more aggressive too. The drop in ride height thanks to those coilovers and the additional of the new wheel design has transformed the appearance. Some might argue it loses the wolf in sheep’s clothing appeal, but I think it does justice to the performance that it beholds.

While the RS4 Competition is a much improved version of the RS4, it still lacks behind the thrill of the BMW M3 Touring. That car makes you feel more involved, and despite having 4WD, still feels RWD driven. In fact, the car’s configuration settings allows the car to be driven in RWD mode only, so you can still get plenty of sideways action to liven up the experience. In truth, the RS4 Competition should have been the car Audi gave us back in 2018 when the B9 RS4 was launched. The regular car feels lackluster in comparison to the Competition, reaffirming that it wasn’t one of Audi RS department’s finest hour.

Thankfully, though, the Competition model sees out RS4 production with somewhat of a bang. Given the chance, we’d still snap up a B7 RS4 in a heartbeat.

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