Audi RS4 Avant
0-62mph 4.1 seconds
Top speed 174mph
From the grind of the school run to the unfettered joy of a summer holiday, our cars bear witness to so much of both the dross and gloss of our lives. New research by the Car People has put some numbers on what a standard car in Britain experiences in the five-year period it will, on average, spend in our company. It will listen in to 187 heated arguments; sit quietly through 137 naps (not while you’re actually driving, obvs); peep at 275 kisses and creak on its springs through one sexual encounter. There will also be 143 games of “eye spy”. Then there’s the less fun stuff: your car will undertake 515 parallel parks, picking up two scratches along the way. It will receive one speeding ticket, one parking ticket, get one flat, be part of one collision and, sadly, kill one small animal.
This week I’ve been driving a car which is also all about numbers: but these are figures to make your hair do a Mexican wave and your stomach do the cha-cha-cha. It has a V6 engine with anger issues: it revs to 8,500rpm, will blast you to 62mph in an eye-bulging 4.1 seconds and tops out at a preposterous 174mph. But these wild west numbers don’t tell anything like the whole story. The Audi RS4 Avant is also a car of subtlety and grace.
When the original launched in the 1990s, it was the first of the Germanic super estates, ushering in a generation of colossally over-endowed shooting brakes. These cars offered the previously untried combination of the wholesome practicality of an estate with the unwholesome performance of a getaway car.
This newest RS4 Avant is lighter, more nimble and even quicker than its outgoing sister. The engine is actually slightly smaller, too, a twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 replacing the monstrous V8. But, being smarter, the RS4 is able to get more from less. Some may grumble the tidier engine doesn’t have the throaty rasp of the V8, but to my ears the rumbling from the twin exhausts may have been slightly muted but it still kicked more than enough ass. Think of it as a V8 sucking a throat lozenge.
Externally, Audi has blessed its RS4 with a few more visual cues to its awesomeness than is customary for this famously understated brand. There’s the girth of the wheels, the flare of the arches and the depth of the bumper scoops. Step inside and the cabin is, frankly, superb. You’d have to put on white cotton gloves and wear a watchmaker’s monocle to find fault with any of the finishing. Behind the steering wheel stretches Audi’s excellent digital Virtual Cockpit – intuitive and functional. There’s plenty of room for three adults on the back seat and, being an estate, you get a jumbo 505-litres.
But forget all that. This is a true driver’s car. It has searing pace and the more you press the throttle, the more astounded you are. Open the taps and the power doesn’t arrive in a dribble but in a flood. It’s precise, agile, athletic. If you owned this car for five years you’d be lucky to get away with one speeding ticket. And you won’t be wasting any time playing eye spy…
How to avoid a having a ‘cargument’
The stress of being on the road leads to more bickering and bust-ups than anywhere else in our weekly lives and one in four domestic bust-ups happen in our cars. These ‘carguments’ range from falling out over directions, to your partner’s driving skills, going too fast and what’s on the radio. Research conducted by independent car buying site Carwow revealed that the fall out from an in-car bust-up can last longer, too, with one in eight of those surveyed admitting they can go anything from three hours to more than a day before speaking to their partner again. Women admit to starting more in-car arguments than men, with those aged under 24 most likely to lose their temper. Arguing in the car was top of the pile for locations of our domestic strife, just above the kitchen, the bedroom and the bathroom.
Dr Sandi Mann, from the University of Central Lancashire, says the survey of 2,000 people confirms that the car is a hotspot for domestic disagreements. She says: “The act of driving brings stress of its own and a driver can already be stressed and frustrated by so many triggers on the road such as traffic, inconsiderate driving, roadworks, etc. So throw another person into the mix and it’s always going to have the potential to be explosive. The triggers for an argument are far more prevalent in driving situations, too: your partner’s individual habits come to the fore; perhaps in their lack of willingness to ask for directions, their tendency to drive too fast, or aggression towards other drivers. All of these things can wind another person up. And once an argument starts, neither of you can go anywhere until the journey is over, so it’s only going to go one of two ways: a dramatic silence or, far more likely, a spin-off into other topics where one or both of you are harbouring a grudge.
“The ways to avoid arguing in a car are the same as anywhere else – one side can just stop talking as it’s impossible to argue with yourself. Or once you realise a row is brewing, you can take deep breaths and count to 10 before speaking again in an attempt to calm your thoughts.”
Summer is almost here. We are soon all going to be couped up in cars and there will definitely be some raised voices. So try and stay calm, be kind and remember that it is all worth it as soon you will have reached your holiday destination…
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