Chasing a silver R8 V10 and two other RS4’s up a long hill with the throttle of the RS4 pinned to the floor and a familiar whuummpp sound as the S-tronic box selects yet another gear is a moment I will long remember. The RS4 is a devastatingly fast way to carry your family around safely, at a speed point I will leave to your imagination, the R8 V10 is even faster and disappears over the top of the hill.
Welcome to the Audi RS4 Ride and Drive event at Oulton Park.
Go, just go. If you get an e-mail or call from Audi offering you one of these RS4 ride and drive day and you in any way like cars (what are you doing on here if you don’t?) just go and enjoy it. I’ve been on a few manufacturer events and this was the best in terms of time in the car and organisation and by far. Even the car park on arrival was fun to look at – it was like my recurring list of cars I want to own all in one place – lots of RS3’s, a few RS4’s, a C63 AMG, an RS5 and a GTR.
No nannying instructors or excessive rules and plenty of time, foremost as driver and also passenger, in the new RS4.
I’ll take one in blue please.
My day started on track – after some hospitality and an upmarket take on the bacon roll it is all very VIP. For both the track and road driving event you share a car with another guest and no instructor. This is a huge leap forward from the days of having someone, usually a brilliant race driver who is a terrible passenger, in the car with you telling you every move.
The instructor is in this RS5 linked to you by 2-way radio.
You only get to see this view of the RS5 once out on track…
The first 6 laps are sighters, 3 laps for you, 3 laps for your car sharing friend for the day. All the guests on my day were friendly and chatty but I guess it helps if you make a bit of effort yourself. Your instructor in the RS5 leads 2 RS4’s out on to the track. The instructor starts the laps dead slow – just as with many track days – and then builds the pace to a canter across the 3 laps. The only rule is keep up and keep things tidy, take wild bites of the curbs or get on the grass and things slow down. Keep a tidy fast line and you get pedal faster, it’s clever and it works
To the track!
Once you’ve completed the sighting laps it’s on the real fun. You switch position again and it’s your second time behind the wheel. This time each driver gets about 7 laps (I lost count but I think that’s about right) and the instructor in the RS5 really ups the pace as long as both following cars are keeping up.
The instructors manage the speed on the fastest sections but you get plenty of chance to experience all the car has to offer through the corners and under full acceleration. By the end of the session you’ll be going plenty fast enough to test the car and more likely your own limits.
Your Fast Lap – What you can expect driving the car on track
I’ll talk through the instructor fast lap later but for now this was my experience behind the wheel.
Aural pleasure, before the lap it’s something we have to talk about. The overriding impression of the RS4 is the aural drama, what an incredible noise. In fact it’s beyond a noise it’s more a feeling and it is truly special. Every time you approach the redline there is a glorious explosion of V8 symphony, words really do little justice to something that resonates through you.
You start the lap crossing the start/finish line and firing fairly quickly (the instructor in the RS5 managing top speed here) into Old Hall Corner, the RS4 is superb under braking and you feel the mass of the car pushing towards the outside of the track here. You stay out wide left to go through a fast right kink at Dentons. This leads into a big braking area and you turn in when you reach an exit slip road. The positive braking and turn in of the new RS4 make this corner a joy to drive through and blast out of. Up the hill now through the fast left kink Island Bend before braking hard into the 180 hairpin at Shell Oils Corner. Stay high and wide here and cut in for the late apex and you get to feel the Quattro system deploy all that glorious grip, run the car out to the curbs and up towards the first Chicane at Brittens. This is a brilliant corner for demonstrating the immense brakes, traction through the left right chicane and just how early you can get on the throttle to fly up over Hill Top – here on our run the instructor held nothing back, full throttle pinned over the crest, huge fun. The hard braking area into Hizzy’s Chicane tests the stability under braking to the full. Turn in right across the curbs at the limit of grip with the RS4 just beginning to enter a neutral slide. Thunder out on full throttle with all those alluring V8 aurals playing their tune. On the full power exit you launch over a crest and will feel the car rise and go slightly light for a fraction of a second. It is all fun but without any drama. Next you are into druids corner which sucks you in deep on the brakes – this corner was made for AWD because just as you feel the car begin to lose traction (equally at all corners) apply the throttle and it drives itself out with stunning force. The easy transition from grip-slip- grip is an addictive sensation. Finally you brake hard for lodge corner and fire once again on to the curving start finish straight. It’s a real roller coaster ride and you will wish you could continue lapping.
Oulton Park looking good, Cascades Corner as seen from the Fogarty Moss Centre
Next up came the road drive session which was a bit tame after the track session (better to do the road section first if you get the chance imo). Again you drive in pairs but this time you are keeping up with an instructor in an R8 V10!
Again you line up to take your cars and get about 30 minutes each of on road driving in a convoy of one R8 and 2 RS4’s.
Traffic is a bit hit and miss but there are plenty of opportunities to experience full throttle moments. With Drive Select in Comfort Mode it’s a nice place to be meandering through the traffic. Dynamic is a little harsh on passengers. My buddy for the road driving session had sunk a few the night before and went a bit green. That might have been due to my use of the launch control system – I let the R8 and other 2 RS4’s disappear for a few moment. Disengage ESP, hit sport mode on the s-tronic and whey the RS4 launch is brutal and delights the ears. I’ve already told you about the best part of the road run chasing the R8 up the long hill so there isn’t much more to say. One more play with the launch control in the paddock area and it was back to the track for a hot lap.
The silver twins head out for a hot lap
If you have any doubt about the ability of the RS4 after these sessions the hot lap will give you another perspective. The race drivers push the RS4 to the limit, from the passenger seat you can feel the tail stepping out under braking and the fight for traction as you run toward yet another curb. Lets be clear though the feeling is one of neutrality and balance not the wild understeer you hear some popular journalists bang on about. I was truly amazed at how much speed you can carry in to a corner, how early the race driver got back on the loud pedal and just how much extra grip was available.
The morning is capped off with an agreeable lunch and war stories from the session– take the other half with you If you can they will love the hospitality.
Thank you Audi for a most enjoyable day. The new RS4 is an exciting car, a real world super car for those who need four doors and luggage space. Would I buy one? Yes, without hesitation if I needed a bit more practicality but with the same soul as my RS3.
What was I really left wanting? One of these for the weekend with the RS3 for the commute, well we can all dream!