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Driving the Audi RS4 – California Dreaming

Pasadena to Willow Springs
The line of RS4s was waiting behind the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel in Pasadena under a fine mist of heavy California “coastal haze”.

Audi RS4 Ritz Blog2.JPG

Grabbing the keys for a stunning muted silver RS4 my co-driver twisted the key (thankfully no start button like in Europe) and the 420-horsepower V8 rumbled to life. Luckily he got to drive the first (lots of congestion) half of the route from Pasadena to the Hidden Springs Cafe on Angeles Crest Highway. As navigator, I listened to positive descriptions of shift quality and engine tractability. After all, with all that torque on demand, you could keep the RS4 in fifth and negotiate most of the winding mountain roads from leaving the Freeway to Hidden Springs.
Audi RS4 Hidden Springs Blog.jpg

By the time we had reached Angeles Crest, the day had turned glorious and the Los Angeles funkiness was left far behind. Now… for Willow Springs and some real driving. Switching drivers at Hidden Springs, I got to drive the RS4.
The dynamics of the car are outstanding. It goes where pointed. The engine sound is thrilling under full throttle. The ride is very well controlled but just a bit harsh – not unexpected with an aggressive suspension set-up and 19-inch tires and wheels. Nice ride – puts a smile on your face.

Willow Springs – Yeah, We HAD TO Drive RS4 Around a Track
Willow Springs Raceway is a smallish funky Southern California track – officially it is a motorsports park – that is often used by car companies for events or for non-secure testing. The 2.5 mile road course provides an interesting combination of straightaways, elevation changes and corners with differing challenges. While many of the journalists on the drive have driven on much more difficult tracks, Willow Springs can provide loads of fun for the novice driver and the driver who wants to work on technique.


Willow Springs International Raceway

When confronted with a race track, many auto journalists begin to think of themselves as Parnelli Jones. Give them a helmet and and they think they have to race. Well, this group was very civilized. Didn’t seem that anybody wanted to set any lap records. No spin outs that I witnessed. And several hot laps in the RS4 – even wearing an XXL helmet – confirmed the competence of the car.
Audi RS4 Line Far Blog.jpg

Not running anywhere near ten tenths, the RS4 handled excellently, had great torque and horsepower to do just about anything with the car. Very tossable. Powering down the straights, the RS4 had a lot more to give. At 90mph, floor it and there is still more power on tap. Fun, entertaining, competent. Worst thing about the track time was that you couldn’t hear the great engine sound very well through the padding of the helmet.
Audi RS4 Pit Road Blog.jpg

If you ever have the opportunity to drive an RS4 – do not pass it up.

1 Comment

  • David Barrett| May 11, 2006 at 6:52 pm

    George –
    It’s true – and even more so. The Red RS4 I drove this week was really the most amazing sedan I’ve ever experienced – and I’ve owned SIX BMW M3s, and have experienced the NEW BMW M5 as well. While the M5 is a monster, it’s also big. Imagine cowboy boots with Nike soles – that’s an M5. The RS4 was more like sleek running shoes. The car’s not too big, it’s not too small – it doesn’t feel like any other. The motor burbles at slow speed and literally roars when you add lead to your right foot.
    From an enthusiasts point of view, I really like that this car is an evolution of everything we’ve seen or heard about to this point in time: The NAV is awesome compared to earlier generations. The Bluetooth integration is seamless. The carbon fiber treatment is real (even when used on the motor, which it is). And speaking of that – the motor is AWESOME to look at, much less to drive – and it’s got zero in common with the current S4 motor – it’s all new, from the block to the smallest component.
    I’ve never been a huge fan of Audi road manners, although I’ve always loved their style, interiors, and overall fit and finish. This car has won me over in a way that cannot be described in print… It may sound trite to read this, but it’s a true statement. The RS4 is a driver’s car that competes with a wide range of other enthusiast cars, in multiple categories.

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