The new Audi RS4 demonstrates that the attraction of stealth performance is still undiminished. Grey is the new white, the new silver, the new black. Car colour is important. Over the decades, Audi has demonstrated that it can divine the right hue for the era.

Given the sheer volume of performance cars the German marque manufacturers (in 2017 the company sold 1,878,100 cars, of which just over a third were ‘Q’ SUVs), it’s unsurprising that Audi sets trends in colour design – this was the company that ushered in a decade’s worth of silvery cars, after all.

The RS4 Avant joins the RS family tree, the top spot for a sporting Audi

The RS4 Avant joins the RS family tree, the top spot for a sporting Audi

The Audi RS4 Avant we had the pleasure of sampling was resplendent in Nardo Grey, a battleship-y hue that oozes purposeful menace. The colour flattens the already purposefully bare flanks, widened to accommodate big wheels, cooling ducts and aerodynamic enhancements. The RS (for RennSport, or ‘racing sport’) is the top of the tree designation for a sporting Audi, a nameplate first bolted on way back in 1994, when the company collaborated with Porsche on the RS2 Avant. That car was remarkable for a number of reasons, not least because it had in-gear acceleration that would out-perform a Formula 1 car, all wrapped up in a practical estate car body shape.

Ever since then, Audi’s RS models have been highly prized by enthusiasts, even if they haven’t always received such acclaim. It’s also the reason why estate car variants retain more cachet; there’s nothing like the frankly eccentric mix of pure performance and everyday ability to tick all the boxes. The previous generation RS4 had a V8, an engine that makes a very specific noise, so there were rumblings of discontent when the new car was revealed to have switched over to a twin turbo-charged V6.

Sufficient refinement makes everyday use a pleasure and not a chore

Of course, these fears are both groundless and the differences imperceptible to the vast majority of people, for this is still a relentlessly quick machine, and now a marginally more efficient one at that. The problem is that along with every other relentlessly fast motorcar on the market, it gets harder and harder to find the sweet spot between what this car is capable of doing and the legal and ethical opportunities to do it.

Suffice to say, the RS4 is massively enjoyable, with sufficient refinement to make everyday use a pleasure and not a grinding chore (as it can often be with overpowered supercars that feel like they’re being kept on a leash). That power delivery is best deployed for lightning-fast overtaking manoeuvers, and the handling is quicker than your fastest reactions. Some owners will seek out every opportunity to get this car on a track, as this is the only place where it can really stretch its legs. For others, however, it’s the knowledge that absolute power is available in such a convincing and capable package that will make the RS4 their supercar of choice.