BE WILLING TO WAGER fewer than one in 10 owners of the new Audi

RS4 ever discover all there is to know about theft new car. I think most will think they’ve bought a good-looking, faintly practical (It’s only available as an estate), high-performance family hold all. And they wouldn’t be wrong.

But sometimes certain cars hold something back, a side to theft character that, ft not coaxed into the open by exactly the right instructions and environment, will remain hidden forever. Emphatically the RS4 is one of these cars.

Most of the time it is as we have come to expect fast Audis to be a powerful, good-looking, well built but ultimately somewhat anodyne device. A machine more to admire than adore. For many that is all they want and to them I commend the car. But what t you want something extra? A car that squeezes your heart one that actually involves you in the process rather than leaving you on the sidelines? In the past you’d either have to buy

a mid-engine R8 for double the money and half the seats, or bang on Mercedes’ or BMW’s door instead.

No longer. At last a new philosophy seems to be creeping into Quoit° GmbH, the Audi-owned company that engineers all its RS and R branded cars. For a start this new RS4 is astonishingly quick. I don’t

know who was at the wheel the day they recorded the 4.7sec time for the 0-62mph but I fear he may have been half-asleep: the car feels far faster than that. It’s relentless too, with doubleclutch gearshiffs coming at you like machine gun fire. And it stirs the soul, once you’ve wrung the motor past 8000rpm, a pastime to which it appears completely addicted.

But the real news is that it also handles quite well. A Mercedes 063 AMG is still better balanced, but at least the Audi chassis now offers something other than undiluted understeer should you be a little over-ambitious with your entry speed. It can be neutralised in the dry and, when it’s wet, even coaxed into oversteer.

The RS4 is still neither the most capable nor the most charming car in its class. If it were anything like as entertaining at normal speeds as it is on the limit, it would be a transformation. As it is, a substantial step in the right direction will have to suffice for the moment.