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Audi's Euro Prowler

When it comes to first-class performers in the sportscar world, there are two types of approaches: in-your-face pizzazz, courtesy of flashy rear wings and air scoops; and subtle and under-the-radar, with killer chops tucked beneath the hood. Audi has always been among the latter, with designs that proclaim power and respect with provocative whispers. With the American release—finally!—of the RS 4, which has long prowled the autobahn, we get the most powerful version yet of the A4 sedan. No surprise, it's all about the engine, a direct-injection version of the 4.2-liter V-8 that's been tinkered with and now redlines at a ridiculous 8,250 r.p.m. Meaning it'll easily frolic with Porsches on twisties or snap at Corvettes on straights, and it still has room for your entire foursome and its bags. Even better, unlike most unruly horsepower monsters, the RS 4 manages all that muscle with all-wheel drive. Audi's standout Quattro system distributes power 40/60 front-to-rear, lending the sportscar feel of rear-wheel drive. The RS 4 features a six-speed manual transmission and rides on nineteen-inch wheels. The newest version has larger wheel wells and a redesigned front fascia—just enough hints to give the braggadocio bullies ample warning that the quiet kid in the back of the room has some martial-arts tricks up his sleeve.

Scorecard: Audi RS 4

Base Price: $70,000 (est.)
Engine: 4.2-liter direct-injection V-8
Horsepower: 420
Torque: 317 pound-feet
Weight: 3,630 pounds
Zero to 60 MPH: 4.8 seconds

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