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I was at a wedding last weekend when texts from some other Audi enthusiasts and a dealer started coming down checking in about the new Audi RS 4. Audi of America’s product planning department had just taken delivery of a German-market RS 4 and some top executives had taken the car out to a DC area Cars & Coffee. And then the internet blew up!
I promised those who texted that I’d run intel on what we know. What we’ve heard is similar than this, though there are a few nuanced elements we want to emphasize.
First, the Car.
This particular muscle wagen is an essentially loaded Daytona Grey example of the latest RS 4 – similar to the car shown above that we shot in Ingolstadt a few weeks back. As most Audi enthusiasts should already know, the car features the same high-rev 4.2 V8 as the Audi R8, mated to a 7-speed S-tronic dual clutch transmission… though all packaged in a blister-flared wagon body style. To Audi enthusiasts and most car buffs in general, it certainly tugs on more than a few heart strings.
The RS 4 spotted in Virginia belongs to Audi of America’s product planning department. One of their staff mentioned the car being on order during a chat at the Paris motor show. This team does bring in European models from time to time and for various reasons. Sometimes they are a harbinger of models to come like a red pre-facelift RS 5 was sighted on more than a few occasions around the DC suburbs where Audi is based. Others, like two A1s and an RS 6 utilized by Audi’s former president, haven’t had direct bearing on short-term future product like we’re all hoping the RS 4 becomes.
As with other previously German-spec cars imported by Audi of America, the car can reside in America for up to a year before it must be shipped back to Germany.
Second, Intel and Reality of the RS 4 Coming to the USA
We’re going to go ahead and stick to our previous intel on the RS 4 Avant all continuing discussions we have with Audi confirm it is still consistent with car’s status. That line suggested that the car is neither finalized for the USA nor is a decision impending, but that there is still a chance for the RS 4 to come over. Top executives at Audi of America love the car, want to bring it over… and some even promise to purchase one themselves. Still, there needs to be a solid case for it that centers around enough demand. Based on what we’ve heard, the chances as they are today for the car’s American approval are in fact better than they were when the car was first announced. However, this is by no means done deal.
Third, Making a Few Assumptions
We’re going to use what we know to make a prediction. The car is here, so it’s obviously being considered. In Paris, Audi of America President Scott Keogh suggested that the RS cars in America might make for an ongoing cycle of launches whereby a new one is regularly coming in, and the old one usually exiting as about two-years of sale is typical for these sorts of cars. Keogh also confirmed the RS 5 Cabriolet for North American launch in early 2013.
From this we can look at the calendar and make a few deductions. TT RS will be nearly done by the time RS 5 Cabriolet comes along and RS 5 coupe will be about half way done shortly after that.
What comes next? You have to assume RS 3 sedan and RS 7 (and maybe RS 6) are in the works, but the RS 4 could possibly slot in before them. If that’s the case then we’d guess the car would come no sooner than summer 2013 and no later than summer 2014 if it were going to happen.
Fourth, the Call to Action
A lot of the blogs reporting on this have been suggesting you join a Facebook petition to bring the car over. It should be clarified that this is not a petition set up by Audi as was the successful TT RS petition. Of course its growth is great, but this doesn’t mean that the car will definitely come. It is likely similar to a previous RS 3 petition run by fans that was unfortunately not successful and we’re concerned that the very excited fans of the RS 4 will mistake its presentation for a suggestion that the car has been approved or is close to that end. For instance, the RS 4 petition today surveys fans about preferred transmission choice… when there is no such manual transmission choice in the cards for the RS 4 anywhere in the world, much less America. Signing up and participating is great, but it should not be taken as indicative of impending action.
Interested in the RS 4 and want to be heard? Here are a few more actions we’d suggest in addition to those we’ve seen on other sites.
1. Determine if you’re serious about buying an RS 4. Do communicate that intent (methods below). If and when Audi comes looking for hand raisers, don’t send a note to Audi saying that you want one if you have no intent to buy such a car or if you don’t live in the USA. In the eventuality the car is approved and then doesn’t sell, then it makes it harder for future models like this to be approved.
2. Keep it Amongst Enthusiasts… for now. Since the RS 4 is not yet confirmed or in the confirmation stage, some internal contacts suggested that blowing up your dealer’s email or phone line won’t be terribly productive. Let your voice be heard in places like this and other discussion forums (we’ve set up a thread linked at the bottom), in the comments on stories like this one or on other websites, or on Facebook. We can’t speak for whomever is running the Facebook Petition, but at this point we’ve got no doubt it will also be watched. We’ve also got an Audi RS 4 fan page that we use for pushing RS 4 news, and that too is another good place to post your feelings or monitor the car’s status. We’re guessing posting on Audi’s own fan page would also be a good way to make your voice heard. If and when Audi asks for hand raisers, I’m certain that there will be a loud call on sites like this one or on Facebook. We’d ask and encourage interested parties to be ready to pounce.
3. Check out Photos. A full gallery of shots from Sunday’s Cars & Coffee was shot by a fan who was there on the ground. That gallery has been posted over at Quattroworld.