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It’s no secret that Audi AG planned to build an Avant version of the RS 4. The sedan bowed almost a year ago at the March 2004 Geneva Auto Show, but other than a leaked Minichamps 1:43 scale model for sale a few months back on Ebay’s Chinese site, there’s been no mention of the RS 4 Avant.
This morning, a German RS-car enthusiast hit the jackpot while in traffic in the German town of Chemnitz. A red RS 4 Avant appeared in traffic. Fortunately for those other RS-fanatics who will have to live vicariously through him, he had his camera and was able to snap off a few shots of it before it disappeared.
Without the photos, this would have just been a good pub story to share over a beer. With the photos, many Audiphiles will get an early holiday gift with their first view of an honest-to-goodness RS 4 Avant.
The Avant is not expected to differ greatly from the sedan from what we’ve heard, no more than an S4 Avant differs from an S4. The RS 4 wagon will get similar widened fenders at the rear to bestow it with a menacingly wide stance from behind.
Don’t expect to see the RS 4 Avant make it to American shores. Yes, Audi enthusiasts at Audi of America’s headquarters in Auburn Hills would love to bring it over, but since sedans outsell Avants at more than 10:1 in the Audi range, bringing both cars just doesn’t make good business sense.
Further, there are packaging issues at play. Audi engineers moved the RS 4’s battery to the rear to help with weight distribution. That works fine for America in the case of the sedan with its enclosed trunk, though U.S. and Canadian regulations make it impossible to sell an Avant in this configuration due to its trunk open to the cabin. Amongst other engineering issues, relocating the battery to the trunk and all wiring changes involved are a rather difficult mountain to climb for the car to be considered for America. In regards to the Avant coming over, n say never, but it is unlikely.
Even if the car doesn’t come to the USA or Canada, that doesn’t mean those with really fat wallets couldn’t get one. Due to structural similarities and EPA certification of the RS 4’s engine for the sedan’s sale here, NHTSA requirements for importation shouldn’t be that difficult to hit. The previous generation RS 4 Avant (B5) and RS 6 Avant (C5) are both on NHTSA’s list of importable vehicles. Surmounting differences such as the battery placement shouldn’t be that difficult, albeit not cheap, for a qualified importation company who can petition for vehicle inclusion on the NHTSA list.
Audi has made no comment on when we might see the car, though this one looks production-ready. The next big European auto show is Geneva in March, which is the most likely scenario at this point – following one year after the sedan.
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