An icon amongst its classmates, the new Audi RS4 Avant is outstanding in all key areas, and its heritage can be traced back to the Avant RS2 of 1993.

The newcomer is powered by a new 2.9 bi-turbo V6 TFSI engine with a soul satisfying 450PS on tap, enough to sprint from rest to 62mph (100kph) in 4.1 seconds, outgunning the Mercedes- Benz AMG C63 Estate by 0.1s and a mere 0.1s slower than the BMW M3 competition package. Top speed can be as high as 174mph (280kph)and despite this cocktail of performance, 32mpg (8.8l/km). is possible. The newcomer is some 80kg lighter than the previous version, thus not only aiding economy but also performance and handling.

Allied to the impressive engine, an eight speed tiptronic transmission and with the renowned Audi Quattro AWD, superb handling is at the command of the right foot. My opportunity to get behind the wheel of the RS4 Avant came within earshot of Rockingham Speedway, but alas the gates were locked so no track work on this occasion!

The standard specification includes a sport differential, Audi Visual Cockpit with RS specific displays, MMI Navigation Plus, Audi connect infotainment services and massaging RS Super aspirations seats. There is a Carbon Edition which is even more racy with CFRP detailing, chunky twenty inch alloys, privacy glass, RS sport exhaust and RS matrix LED headlights. Of course there is a premium to pay, the standard model costs from £62,175 (€ 70,076) N.I. while the Carbon Edition costs from £72,175 (€81,347) N.I.  In the R.O.I. the RS4 Avant starts from €101,500.

What impressed me most about this new member of the Avant family was the harmony of performance and handling with a ride that I did not expect. I was surprised to discover that even over rough roads, the ride was in no manner harsh, yet the grip was outstanding.

As the miles rolled past, I felt more and more confident pushing the RS4 Avant faster and faster, it just glided through the twists and turns and stopping power was the equal of the performance which I had control of via my right foot.

This member of the Audi family is certainly not for the faint hearted, it does demand a helping of respect, reward it in that fashion and the rewards come flowing back. This is my kind of wheels. The all wheel drive is permanent and the sound from the RS sport exhaust system is music to the ears of anyone who enjoys his or her motoring with a capital E.

There is a Dynamic Ride Control available part of the RS sport plus option and it has three settings, Comfort, Auto and Dynamic, these are adjustable via the Audi drive select system. Further options include, ceramic brakes and RS specific dynamic steering, also specified for both the standard and Carbon Edition models.

Apart from the sheer power delivered this Audi comes with a host of creature comforts and I give full marks on the cabin, very driver focused. The 8.3 inch high resolution screen displays detailed navigation mapping, audio listings and of course web based information via the MMI Navigation Plus and Audi Connect Infotainment module.

With such a performance offering comes an array of safety features designed to keep all occupants secure as the miles hurtle by.

I must not forget the Avant in reality is a sports estate, so everyday trappings cam be transported, making this a vehicle that many will aspire to own.   A few notes on Audi, currently there are fifty three models and a further twenty one will be added before the end of 2019.

Coming along later this year, the new Q8 quattro and a full battery e-tron. Exciting times ahead for one of Germany’s top premium brands.