Thankfully, it managed to convince enthusiasts and it remains one of the most iconic performance wagons Audi has ever made.
The B5 RS4 Avant packed a Cosworth-developed twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 that made 381 PS (376 hp) at 7,000 rpm and 440 Nm (325 lb-ft) at 6,000 rpm. Mated to a six-speed manual transmission and a Torsen-based quattro system with a standard 50:50 bias, it enabled the RS4 to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 4.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 262 km/h (163 mph).
Those are sensational numbers even today, let alone in 1999 when the original RS4 Avant came out. Audi only built a little over 6,000 units between 1999 and 2001, but compared to the E46-based BMW M3 CSL, the RS4 is much more common.
BMW made just 1,383 M3 CSLs in 2003, turning the lightweight coupe into an instant classic. It’s one of the most desirable Bimmers ever made, thanks to the obsessive approach to weight saving and the performance and driving purity that it offered.
About 110 kg (243 lb) lighter than the regular E46 M3 Coupe, the CSL featured a 3.2-liter naturally-aspirated inline-six making 360 PS (355 hp) at 7,900 rpm and 370 Nm (273 lb-ft) at 4,900 rpm. Fitted with a six-speed automated manual transmission (SMG II) that sent power to the rear wheels, the M3 CSL was able to cover the 0 to 100 km/h sprint in 4.9 seconds and reach 280 km/h (174 mph) with the electronic speed limiter deactivated.
On paper, the 0-100 km/h acceleration is identical with that of the RS4, which is why the folks from Carwow decided to put them side by side in a good old drag race. Will the Audi’s added traction give it an advantage over the rear-wheel drive BMW? Watch the video to find out — it also includes a rolling race and some track driving.