For the last decade or so, I have been absolutely baffled by the cars that Audi chooses not to bring to North America. For years, we didn’t get the A5 Sportback, which is finally making its way over here. There’s no A3 hatchback, unless you want an electric one, and there’s no RS 6 — and there hasn’t been, ever, save for one single model year 15 years ago, and one tremendously short production run. There’s no A6 wagon; the only A4 wagon is the SUV-ified "Allroad"; and the Q2 crossover is even held back. From America! The craziest crossover market there is!
But the car that baffles me most is the RS 4. For those of you who don’t know, the RS 4, as it’s sold in Europe, has a 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V6 that makes 450 horsepower. It’s available in sedan or wagon form, and it’s always a treat to see one, with its subtle flared fenders and cool look. In foreign markets, it’s a direct rival to the BMW M3 and the Mercedes-Benz AMG C63, the latter of which is also offered as a sedan or wagon elsewhere in the world.
But here’s my question: Why doesn’t it come here? Every time I go to a BMW or Mercedes-Benz dealer, they tell me that M and AMG models are hot sellers that bring big money, as opposed to "regular" models which require more incentives to get them out the door. Obviously, AMG and M cars also increase brand value due to their perceived "coolness" — how many people have bought a 330i because they couldn’t quite afford an M3, for instance? It’s so clear that these cars are good for dealers, good for the brand and good for business.
And yet, Audi has resisted the RS 4. The sole RS 4 we got came in the mid-2000s; it was offered for three years before going away, never to return. Maybe it wasn’t that popular then, but the market has shifted, and there’s a lot of demand for these cars now. So why won’t Audi bring it out? I’ve never understood it, and I never will, but in a world where we now have an RS 7, an RS 3 and an RS 5 Sportback, maybe Audi is coming to its senses, and we’ll finally get that RS 4.