Audi RS4 Avant here in early 2013

The red-hot Audi RS4 Avant has broken cover ahead of its unveiling at next month’s Geneva motor show.
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The new model marks the third incarnation of the RS4, and sees the go-fast nameplate return to production after a four-year hiatus.

Like the initial version that was unleashed in 2000, the new RS4 is destined it be produced in Avant (wagon) form only, with the RS4 sedan likely to be overlooked for an RS5 Sportback.

Audi Australia's Shaun Cleary confirmed the RS4 Avant is scheduled to hit Australian showrooms in early 2013. It will be priced between the $119,900 S4 sedan and the $175,300 RS5 Coupe, and is likely to undercut the $154,800 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Estate.

The 2012 Audi RS4 Avant is powered by the same naturally aspirated 4.2-litre V8 engine as the RS5 Coupe, producing 331kW and 430Nm of torque. Power is up 22kW from the second-generation model (torque is unchanged), propelling the RS4 Avant from 0-100km/h in 4.7 seconds – two tenths quicker than before. The top speed is limited to 250km/h but can be increased to 280km/h upon request.

A seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission sends power to Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system. Audi says the car's combined cycle fuel consumption will be less than 11.0 litres per 100km.

The flagship sports wagon is 20mm lower than the A4 Avant. The 365mm front brake discs are paired to eight-piston callipers, finished in high-gloss black with RS badging.

The Audi drive select driving dynamics system incorporates three distinct vehicle set-ups - comfort, auto and dynamic - allowing the driver to vary the characteristics of the steering, transmission, throttle valve and the exhaust system.

The new RS4 Avant benefits from the usual understated styling enhancements, scoring aluminium grille, front splitter, mirror caps, roof racks and diffuser surround; aggressive front air intakes and headlights; pumped out wheel arches; and 19-inch grey alloy wheels.

The interior is fitted with side-hugging leather sports seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and finished with piano black panels and carbon fibre inserts. Aluminium is used across the pedals, air vents, steering wheel shift paddles and other controls, giving the RS4 a unique sporting character.