More stories related to Geneva Motor Show GENEVA – Volkswagen AG’s upscale Audi brand moves ultra-high performance to the compact-car segment with the introduction of its RS 4 at the Geneva auto show this week.

Audi expects the new model to generate higher margins than its more pedestrian siblings, while raising the cachet of the brand in global markets.

“This is what our customers are asking for,” Martin Winterkorn, head of Audi AG tells Ward’s. “It is an exciting car for our customers, and it helps our brand image go up. It’s also very profitable.”

Utilizing the new A4 platform, the RS 4 is powered by a 4.2L V-8, which produces 420 hp at 7,800 rpm and 317 lb-ft. (430 Nm) of torque at 5,500 rpm.

Audi R S4

Audi powertrain engineers harnessed the auto maker’s acclaimed Fuel Straight Injection (FSI) technology also used in the ’05 A6 to boost power output via increased compression ratios in the naturally aspirated engine. (See related story: Audi FSI 3.2L DOHC V-6)

The compact design of the 4.2L enabled Audi engineers to shoehorn the mill under the hood of the equally compact A4 chassis. Engineers also modified the pistons and connecting rods used in the RS 4’s 4.2L, while an all-new crankshaft and cylinder head design boosted output.

Audi claims the RS 4 can accelerate from 0-62 mph (100 km/h) in just 4.8 seconds, with top speed limited to 155 mph (250 km/h).

Power from the 4.2L V-8 is channeled through a standard 6-speed manual transmission mated to Audi’s signature quattro all-wheel-drive system.

This version of quattro feeds 60% of the power to the rear wheels in normal driving conditions, while up to 100% of power can be transferred to one axle during inclement driving conditions. (See related story: Audi Launches New-Generation Quattro AWD)

The RS 4 exterior features Audi’s new single-frame grille design with honeycomb inserts. The front fascia includes unique lower air intakes to cool the brakes, while RS 4-specific 18-in. wheels with low profile tires add to the aggressive appearance. To add to the sporty stance, Audi engineers lowered the RS 4 by 1.2-ins. (3 cm).

The RS 4’s rear fascia is accentuated by a new air dam with an integrated spoiler added to the trunklid. Dual chrome tailpipes round out the special touches.

Inside, the RS 4 feature extensive use of leather, aluminum and carbon-fiber trim, with specially designed seats providing high side bolsters to keep the driver and front passenger firmly planted during aggressive driving maneuvers.

Audi also adds an engine start button on the center console of the RS 4. Aluminum pedals provide a racecar feel. A “sport” button on the steering wheel modifies the accelerator control mapping, providing sharper and more direct throttle response.

Audi also takes the opportunity to debut a new special edition TT quattro sport coupe model, which has undergone extensive engine and transmission modifications.

Engineers boosted the 1.8L turbo powerplant to 240 hp, while torque jumps to 236 lb.-ft. (320 Nm). The engine is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission adapted from the 3.2L TT model.

The TT quattro sport features a 2-tone finish, with the roof painted black and the body available in silver, red or blue contrasting colors. The same color scheme is repeated in the front bucket seatbacks. To help reduce weight, engineers eliminated the rear seat.

kekelly@primediabusiness.com