Audi S4

Damien O’car­roll reck­ons the S is for siz­zling and sexy.

New Zealand Company Vehicle - - CONTENTS -

Audi has al­ways been dom­i­nant in the ex­ec­u­tive wagon field lo­cally, and the mar­ket’s shift to­wards SUVS has ac­tu­ally done lit­tle to change that. It seems that wagon buy­ers aren’t re­ally in­ter­ested in tall ones. And Audi, like fel­low Ger­man man­u­fac­tur­ers BMW and Mercedes-benz, has al­ways punched well above its weight in lo­cal sales of per­for­mance mod­els, with all three firmly at the pointy end of the re­spec­tive seg­ments in terms of pop­u­la­tion and sales vol­ume per­cent­ages. So to say that the Audi S4 has been a suc­cess­ful model for Audi in New Zealand would be some­thing of an un­der­state­ment - more than 1,400 S4s (and the re­lated S5 coupe, cabrio and Sport­back mod­els) have been sold lo­cally since 2002. Like any Audi that starts with an “S”, the S4 isn’t ex­actly en­try level and comes ful­ly­loaded with good­ies, so the sedan ver­sion starts the range at $116,400, while the ev­er­pop­u­lar Avant (wagon in non-audi-speak) ver­sion you see here lands at $119,900. Audi do wag­ons very well in­deed and the S4 is a par­tic­u­larly good ex­am­ple of that. The ag­gres­sive head­lights and bel­liger­ent in­takes are awe­some, while ether fan­tas­tic cas­cad­ing LED in­di­ca­tors are even more awe­some. On the in­side the S4 Avant boasts a bril­liantly mod­ern and stylish in­te­rior that is beau­ti­fully put to­gether out of some se­ri­ously high qual­ity ma­te­ri­als. The S sports seats look su­per sexy and are im­pres­sively com­fort­able. Like all cur­rent Audis, how­ever, the in­te­gra­tion of the phone pro­jec­tion (in the form of Ap­ple Carplay) is clumsy and un­in­tu­itive. The all-new 3.0-litre petrol V6 turbo pro­duces 260kw of power and 500Nm of torque (up 15kw and 60Nm over the old car) and is hooked up to an eight-speed trans­mis­sion driv­ing all four wheels via Audi’s qu­at­tro AWD sys­tem. The V6 is su­perbly smooth and ridicu­lously pow­er­ful and there is sim­ply power and torque ev­ery­where. While the sound out­side the car is an an­gry bark over­laid with turbo whis­tles and chirps, with the oc­ca­sional vol­ley of muted bangs and pops from the exhaust, in­side the the cabin it is an oddly flat and some­what char­ac­ter­less sound. Which is a mas­sive shame. On the road the bel­liger­ently fast pace is matched by seem­ingly end­less amounts of grip and trac­tion and the S4 Avant belts out of cor­ners at a ridicu­lous rate. Un­for­tu­nately, like so many fast Audi’s the S4 Avant’s steer­ing is dis­tant and un­com­mu­nica­tive, mean­ing that while it has huge amounts of abil­ity, there is no real per­son­al­ity or emo­tion. The Audi S4 Avant is a sim­ply amaz­ing tech­ni­cal achieve­ment. It is bru­tally fast, ridicu­lously ca­pa­ble and ar­ro­gantly com­posed at all times, re­gard­less of the road, driver or weather. De­spite its clin­i­cal re­mote­ness, as a high­per­for­mance lux­ury sedan, the S4 is a hard pack­age to go past. It is a stun­ningly well made car with a pow­er­ful, re­fined en­gine and ex­cep­tional han­dling.

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