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