AUDI’S ALL-NEW S4 is the pinnacle of the A4 range and not only is it lighter, faster, and more technically advanced, it’s also six-grand cheaper with twelve grand of extra kit.
Available as a four-door sedan or five door wagon (Avant in Audi-speak) the fun starts at just $99,900 for the sedan and $102,900 for the Avant that we assessed.
Behind the four-rings on the grille lurks an all-new 3.0 litre, twin-scroll turbocharged V6 co-developed with Porsche.
The turbo sits in the vee of the engine to eliminate lag and smashes out an attention getting 260kW/500Nm (up by 15kW/60Nm over its predecessor). Coupled to an eight-speed tiptronic auto, its mechanical centre diff feeds the quattro all-wheel drive system. By the time you hit triple figures just 4.9 seconds have vanished and the electronic fun-ender kicks in at 250km/h.
Not that you’d know that by looking at it. Unlike others, it doesn’t feel the need to be shouty and attention seeking. Its inconspicuous looks perfectly mask its sledge-hammer performance.
This greyhound of the A4 pack sits 23 mm lower on 19-inch alloys on 245/35 hoops and wears a minimalist body kit of a small boot-lip spoiler, side skirts, rear sports bumper and a single-frame black honeycomb grille with 3D look adaptive headlights. The real giveaway is the four exhaust outlets that will be noticed by the keen-eyed observer.
Audi reckons the S4 has the most advanced infotainment and safety systems in the segment and includes the spectacular LCD customisable Audi virtual cockpit, together with Multi-Media Interface navigation.
Inside the flawlessly crafted interior, you get a decent amount of leg, head and luggage room with body-hugging Alcantara and Nappa-Leather front sports pews. Its sporty tone sees it donning aluminium and carbon-look trimmings, tri-zone air con and a perfectlysized, D-shape, leather covered, multi-function steering wheel with paddle shifts and stainless steel pedals.
Safety wise Audi has chucked the entire catalogue into the S4 which comes with self-parking, adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, exit assist – to
warn of approaching cyclists or pedestrians, blind spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, cross-traffic alert through the reversing camera, autonomous emergency braking (up to 85km/h), turn assist, collision avoidance and 360 degree surround-view cameras.
Simply put, these facts and figures translate to Fast with a capital F and engaging with a capital E.
The S4’s driver-changeable drive modes vary the aggression of the steering, suspension, gearshifts and power delivery and work in cahoots with the traction control to have you pointing in the right direction and let you fully exploit its sublime on-road talents.
Scrambling out of switchbacks or scything through sweepers, the S4’s five-link suspension ensures it sticks to the road like paint with a reassuring rock-solid feel, the fluid steering allowing pinpoint accuracy and the brakes having an eye-ball popping progressive feel. When pressing on, the quattro system channels up to 85 per cent of its power to the rear wheels, while cruising sees it default to a 40/60 front-rear split.
The Porsche co-developed, twin-scroll V6 turbo barks deeper and louder the more you tickle the throttle to the 6,500rpm redline. It’s one of those intoxicating sounds that just makes you nail the loud pedal time and time again and sounds even better in tunnels.
Downshifts are met with a volley of pops and backfires on the over run, so that got a good workout too.
Gearchanges through the eight-speed tiptronic box are imperceptible unless you engage launch control. Then it gets all feisty; shoving you back in the seat as it thumps from cog to cog, the speedo whizzing to three figures in a blink of an eye and the horizon quickly filling the screen.
The more seat time I had with the Audi S4, the more I fell for its considerable charms. It engages and rewards the driver like few others.
This latest version isn’t just the pinnacle of the current A4 range, it is also the crowning glory of the S4 badge, which was introduced by Audi back in 1993.
An original S4 would have set you back $132,890 in 1993 and even the successor to this latest S4 would have emptied your wallet to the tune of $118,900. So at under one hundred grand for the sedan and a smidge more for the Avant, we reckon the all-new S4 is the most tempting and most complete yet.
ENGINE: 2995cc direct-injection Turbocharged DOHC V6.
MAX POWER: 260kW @ 5400-6400 rpm MAX TORQUE: 500Nm@ 1370-4500 rpm TRANSMISSION: 8-speed tiptronic auto WEIGHT: 1675 kg 0-100KM/H: 4.9 seconds TOP SPEED: 250 km/h PRICE: From $102,900