Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the NZ launch of the new Audi S4. A great event but it left me with the need to get more driving time. Anyway; I have just had my need fulfilled.
My previous experience was with the Avant and we all know that Audi make great Station wagon’s, however, this time I got my hands on the sedan. Evidence would suggest that sedans are currently out of favour in the motoring world but call me old fashioned, I still like them.
Sedans have an air of prestige about them, they’re practical to a point but are more about returning the driving experience to driver and passenger, and well and truly in favour of paved surfaces. Both long and short runs, sedans belong in the city or on the highway but the Audi S4 adds another dimension, it loves the twisting asphalt too.
As it turned out, I happened to be learning how to rally drive the weekend I had the S4 so it meant a couple of long runs to the ‘tron and back and bearing in mind the rally history of Audi it seemed quite fitting. As if to prove the point, I took some of the back roads to the Rally Drive HQ which game me plenty of time to experience the S4’s handling. The quattro system feels excellent on the tarmac and there is a real sense of security that comes with knowing that the system has been in existence for around forty years.
Click the driving mode to dynamic and pull the gear stick to sport and the S4 becomes a totally different animal from the luxurious and even sometimes sedate motorway cruiser. I felt at ease pushing the 4.74 metre car around the tight Waikato roads and enjoyed the roar of the V6 as I exited the corners (especially in Sport). The seats offered plenty of lumbar support (they are also adjustable; to suit my bigger frame) to hold you in place through rapid direction changes and the suspension adapted as quickly as the increased steering response. In fact, if it wasn’t for the tuneful growls from the 260kW/500Nm V6 reverberating throughout the experience, you’d be mistaken for believing you weren’t really pushing it at all.
The S4’s cabin is plush and very upmarket. Piano black with more than its fair share of brushed aluminium. It’s not overdone in the slightest. The Audi virtual cockpit is delivered in high resolution through it 12.3” LCD instrument cluster and infotainment comes via an 8.3” colour display screen and controlled via buttons on the flat bottomed leather wheel, voice, turning a dial in the centre console or by finger drawing on the same dial – the choice is yours. Plenty of legroom in the back, should you wish to be driven and ample boot space.
The exterior is a little understated and that seems to be the Audi way, you almost have to hunt out its ‘S’ness. Sharp roof edge lines, aluminium style wing mirror housings and four exhaust tips on the its double flow system. The 19” Alloys are distinctive and eye catching though.
After a long day of wrestling (both mentally and physically) with putting a vehicle on gravel, it was good to put my behind on fine nappa leather, switch on the massage seat (I set it to 3 and stretch), turn the radio dial to my favorite station (playing through the Bang and Olufsen system) and set the adaptive cruise control to lock onto the car in front. I felt more like a passenger than a driver as the S4 mimicked the vehicle ahead; slowing and even stopping when it did in the heavy traffic, constantly keeping the gap equidistant – I did feel compelled to let my foot hover over the brake pedal though, just in case.
The Audi S4 sedan is a very powerful force that equals the current RS in 0-100 times. However its looks and comfort modes will allow you to go about your daily business in relative anonymity. Its performance will make your heart race when required while its luxury, technology and refinement will keep you (and your passengers) highly impressed. It sounds so good that I may try and get my hands on the keys again.
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