Audi S4 2016 review
John Carey road tests and reviews the new Audi S4 with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its international launch.
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Contrary to popular belief, station wagons didn't die off because they were bad. Nope, they were pushed to the brink of extinction by the fact they'd become terminally uncool.
You've read before - on this very site, no less - about the slow demise of the once-mighty wagon. You remember them, of course, those big-bummed cars you used to see whisking families down the freeway toward summer-holiday bliss.
But those days are long gone, and with an SUV on offer to suit every size and budget, they're unlikely to ever come back. And that's at least partly because (unless your father's name is Enzo) nobody aspires to own the car their parents used to drop them off to school in. Image is everything, and the humble wagon's image was that of practical parents.
But that doesn't mean you, dear reader, shouldn't be paying attention to this. Because we'll let you in on a little secret: station wagons often make more sense than SUVs on just about every conceivable level: Dynamics? Better. Practicality? Better. Economy? Generally speaking, better.
|Audi S4 2017: 3.0 TFSI Quattro Avant|
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Full disclosure: we have a soft spot for a sexy wagon, and Audi's S4 Avant is a particularly handsome example.
With its front wheel mounted centimetres from the edge of the bonnet, and with the rear wheels pushed well back into the the "wagon" part of the body, the S4 looks perfectly proportioned. Better yet, our test car's red brake calipers that peeked out from behind the spokes of its big 19-inch alloys hinted seductively at its performance potential.
The country's best-selling mid-size SUV, for example, will offer a maximum 1,342 litres, so the Avant's got it beat in the load-lugging business.
Front-on, the single-frame grille is wider across the middle, dominating the front end and soaking up almost all of the available real estate. The two upside down ticks that form the daytime running lights look fantastic, too, and form a base from which the bonnet's bulges climb. The rear view is the only slight disappointment, with only the quad exhaust tips breaking up a fairly boring and typical wagon-like view.
Inside, expect a beautifully crafted interior, headlined by a flat-bottomed steering wheel that is perfectly sized and feels terrific under your hands. Our test car was fitted with a slightly garish deep red leather trim, including a raised diamond pattern on each of the seats, that felt a touch overdone (part of a $5,900 package that includes the red calipers), but it's a predictably well put together cabin.
Practicality is the trump card of any good wagon - even those as fast as Audi's S4 - and the Avant's got your weekly Bunnings/Ikea/Snitch body disposal duties covered.
For a start, that jumbo boot holds 505 litres VDA with all seats in place, with that number growing to 1,510 litres VDA when you drop the rear seats. That's quite a lot of room. The country's best-selling mid-size SUV, for example, will offer a maximum 1,342 litres, so the Avant's got it beat in the load-lugging business.
Elsewhere, expect a powered boot to help you get things in and out, and a generally spacious interior no matter where you're sitting. The total cupholder count sits at four, with room in the doors for bottles. The ISOFIX attachment points total two, one in each window seat in the back.
The sleek S4 Avant wears a $3k premium over its sedan sibling, arriving with a sticker price of $102,900. A considerable spend, sure, but then this is a considerable station wagon.
It's a peach, this engine, a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 that produces 260kW at 5,400rpm and a Bahn-storming 500Nm from a low 1,370rpm.
Expect 19-inch alloy wheels, tri-zone climate control and a luscious leather-and-Alcantara interior with heated front seats. Audi's much-lauded Virtual Cockpit is also standard fare (a digital control centre that takes the place of the traditional dials in the driver's binnacle), and a 10-speaker stereo controlled through an Apple Car Play/Android Auto-equipped 8.3-inch screen mounted above the centre of the dash.
Proximity unlocking and push-button start also appear on the standard features list, along with adaptive dampers, auto headlights, a powered boot and ambient interior lighting. Expect an impressive standard safety list, too, but we'll come back to that under the Safety sub-heading.
It's a peach, this engine, a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 that produces 260kW at 5,400rpm and a Bahn-storming 500Nm from a low 1,370rpm. That power is channeled through an eight-speed automatic gearbox and fired to all four wheels.
Key stats include a claimed 100km/h sprint of 4.7 seconds and electronically limited top speed of 250km/h.
As always in cars that whisper of performance, your fuel use will be intrinsically linked with how much you can hold back from stomping on the accelerator. Drive sedately, and you might get near the claimed/combined fuel figure of 7.8 litres per hundred kilometres (slightly more than you'll use in the sedan), with CO2 emissions pegged at 178g per kilometre.
Effortless. There's been something of a performance onslaught from the team at Audi lately, with the S3 and S5 also recently updated, and some madhouse RS products soon to launch, and without exception the rich and smooth power delivery from under the bonnet has proved outstanding.
The good news, then, is the A4 Avant continues the hot streak. It's the kind of turbocharged six-cylinder that makes you forget naturally aspirated V8s were ever the pinnacle of performance, and the smooth and constant surge of power that arrives with every prod of the accelerator is massively entertaining.
The S4 Avant can happily switch from comfortable family cruiser to back-road bruiser, too, compliments of its adaptive suspension set up that pairs with Audi's Drive Select system, allowing you to dial in steering weight, throttle sensitivity and gearing aggression, while pouring stiffness into the suspension.
Something that can happily swallow all the sporting kit, grocery bags and assorted knick knacks of your average family has no right to be quite this much fun.
In the more comfortable settings, the S4 Avant offers the quiet and composed conveyance demanded of this segment, and the tech and safety offering in the cabin is fantastic.
Road noise is virtually non-existent from the driver's seat, allowing the deep bass of the exhaust to permeate the cabin without compromise, and the eight-speed automatic is a quick-thinking and smooth unit, too.
In short, we like it. A lot. And something that can happily swallow all the sporting kit, grocery bags and assorted knick knacks of your average family has no right to be quite this much fun.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
The S4 Avant arrives with eight airbags (dual front, dual side, dual rear sides and curtain airbags), along with a 360-degree parking camera, parking sensors at the front and rear and the usual suite of traction and braking aids.
Commendably, AEB with pedestrians detection also arrives as standard, as does blind-spot monitoring and Audi's pre-sense system that prepares for front- or rear-end collisions by flashing the hazard lights and sounding a warning alarm to alert passengers. Adaptive cruise control is also standard, along with cross-traffic alert and lane keep assist.
The A4 range, including the S4, was awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating when tested in 2016.
The S4 Avant is covered by a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, and like all Audis it requires servicing every 12 months or 15,000kms.
While capped-price servicing isn't available, Audi's Genuine Care Service Plan means you can prepay your maintenance costs for the first three years for $1,620.
The death of the station wagon is all-but assured in Australia, but cars like the S4 Avant will at least delay the inevitable. It's fast, practical and undeniably stylish, and you can't just take it to 100km/h in less than five seconds, you can take it to Bunnings, too.
|3.0 TFSI Quattro||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$76,450 – 87,890||2017 AUDI S4 2017 3.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs|
|3.0 TFSI QUATTRO TIPTRONIC||3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$72,490 – 83,380||2017 AUDI S4 2017 3.0 TFSI QUATTRO TIPTRONIC Pricing and Specs|
|3.0 TFSI Quattro Avant||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$78,980 – 90,750||2017 AUDI S4 2017 3.0 TFSI Quattro Avant Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||8|