- We like...Power, adjustable ride
- We don't...Too understated, perhaps?
Super-quck Audi saloon may look business-suave. But, beneath its sober looks, a real firecracker lurksThis is a car for those who’ve grown up but are yet to grow old. While there’s a deep-lunged 3.0 turbocharged engine on hand here, putting its power through a clever all-wheel-drive package, the S4's appearance hides its abilities.
There’s little to see that clues you in to its ability. Four exhausts curling out back, broad wheels, tiny ‘S4’ badges and the subtlest of body kits are all you’ll spot so that, to all but those in the know, it’s no more or less than a regular Audi saloon. There are V6 badges topping either front wing but they are easy to miss. Even inside, you’ll perhaps not cotton on to how special this car is. There are S4 badges on the wheel and the instruments but the wheel and seats look no more or less than you’d find in a topline A4. It’s all sober, smart and beautifully crafted – but that’s true, too of every other current Audi.
Fire it up, though, and the early hints of what you’ve got filter through. Dip the clutch for the six-speed manual gearbox and you’ll sense an extra weight to pedal and shifter that you won’t find in lesser A4s. Ease on to the throttle and you’ll note a characteristic six-cylinder rasp – not loud, mind, but definitely there.
Moving off it remains docile if you are, meaning that it’s an obedient and relaxed companion if what you need most of it is to tootle through traffic. Find a clear road where the national limit applies and you’ll unleash a different car. Step-off is terrific: no matter you quickly you wish to move from stop or slow to go, it’ll respond, giving scarcely a chirp from the tyres. It just grips and gs very hard. In-gear thrust in second and third is particularly compelling – pinning you to the driver’s chair and bouncing off the rev limiter unless you’re quick with the upchanges.
It’s great fun on motorways, too, where its strong in-gear shove will take you out and past slower traffic with no more than a flex your right ankle. But it’ll not shake you up in the way that many another performance car will. A dash switch takes you between ‘comfort’, ‘dynamic’ and ‘individual’ (where you tailor the car’s ride, steering and throttle settings using the dash screen and menus.
‘Comfort’ is the softest of the three and while the steering remains direct and the ride tauts in this setting, there’s enough give in the dampers and springs to waft you the length of the M1 in comfort. ‘Dynamic’ is for when you’re going for it, and firms the car’s responses so you’ll sense the difference within an instant of switching. Even so, it’s easily bearable.
And, given the 328bhp on tap, fuel returns of 29mpg on a run and CO2 emissions of 219g/km for the manual are respectable.
Should you buy one? It’s a party star, up for fun, but wrapped in a sober business suit. And it’s practical as any other mid-size exec-class saloon. If that mix of talents suits to a T and you can meetits not inconsiderable asking price, it’ll be hard to pass up.
To view and buy new and second-hand Audi S4s, click on to motors.co.uk
- Engines3.0 V6 petrol
- 0-60 mph5.1secs
- Insurance groups36*
Motors.co.uk value verdict: