A swap to a turbocharged V6 makes the Audi S4 a suitable performance flagship – at least until the RS4 arrives.
ONE point Dean Sheed wants to reinforce about the new-generation S4, just unveiled in Germany in Avant form and set for release here around July-August: It’s no wuss.
Indeed, the brand’s New Zealand’s boss points out that a model that will fly the Audi performance flag for at least a year is well-suited to the task, given this now turbocharged (previously supercharged) 3.0-litre V6 can clock 0-100kmh in 4.9 seconds in Avant form, dropping to 4.7s for the sedan.
The relevance? Check out the performance data attached to the now old-generation RS4 that is now leaving the showroom. The S4 is just as quick and, while the new RS4 that is undoubtedly already under development is very likely to be faster still … well, for a while, at least the S4 will hold the spotlight as the fastest A4 you can buy.
“It’s a powerhouse,” assures Sheed, who further believes the new model - announced in the same week chosen by Audi NZ to unveil the domestic market mainstream A4 – is good enough to accomplish a greater slice of type sales that its predecessor, around 20 percent.
Although S4 does tend to suffer from being seen as a understudy the full-blown RS greatness, Sheed says the variant has always been a valued member of the family and the latest should not be underestimated.
“S4 has a strong history in New Zealand and (it has) established the Audi quattro fast wagon image for both family and personal use.”
This one is an “outstanding all-round performer.”
The Auckland-domiciled brand is now working on final local specification and price.
As Motoring Network has already explained, Sheed sees the Avant shape becoming the dominant preference in the mainstream A4 family. He’s making the same call for the S4 wagon, the derivative that won the limelight with the international reveal (understandably, as the S4 sedan was effectively shown off at last year’s Frankfurt motor show).
The wagon’s new mechanicals mirror those of the sedan. Outputs are 3260kW and 500Nm are pretty stupendous – the RS4’s V8 makes 331kW and 430Nm, remember.
In place of the previous seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, an eight-speed torque-converter unit now handles the shifting.
One trick with the new box is improved economy - it enables freewheeling when the driver lifts off the throttle at speeds between 80 and 160kmh.
The standard all-wheel-drive system is rear-biased (60 percent), and an optional sport differential can apportion torque across the rear axle. Ride height is nearly 3cm lower than the standard A4, and continuous damping control is optional.
Brake discs of 13.8 inches are vented and perforated up front, and they’re squeezed by S-logo calipers painted either red or black. Speed-dependent, variable-ratio “dynamic steering” is optional. The standard wheels are 18 inches while 19s are optional.
The interior features sport seats, diamond-pattern leather and microsuede in black, gray, or red, and brushed-aluminum trim. The exterior is set off with a black honeycomb grille, restyled front and rear fascias, gray and aluminum-look trim.
Audi says the S4 Avant, at 1675kg, is 50kg heavier than the sedan but it’s also 75kg lighter than its predecessor.
The technical aspect reminds that cars aren’t just about being cars any more: They’re also extensions of your personal electronic devices.
The S4’s MMI infotainment system integrates the Audi connect hardware component, which connects to the internet. Passengers can use their mobile devices to surf the web, text or mail thanks to the integrated Wi-Fi hotspot, Audi says. The driver meanwhile has access to the multifaceted online services offered by Audi Connect.
This can be tailored to allow the driver to lock and unlock the car doors, operate the optional auxiliary heater or find the car’s parking location.
Another optional feature in Europe is Audi Phonebox. This connects smartphones to the on‑board antenna by near-field coupling and simultaneously charges them inductively but also brings Apple Car Play and Android Auto into the car. A core content here is online music with access to Google Play Music and iTunes. There are also navigation and notification functions as well as schedule reminders. In the future, the range of functions will be continually extended via third party apps like Pandora, Spotify and WhatsApp.