First drive: Audi S4 Avant

* Faster and more economical * Ride is firm, not harsh * It's mean and green-ish...

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What Car? Staff
03 November 2008

First drive: Audi S4 Avant

These days it seems like were all in a rush to be green, but with the new S4 Audi has come with a way for you to get a rush and be green. Well, almost.

Audi has ditched the fuel-sucking, CO2-blowing V8 engine for the hot new saloon and Avant, and replaced it with a supercharged 3.0-litre TFSI V6. Power falls by 11bhp, yet the new car is faster than the old from 0-60mph, uses 37% less fuel and emits 30% less CO2.

The S4 comes with four-wheel-drive as standard, but you can upgrade the cars handling, for roughly 1800, by adding a new sport differential and dynamic steering option. The first shuffles power between the front and rear axles, and between the rear wheels, to maximise traction, while the second varies the steering ratio and feel depending on driving conditions, and the cars speed.

Firm but not too harsh

As youd expect, acceleration is impressive yet the S4 doesnt feel frenetic, and although the ride is firm its not harsh. Poor road surfaces are felt, but they dont become intrusive. The handling is sharp, and the steering well weighted, with fantastic stability through fast bends. The enhanced four-wheel-drive system comes into its own on slippery surfaces, where it gives you a supreme sense of control.

A slick six-speed-manual gearbox is standard, but for roughly 1500 you can opt for a seven-speed S tronic semi-automatic gearbox. This is smooth and quick to change gears, yet is so efficient that it gives the car slightly better fuel economy than the manual model.

Visually, the saloon and Avant are similar to the standard models, but both get distinctive 18-inch alloys, xenon headlights, electronically adjustable sports seats, and a host of other tweaks to make them stand out. MS

Mean, and little bit green.

Audi S4 Saloon/Avant
Price £36,000 (est)
On Sale April
You'll like Pace and handling
You won't Limited availability