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S4 SPEED & SENSIBILITY (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
The fifth generation Audi A4 offers potent performance in S4 guise - and decent practicality with the Avant body style. This is an estate that doesn't shout about its speed, despite it being faster than ever in TDI diesel form. Jonathan Crouch reports.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 57
The Audi S4 Avant moves to diesel power - and very potent diesel power at that. The 3.0-litre V6 TDI diesel puts out 347PS and a thumping 700Nm of pulling power, making it certain that in real world terms, it'll be quicker from point to point than the previous petrol model. There's life in diesel power yet.
Backgroundword count: 161
The S4 Avant has been a fixture in Audi's range since 1991 and has largely followed the same formula. Sure, engine-wise, it might have been offered with (in order of appearance) a turbocharged in-line five, a V8, a twin turbo V6, another V8 and a supercharged V6, but all have been mounted up front with power sent to all four wheels. All have also been available in saloon and estate body styles too. The big change here is the switch to diesel power. We'll get to that. The other main thing that all previous S4 Avant models have shared is discreetness. Unlike some rivals, this Audi has never shouted about the level of performance it offers. There might be extra exhaust pipes, subtle badging and some attractive alloy wheels but Ingolstadt has always avoided bulging arches, vents and in your face body kits. And so we come to this current S4 TDI model. How does it stack up to its predecessors?
Driving Experienceword count: 268
Where once the S4 Avant was powered by a normally aspirated 4.2-litre V8, then a turbo 3.0-litre V6, these days, it's pulled along by a mild hybrid 3.0-litre TDI diesel unit that produces 347PS and 700Nm of pulling power, good enough to get this car from rest to 62mph in just 4.8s, which is only a tenth slower than the previous 3.0-litre TFSI V6 petrol unit could manage. Top speed, as before, is artificially pegged at 155mph. The engine utilises a large turbo, which is partly driven by a little electric compressor, as well as exhaust gases. Audi claims that this set-up minimises the effects of turbo lag, with the system being automatically activated whenever the requested engine load exceeds the capabilities of the turbocharger. To go with this change of engine, Audi has upgraded this car in a number of other areas, adding in Progressive steering, refining the sports suspension and incorporating a revised chassis platform, which controls the car's quattro 4WD system. The transmission remains an 8-speed Tiptronic auto unit, but this set-up's impressively quick-reacting and smooth. Not so good is the lowered 'S' Sports suspension, which will be rather over-firm for some, though you can improve it by paying extra for a 'CDC' 'Continuous Damper Control' system that can be tweaked via the settings of the standard 'drive select' driving dynamics system. As well as also altering steering weight, throttle response and stability control thresholds, the 'drive select' modes can also influence the optional 'Quattro Sport differential' system, which constantly varies the amount of drive to each of the rear wheels for extra cornering traction.
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Category: Sporting Cars
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