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Audi S4 impressions
I don't think anyone on the net has yet posted any driving experience with
the new Audi S4, since dealers have been either sold out or unwilling to
let it out for a drive (hi Eliot!). As it turns out, though, our local
dealer, Crosby VW, has one in stock, and they actually *offered* it to me
for a test drive, fully well knowing that I wasn't buying one (I'm still on
a VW budget...)
This was a silver S4, with a gray leather interior. It was wearing Goodyear
Invicta GS tires in the 215/60R15 V size -- the rest of the equipment was,
I believe, the same as all S4s. 589 km (366 miles) on the clock.
As I started the engine up, my wife commented on its quietness at idle; that
turbo sure muffles the traditional Audi five. The sports seats were snug
(although I'd prefer cloth to leather), and the power adjustments got me
into the right position for some spirited driving. A minute playing around
with the Audi/Bose stereo system, and the engine was getting warmed up. Time
to hit the road!
As we made our way through the traffic, the car felt quite docile, but I
could feel the strength of the engine, ready to respond to my right foot.
A little squirt of the right foor, and the big Audi readily shot for and
snuck into a gap in the other lane. And, once again, settled into the mom-
and-pop luxury sedan mentality. Very quiet, if not as smooth as a VR6...
Eventually, we made our way down to Riverbank Road -- appropriately named as
it twists along its way, 100 feet above the Grand River. A little bit wider
at first, and I get to experience the hairy-shouldered power of the engine,
not growling from the start, but apparently nonchalantly pressing against our
backs, accelerating as fast as a Porsche 911SC -- without any fuss. Off the
line, until the boost builds up, the weight of the S4 certainly makes it lose
out to a "sportscar", but as the rpms near 3000 and the boost inches to 2.0,
you better pay attention to how fast the landscape passes you by!
As we made our way away from the inhabited part of the road into the narrower
and twistier section, the S4 was ready to show yet another facet of its perso-
nality. As I hurtled the big sedan throught the twists at 120 km/h, I began
to notice the muscle-car-like qualities of the engine less, instead being
fascinated by the total transformation from that luxury cruiser earlier. I
could not help but be impressed how the taut suspension and the quattro drive
compensated for the high curb weight, making the S4 amazingly agile, even on
a narrow country road not much wider than an English country lane.
As we began to rapidly approach civilization again, my wife expressed some
concern about my "excessive" speed on such a narrow road. Being an obedient
husband, I naturally braked to slow down -- and almost had my eyeballs pulled
out of their sockets by the deceleration! These brakes are all the more
impressive when you consider how much mass they have to slow down, but the
S4 stopped quicker than almost anything I have driven -- except maybe that 911.
As we cruised back to the dealership, I reflected on the character of the S4.
While the five-speed and the heavily bolstered seats probably don't make it
appealing to the typical Lincoln or Cadillac buyer, the car's Jekyll-and-Hyde
personality may make it the ultimate sedan for those of us wanting some real
performance thrown in with the luxury. You can crawl through stop-and-go
traffic and cruise at 110 km/h, cosseted by the docile powertrain, well
damped chassis and luxurious interior, feeling perfectly relaxed every time
you get out of the car.
But for those times when you can get away from the traffic, the S4 is there,
ready for you every time. For a sedan its size, it is amazingly agile, with
a highly responsive engine (surely the ultimate in Audi engines!), direct
steering, rigid yet communicative chassis, excellent brakes -- and the extra
grip of the quattro all-wheel-drive system. Truly a sportscar in a sedan's
Would anyone like to lend me some money?
[ \tom haapanen "i don't even know what street canada is on" -- al capone ]
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