There comes a time in one’s life, I’ve been made to understand, when a proficiency at juggling is well appreciated. Being able to keep a number of balls in the air, all the while keeping a smile plastered to your face can’t be easy. Thankfully there are some cars that make even the idea of performing any kind of juggling act that much more appealing.
Take Audi’s S4 Avant. It’s a regular S4, much like the sedan released last year, but somehow, the extension of the roofline into the wagon form makes this S even more irresistible.
If looks are your thing, take heart in the knowledge that Audi has rarely managed to turn out a bad-looking wagon. And Ingolstadt was clearly not about to create an exception this time around. Based on the standard A4 Avant, the S4 version’s presence is carried in its bigger bumpers with chrome horizontal slats, yawning airdams, more chrome on the rear valance, good-looking 19-inch wheels and those signature oval quad pipes and metallic wing mirror housings. There’s nothing incredibly OTT about the S4 Avant, although the eagerness shown by usually-reluctant Cape Town drivers to move from the passing lane once they’d spotted the wagon bearing down on them suggested maybe, just maybe, the S4’s presence extended beyond its rather tame styling additions. We suspect the manner in which the Avant’s wielded its massive power might’ve had something to do with the scuttling…
The S4 Avant’s power trip is fed by a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 making 245kW and 440Nm – more than enough to keep you (and the kids) entertained on the otherwise dreary school run. And while we’re not too sure about the pets’ possible responses, Audi says this wagon will sprint to 100kph in just 5.2 seconds. Overkill? We think not.
For those requiring more finesse from their family wheels, the Avant is fitted with Audi’s drive select system with Comfort, Auto and Dynamic settings at the punch of a button and additional individual settings accessed through MMI to influence how the car responds in various situations and driving conditions. Truth be told, we spent most of our time jangling along in Dynamic mode, enduring the hard ride through the sports suspension for sportier gearshifts via the fantastically quick seven-speed S tronic, tighter steering feel and a truly sonorous exhaust note.
Okay, so the steering courtesy of the electro-mechanical system is not all that great – in Comfort mode it’s overassisted at slow speeds, so we settled on Dynamic mode’s equally artificial overweighted feel…
The main attraction, of course, is the S4’s thunderous V6 engine. While even a gentle prod at the accelerator will send it champing at the bit, the true aural tickling starts when you mash your right foot into the floorboard. The throttle response and resultant acceleration is matched in urgency by the rapid-fire gearchanges as the ‘red mist’ descends on the Avant. It’s incredibly fast which, in turn, makes it utterly addictive and, because you know there’s a quattro all-wheel drive system instructing the wheels, you’re able to attack those corners with extra vigour, tapping the brakes a little later.
Audi’s S4 Avant is the consummate all-rounder. For those concerned about the environment and fuel consumption (as if…) there’s auto start/stop to help ease your conscience. It has enough space and versatility for the active family (one colleague gleefully recounted being able to load a mountain bike into the rear with the bench backs folded forward) and huge fun factor for those days when the only company you need is a mountain pass – or three – and an Avant. And that should limber you up for any heavy juggling that still needs doing.
Price: R637 000