If there’s anything that us American car enthusiasts are jealous of the European car market for, it’s the fact that they get all the great wagons and we get stuck with more crossovers than most suburban soccer moms know what to do with. The latest example of that is the brand-new 2016 Audi S4 Avant.
While we’ll get the standard S4 sedan in North America, we won’t get the longroof version because us ‘Mericans don’t like “station wagons”. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t live vicariously through the folks in Europe. So when Top Gear test drives the new Audi S4 Avant, we take notice.
The biggest change for the new Audi S4 over the last generation is the engine. Instead of the old 3.0 liter supercharged V6, which was actually quite beloved by the Audi community, the new S4 sports an all-new 3.0 liter V6 but with a turbocharger instead. Power is bumped up to 350 hp, up from the 333 hp of the previous generation. This power bump is able to get the S4 from 0-60 mph in just 4.9 seconds and on to an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph. But the important number for this new engine is the torque figure, which is a healthy 369 lb-ft, all of it available from 1,300 – 4,500 rpm. So this new car punches hard.
It’s also more economic and more fuel efficient, being able to get 37.7 mpg on the European cycle and only emit 171g/km of CO2. This makes it significantly improved over the last car, while adding power and performance.
But most are wondering what it’s actually like to drive, as you could have just read a spec sheet to figure all of that other info out. According to Top Gear, this new Audi S4 Avant is very good and better than the old car.
Replacing the old six-speed dual-clutch gearbox in the previous B8 generation Audi S4, this new B9-gen car uses an eight-speed ZF-sourced automatic and it works very well. However, unlike the snappy , rapid-fire upshifts of the dual-clutch, the traditional torque-converter eight-speed unit blurs the line between gears a bit. While shifts are almost exactly as fast, they don’t feel as rapid-fire, as it just isn’t a dual-clutch ‘box. However, in auto mode, it’s smoother and more comfortable and the extra couple of cogs makes it better for highway cruising.
We test drove the new B9-generation Audi A4 a little while back and remarked at just how much better the new car rides and drives than the old car. It’s both more comfortable and more agile. It handles better and is smoother over bigger bumps, making the old car feel downright wooden. The same goes for this new S4 Avant, which feels miles better. The three-mode optional adaptive dampers Top Gear ran were more than capable soaking up bumps well enough on tough UK roads, while still cutting out body roll and remaining both flat and composed. Even on 19″ wheels.
The clever optional sports differential is a must-have, though, according to Top Gear. It sends up to 60 percent of the power to the rear wheels under normal driving, so the S4 always feels neutral and balanced. It can then shuffle power around as needed, if the wheels start to slip or more grip is needing through corners.
While the Audi S4 Avant isn’t exactly cheap, and the necessary optional extras don’t help the cause, it’s worth the money as it can be all cars in one. It’s fast, fun and comfortable while also providing all of the necessary practicality any family could want. The best all-rounder is back and better than ever.