The idea of a sleeper car, at least in America, is something quite sedate and normal looking, something that looks like your quiet aunt could drive, but is actually a performance monster. The last really good sleeper we got in America, at least that I can think of, is the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG wagon. High-performance wagons always make the best sleepers, because they look utilitarian but deliver stonking speed. Unfortunately, we don’t get many wagons here in the ‘States, especially Audi Avants.
However, in Europe, Audi develops a bunch of fast Avants and the new Audi S4 Avant is the brand’s newest and still the best sleeper on the market.
For 2016, Audi gave the new S4 a very subtly evolutionary look over the previous generation, a look that’s actually less exciting and brash than the previous car. Even in S4 guise, this new Avant doesn’t look like a car that will get your blood pumping. But its turbocharged 3.0 liter V6 with 354 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque will do exactly that, as it can get the S4 Avant from 0-60 mph in around 4.5 seconds. That’s damn quick for a car with just 354 hp.
Auto Express recently tested the Audi S4 Avant in this video and gives the same impression. From the outside, it doesn’t look like much and from the inside, it’s rather calm and sensible. As all Audi’s are. But put your foot down and the engine gives off a sort of subdued growl and then simply fires the S4 down the road. The shifts from the eight-speed ZF-sourced automatic are excellent in manual mode, with rapid-fire gear changes, and are smooth and comfortable in automatic mode. But either way, the pace that the S4 Avant can achieve is simply staggering, especially considering its subtle looks.
While the new Audi S4 Avant isn’t the sharpest handling car on the road, it’s still a very willing dance partner and far better than the car it replaces. Chuck it through tight corners and the Quattro all-wheel drive clings to the road while the turbo V6 fires it out. It’s a very capable car that can keep up with some of the greatest performance cars on the market.
But when things calm down and it’s time to just drive to the shop, the Audi S4 Avant can be quiet, comfortable and civilized. Something you can drive your grandmother around in without her complaining about a harsh ride or loud engine. It also has tons of practicality, with its big back seat and large trunk, thanks to its wagon body style. So while it can keep pace with some genuinely impressive sports cars, it can also be useful on moving day or for family road trips. And on the outside, that’s exactly what the Audi S4 Avant looks like it was designed for — to be a practical everyday family luxury car. Its looks belie the true power underneath and that’s what makes for a great sleeper.