I tell everyone I meet that Audi’s S4 (sedan and wagon) and S5 (coupe, convertible and liftback) are the absolute sweet spot of the Audi range. I mean, often they aren’t at all interested, but I tell them anyway – the S4/S5 is just that sort of car!
Both the S4 and the S5 sport the same 260kw turbocharged 3.0 litre V6 and eight-speed automatic transmission. This combination is enough to propel both down the strip for the 0-100kph sprint to be dispatched in 4.7 seconds. What these figures can’t reveal though is the effortless nature of this engine/transmission combo. In real-world driving, the effect is ample power whenever you want it, but without the theatrics that sometimes accompanies the RS4/RS5.
Actually, the real standout feature of the S4 and S5 is an overwhelming sense of balance. Sure, the RS4 and RS5 manage to squeeze another 71kw and 100nm from their 3.0 litre six by throwing on another turbo and turning the volume up to eleven, but it’s just all a bit too much. Give an RS4 a bit of welly and you go from zero to go-to-gaol quicker than you can say whoa!
On paper, the S5 only gives away 0.8 of a second in the 0-100kph sprint, but from the driver’s seat, the RS is an altogether more violent proposition. The RS has none of the perfect blend of comfort, effortless performance and sporty-ish style of the S4 and S5. It’s such that if money were no object, I would pick the S4 and S5 over an RS every single time. The $40k saving over the RS range is just the icing on the cake.
What also can’t be adequately conveyed in writing is the sense of quality that you get when driving the S4 and S5 range. It is well documented how well Audi’s are built, but moving beyond deep paint and soft leather it is sometimes difficult to really assess the true quality of a car. Headlights, for example, are often overlooked, yet on the S4 and S5, the LED headlights have High Beam Assist, which cleverly bends the light in a way that high beam is almost always activated but in a way that doesn’t dazzle other traffic. It’s very clever and very, very useful.
In other areas, the S4 and S5 are well equipped with all of the active and passive safety features you would expect in a $100k sedan or coupe. Speaking of the coin, the coupe comes at a $7k premium over the sedan. With kids in tow, the sedan or wagon format of the S4 is a no-brainer, but the S5 Sportback would also work and adds a little more style.
However, for me, the S5 is best enjoyed as a coupe – it has two fairly comfortable rear seats, ready for when you need them, but delivers a stylish and muscular aesthetic that people are really drawn to. This is doubly so if you select the metallic District Green of the test car. In fact, get Audi on the line and let them know this one’s not coming back.