13 Dec 2012

Audi S4 - New addition to the Speedmonkey fleet

Matt Hubbard takes delivery of an Audi S4

I've been after a performance car for years, but with children, dogs, limited budget and a long commute, practicality has taken over from desire.  The fastest car I've ever owned was my previous Golf 2.8 V6 4motion, which has a hatchback for the dogs and at last some semblance of four seats.

In recent months I've been itching for a serious performance car and went so far as to write an article about it.  My favourite was a Porsche 996.  The budget was pretty much there, and my wife's Land Rover is large enough to cope with the practicality side of things.

And then the weekend from hell happened.

Last weekend our oil-fired boiler, which breaks down more often than an ill-treated Alfa Romeo, finally decided to expire.  It splurged 10 litres of oil and 20 litres of water all over the utility room floor and then heated the house to furnace-like temperatures whilst not providing any hot water.  The Alfa analogy still holds fair.  We now need a new boiler, so that's £3,000 of the car budget gone.  Then my wife reversed her Land Rover into one of our gate posts and in pulling forwards, ripped off the entire drivers side rear quarter section - including the bodywork, bumper and lights.

Bugger.  Notwithstanding that I had at least some money for a car and, more importantly, decided the time to buy was NOW.  So I set about thinking, and discussing with my wife.

The plan is a rather complex one.  Buy a practical car, keep the Golf, sell the Land Rover (and the horse trailer we bought last year), then buy a 3.5 tonne horse box, buy a Porsche 996 and finally sell the Golf.

So I bought a practical car.  A 2004 Audi estate with 95,000 miles on the clock and full Audi service history.  Lots of room, luxurious leather Recaro seats, fantastic BOSE stereo, a fridge in the rear armrest(!), great looking 18 inch alloys and, most importantly, a 4.2 litre V8 beast under the bonnet.

My practical car is a B6 Audi S4.  With a manual gearbox.

I've driven it 100 miles, mainly on motorways and in -3°C but have formed some impressions already.

It's fast.  Very fast.  I've driven all sorts of supercars so am used to performance machines but the S4 feels just as quick as most, mainly because it's Quattro system means all the 340bhp of power can actually be used.  0-60 takes a shade over 5 seconds, in any weather.

It's loud.  Very loud.  The V8 in the Land Rover is fairly quiet.  The V8 in the Audi beats it's breast like  King Kong.  It shouts, it rumbles and it wails.

My 10 year old son loves it.  I thought he might be disappointed because we'd spent the Saturday beforehand sitting in and clambering over Porsches.  But he said the S4 is "awesome".

It's a bit of a handful.  The wide tyres, four wheel drive and 340bhp mean that, despite decently servo'd steering, the S4 needs assertive driver inputs to get the most out of it.

The brakes could stop a train.  Jaguar XFR and Mercedes SLS 63 AMG brakes are big and bite in an instant.  The S4's brakes have better feel, and the most immense stopping power.

It drinks fuel.  Gulps it, sucks it down.  It really likes to make petrol disappear, quickly.

The cigarette lighter is next to the handbrake.  So the TomTom charger lead gets in the way of the gearstick.  This will need to be sorted.

I'll report back regularly on life with the S4.  I took some pictures but they're pretty awful.