The occasion was the launch of Audi’s fastest, lightest, most technically advanced and most affordable all-new Audi S4 ever.
The location, fittingly, was pitlane at Bathurst, where no fewer than nine Audi R8’s would represent the brand in the once around the clock classic in February this year.
The pinnacle of the A4 range, the Audi S4 comes in both sedan and wagon-(Avant)-body styles, and the thrills start at just $99,900 for the sedan and $102,900 for the Avant.
Making the new Audi S4 even more compelling is a six-grand price slice over its predecessor and an additional 12 grand of kit.
Behind the four-ringed grille lurks a 3.0 litre, twin-scroll turbocharged V6. Coupled to an eight-speed Tiptronic auto, a mechanical centre diff and quattro all-wheel, the co-developed with Porsche engine smashes out 260kW/500Nm. Zero to 100km/h is done and dusted in 4.7 seconds and there’s no let off until the electronic limiter kicks in at 250km/h.
But looking at it you’d never know.
Unlike others, it’s not festooned with wings and spoilers. Like all go-fast Audi’s it isn’t an attention seeker and frankly, I love the way it’s almost inconspicuous looks masks its sledge-hammer performance.
I say almost because this whippet of the A4 pack sits 23 mm lower on 19-inch alloys and wears a discreet body kit a single-frame black honeycomb grille and 3D-look adaptive headlights. The real giveaway to its performance status is the four large exhausts poking through the rear diffuser.
Audi reckons this new S4 has the most advanced infotainment and safety systems in the segment and includes the spectacular digitised and customisable Audi virtual cockpit, together with MMI navigation.
Inside there is a respectable amount of leg and headroom for all and the body-hugging Alcantara and Nappa-leather pews even have the option of three massage functions. Aluminium and carbon trimmings, Tri-Zone air con and a perfectly-sized, D-shape, leather covered, multi-function steering wheel with paddle shifts and stainless steel pedals add the finishing touches.
Like the A4, the S4’s interior is flawlessly crafted, is easily a class above its opposition and a wonderful place to spend many, many hours.
Safety wise Audi has emptied the catalogue into the S4 which comes with self-parking, adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, exit assist – to warn of approaching cyclists or pedestrians, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, cross traffic alert through the reversing camera, autonomous emergency braking (up to 85km/h), turn assist, collision avoidance and 360 surround-view degree cameras.
Now we are done with the facts and figures, let’s get to the heart of the matter. What it’s like to drive?
Fast with a capital F and engaging with a capital E.
The S4’s switchable drive modes vary the aggression of the steering, suspension, gearshifts and power delivery to let you fully exploit its sublime talents.
Sure, the ride is firm but the Audi S4 eats corners with more composure than Roger Federer and the steering is more communicative than a politician on election night. And it sticks to the road like paint with up to 85 percent of its power channelled to the rear wheels when you press on, reverting to a 60/40 split while cruising.
Although I covered about 800km in two days, and the Bathurst 12-Hour race was beckoning, I was relishing every minute behind the wheel didn’t want my time with the Audi S4 to come to an end.
Adding to the sensory overload, my ears pricked up every time I trod on the loud pedal and unleashed the barking exhaust note which gets deeper and louder on its way to the 6,500rpm redline.
Keeping my enthusiasm in check were meaty progressive disc brakes, with Audi red callipers.
This latest S4 isn’t just the king of the A4 range, it is also the crowning glory of the S4 badge, which was introduced by Audi back in 1993.
It is a superbly crafted, brilliantly executed performance luxury sedan par excellence, which is now more attainable and desirable than ever.
Check out the Audi S4 lineup at the Audi website.