I’m sure many people can relate to the haircut-related drama that a lack of open hairdressers and barbers is causing for me at the moment. I’ve already had a crack with the clippers but trying to cut one’s own hair is a lot more difficult than it appears on a youtube tutorial. Needless to say, it looks a bit like I’ve been pushed through a particularly sharp and spiky hedge.
So call it haircuts being on the brain – which, in fairness, is where they are most of the time – but I’ve realised that ‘my’ S4 Avant has quite a lot in common with that most iconic of trims – the mullet. Bear with me.
You see the front end of the S4 is all about business. It’s big and brash and it’s here where the true nature of the 3.0-litre diesel can be heard in all of its gravelly, unrefined glory. Diesels can often be tuned to sound a little more songful, but the nose of this Audi is where you’ll find a diesel engine in full tractor mode.
But switch to the back and things start loosening up. You’ve got four exhaust pipes here, but only two are ‘working’ ones; so much like a mullet, it’s quite a lot of show for not much go here. Then, there’s the noise. Audi has done some technical wizardry to ‘pipe’ a V8-style grumble to the outside of the car so that, at low speeds, it sounds like a speedboat is chugging towards you. On the old SQ7, with its booming V8 diesel, this was the real McCoy. But on the Audi, it’s all synthetic.
And you know what? I’m not against it. In bygone days I’d have been aghast at the prospect of a car faking both two of its pipes and the noise coming out of them, but it makes the S4 a little more exciting. It puts a bit of ‘fun’ into the experience which, in truth, is something often lacking from an estate car – even one as powerful as the S4. If it were my choice, I’d probably opt for just two, working exhaust pipes at either side of the back of the car – but what’s wrong with an exhaust-related white lie from time to time?
Does this mean I’m now a fan of a mullet? Perhaps.
Thankfully, some longer work-related trips have allowed me to put some decent mileage underneath the S4’s wheels. Coronavirus-related restrictions and a general lack of moving around have meant that I’ve not spent as much time in the Audi as I would’ve liked, so it’s been good to finally allow it to stretch its legs.
In fact, on decent drives I’ve been getting just over 39mpg at points and an average of 36.7mpg – close to Audi’s claimed 39.8mpg. I reckon when the car loosens up a little more it’ll better this, but I’ll report back once I’ve been able to give it some more time on the motorway. But it’s here where the S4 so feels as at home as a dog sat underneath the fire. It’s a car that aches to be driven on the German autobahn which is where it was likely first tested. It’s settled and comfortable and the sports suspension sits in its perfect operating window, riding and cresting over surfaces with little trouble.
I’d still suggest opting for the optional adaptive dampers if you’re considering an S4, as the standard springs on this car leave it with a ride that feels too on the firm-side of things when you’re driving slowly. It’s liveable, certainly, but not quite as comfortable as you’d like.
I do enjoy how perfectly ‘sized’ the S4 is on the road; I’ve always thought that this – and both the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class – feel like the ‘right’ size and weight, whereas the class above begins to feel a little more unwieldy.
The S4 also passed a significant test recently – the bike-with-front-wheel-on exam. In many cars, you have to remove the front wheel of a bike in order to get it in the back, but the S4 gobbled up a road bike without a moment’s hesitation. It’s good news for the summer, as I’m planning a few rides further afield – when we’re permitted to do so, of course.
I’m looking forward to spending some more time with the S4 over the coming months. It’s due to be returned to Audi in the middle of the summer, but I’m hoping that I’ll be able to complete some adventures with it – one of them being to the hairdressers, fingers crossed.
Model: Audi S4 Avant
Base price: £47,405
Model as tested: S4 Avant Black Edition
Engine: Turbocharged V6 diesel
Max speed: 155 mph
Emissions: 166g/km CO2