Audi S4 Avant 2017 Track Testing
When Audi threw us the keys to its newest S4, we figured another ‘road’ test wouldn’t reveal much more than we already knew. We’d already sampled the car at the international launch in Germany and during our first Australian drive out of Orange. On both occasions it left us impressed.
But rather than another glowing appraisal of the S4’s many merits – and there are many – we decided a trip to the track was in order. Here, the 260kW/500Nm EA838-series turbocharged V6 would have a chance to stretch its legs, free from the inhibitions of a 100km/h speed limit.
We’d also have a closed, safe environment in which to challenge the all-wheel drive system’s locking centre differential, tightened suspension and bigger brakes – extremely capable equipment seldom exploited to its fullest on the road. And while we make no claims of being race drivers here at motoring.com.au, we do have on staff a man who is. V8 Supercar racer Luke Youlden jumped behind the wheel of the S4 Avant 3.0 TFSI quattro (to use its correct title) at Victoria’s Broadford Raceway, quickly setting a time that came a bee’s junk close to certain ‘M’ and ‘AMG’ models we could – and will – mention. More on that in a moment.
Accelerating hard from the pitlane, Youlden wastes no time bring the S4 to redline. The turbocharged V6 complies eagerly, spinning freely to its 6400rpm peak and shifting seamlessly through its eight-speed automatic.
The transmission responds instantly to the commands of the steering wheel-mounted paddles, and by turn 1-2 (a long, sweeping, uphill, on/off-camber, tightening-apex corner) the S4 is already well over the state prescribed speed limit.
It’s here Youlden comments on the first of the S4’s ‘unexpected’ strengths, balance at the limit.
“I was expecting the S4 to understeer here,” explained Youlden. “If anything it had a slight tendency toward mid-corner oversteer. Combine the traction of the quattro all-wheel drive system and it’s really easy to balance the car — just modulate the throttle through the corner, then mash it early and drive it out.”