The sweet spot

The arrival of the Audi S4 and S5 models completes the S range in Australia.

The perfect balance of performance, presence and polish, the Audi S4 and S5 models arrive in Australia, completing the performance smorgasbord available to customers.

Camber Collective

14 December, 2020


The Audi S range of vehicles have always enjoyed a special place in the brand’s performance range

As the clock ticked over to 2020 at the end of last December, Audi Australia’s plans to introduce 27 new models and variants to the Australian market were well and truly advanced. With models covering the entire range of A, Q, S and RS – not to mention the introduction of the brand’s first all-electric model the Audi e-tron –  it was a serious roll out to say the least, and even on paper, it was exhausting just to look at.

Then of course the entire world was thrown a curve ball, to use a baseball analogy, and all plans for pretty much everyone and everything had to be completely reconsidered, redesigned or just tossed out.

To be sitting here in December reporting on the introduction of the completely refreshed Audi S4 and S5 models – all five body styles worth – after the year that’s been is a triumph. That their arrival completes the introduction and launch of all 27 new models this year as planned, is nothing short of extraordinary. And so too is the performance package these latest S models represent as they complete the Audi S offering Down Under.

The Audi S range of vehicles have always enjoyed a special place in the brand’s range, covering body styles from Cabriolet to Coupe, Avant to SUV, with each offering something special in terms of their combination of performance, luxury finish and appointment and of course the driving dynamics that customers in this segment demand.

Though the accepted wisdom is that the S stands for sport, it could just as easily stand for sophisticated or special given the capabilities and finish of these models. The arrival of the Audi S4 Sedan and Avant and the S5 models – Coupe, Sportback and Cabriolet – offer up a veritable smorgasbord of vehicles for someone looking for an elegant vehicle with true performance-oriented luxury.

The body styles and indeed the very character of each of these vehicles could not be more different despite the fact that they share a common powerplant – which we’ll get to in a moment.

The S4 offers up a Sedan and the Avant body shape – both of which have undergone significant, if subtle changes to their design in these new incarnations. Styling is much sharper and more defined on these new versions, with the treatment of the front grille perhaps the most obvious at a glance, but also the way the flanks are now more muscular and defined than before. The shoulder line has been integrated into the side design giving a more defined shape to the quattro ‘blisters’ which house the standard 19-inch rims. Then there are the subtle styling highlights that add to the overall effect and functionality of the vehicle, with that trademark S car subtlety. The slim, lip spoiler on the S4 Sedan or the aluminium roof rails that tie in with the aluminium-look wing mirrors which have always been an S styling trait.

Elegant yet purposeful, they exude a true presence even before the starter button is pressed and the low growl of the V6 puts it beyond any doubt.

Elegant yet purposeful, they exude a true presence even before the starter button is pressed

Inside each of these vehicles, the interior treatment is that celebrated blend of understated elegance for which Audi is so famous

The S5 models, from the classic Coupe that started it all, to the versatile and immensely popular Sportback design and the Cabriolet remain one of the great triumphs of modern automotive design. This classic shape has been refined over the years since it was first penned by design guru Walter de Silva, but radical changes to such a timeless shape would be a crime.

Sharper certainly and more aggressive, the S5 stays essentially true to its celebrated origins, while the Matrix LED headlights which are standard fit on the S5 models are integrated into the more chiseled looks and the standard 20-inch alloy wheels are the perfect fit. 

Inside each of these vehicles, the interior treatment is that celebrated blend of understated elegance for which Audi is so famous, immaculately finished and with the very latest automotive technology seamlessly interwoven. From the MMI with touch display, to the Audi virtual cockpit to the Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system – form meets function, meets pure luxury. The heated S sports front seats upholstered in Fine Nappa leather hug the body whether you are vigorously negotiating a winding country road or cruising out on the highway, the electric adjustment (including lumbar) and massage function adding another dimension to the luxury offering.

That each vehicle boasts the full suite of safety and driver assistance systems goes without saying.

Of course the obvious differences exist depending on the configuration. Those with a large family or bulky equipment to transport will be better served by the S4 Avant ($102,000*) or the S5 Sportback ($106,500*) – both of which feature electronically activated tailgates. Those more interested in intimate motoring should look no further than the S5 Coupe ($106,500*) or S5 Cabriolet ($120,000*). And then there’s the S4 Sedan ($99,500*), the classic sports sedan that never fails to impress in any situation.

But as different as their personas may be, these performance specials all share the same powerplant and that’s what sets them all apart out on the road. A superb 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 engine, producing 260kW of power and peak torque of 600Nm gives a pretty fair indication even on paper of just what these cars are capable of producing on the right roads with the right driver at the wheel.

With twin-scroll turbocharger’s located down inside the 90-degree ‘vee’ of the engine, that torque comes on from as low as 1400rpm (or 1370rom if you want to be really precise). That makes for impressive acceleration off the line, with the standing 100km/h sprint over in sub five seconds (again, 4.7 seconds if you want to be precise). Despite that level of performance, judicious use of the throttle in everyday driving delivers 8.6L/100km.

The V6 is mated to an eight-speed tiptronic transmission that can also be controlled via the shift paddles on the steering wheel for those wanting even greater control. 

Power goes down to the road surface through all four wheels of course as with every S model, the quattro permanent all-wheel drive delivering superb grip in wet or slippery road conditions, while the torque split of 40/60 between front and rear, provides a predictable rear bias under heavy acceleration that can be extended up to 85 percent to the rear under really heavy acceleration and ‘spirited’ driving.

Customers can also opt to add the quattro sport differential to their vehicle which gives even greater adjustment and can direct almost all of the rear axle’s torque to the wheel that has the most grip.

Power goes down to the road surface through all four wheels of course as with every S model

The result is a car – or cars to be completely accurate – that strike that perfect sweet spot between luxury conveyance and pure performance specialist

The S-specific sport suspension with adaptive damper control provides the perfect compromise between comfortable ride and dynamic performance depending on the situation. City and highway driving is as refined and comfortable as you would expect set to Comfort, but when the road and situation allows, the whole dynamic changes, providing an infinitely firmer feel that negates what little body roll exists anyway, but works perfectly in concert with the Audi drive select Dynamic setting.

The result is a car – or cars to be completely accurate – that strike that perfect sweet spot between luxury conveyance and pure performance specialist. They hit the mark on a day to day basis in everything from proper commuter traffic (think pre-COVID), to long distance highway runs, but they also deliver with interest for those who really like to drive.

The choice, of course, is intensely personal. But while the configurations might suggest significantly different  lifestyle needs – all are seriously performance oriented.

With the new S4 and S5 models now joining the likes of the S3 models, S6, S7 and S8, as well as the SQ5 models,SQ7 and SQ8 on the Australian market, that unique performance/luxury balance now covers the full complement of lifestyles and tastes. In fact, come the new year and the compact luxury SQ2 will also find its way Down Under, adding another dimension and another story to the Audi S ranks.

(*Manufacturer List Pricing [MLP] – excludes dealer delivery and government statutory charges)