S4 avant v Golf R estate - review

Chiefbadger

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Having run one of the last b8.5 S4 Avant's for 18 months, I've jumped into a facelift Golf R estate this month (with a few months running a stage 2 3.0t Audi A6 in the interim) and figured it might be worth sharing some thoughts.

The golf r has been on my radar since it was released and was in fact my first choice when I was looking a few years ago, but when I found out what kind of deals were available on the S4 at the time, it was a deal breaker.

Overview:

The S4 had the sports diff and adaptive dampers and was an exceptional car. Even at the end of its 'model' life, it looked fresh, purposeful and although there were a few cheap plastics internally, it still felt like a very nice place to be.

The Golf is totally stock (I'm leasing it) and running on 18's rather than 19's. The finish is way below that of the S4 (things like boot hinges, panel ends etc are badly finished) and the interior is still a notch or two down from the older S4. The only difference being the new dash/nav which are really nice. It definitely feels like a cheaper car all around though.

Just to give this some context - when I was looking a couple of years ago, the S4 I got was coming in at an almost identical price to the golf r on a PCP deal. With £5k down the S4 was £375p/m and the golf was £372 from memory. You can see why I went with the S4!

Driving:

Audi
The S4 was fantastic. Far quicker than it felt, incredibly solid and the ride with the adaptive dampers felt very controlled (I mostly drove in comfort steering/dampers with everything else in dynamic) and was basically a fantastic family sports car. It held its own chasing some exotic machinery to Goodwood on a few occasions but also spent a lot of time fully loaded in national trust car parks.

Couple of observations -
Engine - wonderfully responsive, great torque. Having then driven a stage 2, the major difference is at 50+mph. Motorway overtakes become blink of an eye jobs. I just wish that there was a bit more drama - noise etc.
Tyres - they are very tyre sensitive. Even with 3/4mm left, handling and traction took a massive dive.
Handling - sports diff and 'proper' 4wd gave the car huge ability, but with esc off also allowed the car to be driven more aggressively. I never tracked it, but you could feel the rear working hard.

VW
The R feels like the sportier car almost immediately. Great seats, nice steering wheel and very taught/controlled even at v slow speed. I think others have already said this but it always feels a bit more poised and on its toes. Noticeably stiffer than the S4 even on smaller wheels too.

Engine -
A real mixed bag. Feels sluggish and diesel like off boost and sounds a bit rough. All forgotten on boost though! Feels quicker than the S4 due to delivery, it's also happy to rev which is nice
Tyres - it's on potenzas which seem to be almost universally hated. They seem alright?! Will see how I get on.
Handling - this is the golfs party trick. It really does give you confidence. Feels like a grown up 4wd version of my old Clio trophy and that is high praise. (Although some of the plastics also feel like a 2005 Renault!!)

Happy to go into more detail where people want it!!
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Interesting thoughts... what about running costs on a day to day basis? Whilst we all would love to drive cars like we stole them; most of us have to do the normal commute with a "bit of fun" thrown in as it were...;). Also what about storage space? One of things that is attracting me a little more to the golf is that the boot is huge compared to the S4...(well apparently according to figures 605 vs 490)?


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Interesting thoughts... what about running costs on a day to day basis? Whilst we all would love to drive cars like we stole them; most of us have to do the normal commute with a "bit of fun" thrown in as it were...;). Also what about storage space? One of things that is attracting me a little more to the golf is that the boot is huge compared to the S4...(well apparently according to figures 605 vs 490)?


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Running costs are tricky to judge as the golf is so new, but in terms of total 'cost of ownership' the Golf is going to be waaay cheaper because of the lease deal.

I got through a set of tyres in 11000 miles on the S4 - they still had 3/4 mm but were tramlining terribly and the car felt awful. New set of Goodyear assym 3's were just over £600 fitted.
I had one service which came in at around £200 (I supplied my own oil)
Long term average according to the dis was 19.6mpg (but the car was mainly used either in town or on long A/b road runs. Very rarely on the motorway. Managed 34mpg on a long run once.
Never used any oil, never had any warranty issues.

The golf is going to be better all around on those costs. It's currently at around 25mpg over the first 400 miles but I've seen 40 on a fairly brief run - otherwise it's mostly been in town so far.
Tyres are going to be a lot cheaper as 18's
I'm assuming servicing will be a bit cheaper on the basis it's a 4cyl.

The boot on the golf is bigger - and has very usable space for 'junk' in the wheel well under the boot floor. It's not enough that I've particularly noticed the benefit though - still takes a couple of kids bikes and a buggy etc.


The interior is smaller though!

Biggest difference is the total cost of ownership though. The lease I've got is VERY cheap.

Working it out over an aggregate 24 month period, the audi cost me £502 p/m without tax/servicing/fuel etc.

The golf is £301 and includes rfl for 2years.

I'd say if you have to pay 'full' price for the golf, the difference between it and the S4 is probably minimal. In which case I'd almost definitely take the S4!

In summary - audi is a mature, slick, incredibly refined car.
Vw does a lot of what the audi does well and some bits even better, but it feels like a cheaper product all around.




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Hmm that's the dilemma for me; my last two cars have been Audis (TT then the A3), trying to find a blend of practicality and fun really without totally ridiculous running costs/maintenance (which rules out rs4!). I scuba dive for a hobby, so a big boot is a must, which also involves trips the coast and sometimes longer jaunts to Scotland/Cornwall etc. Plus I'm sure a family will come along at some point in the next few years so space is welcome. Commute is 18 miles each way so day to day mileage isn't too bad, currently fill up 2x a month with the A3, doing a bit of man maths suggests that even with a petrol I could still do a 2x month in general so fuel bill wouldn't be too different, although when I do the longer trips to the coast 35-40mpg would be welcome (which is where the golf wins as it has a smaller engine). I've test driven the golf and was quite impressed, but you are right in that the perceived quality of the materials is a step down (even in an older model), which does keep bringing me back to the Audi.. 252ps quattro is a possibility but those are even rarer than the golf r estate to find on used sites...


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I had a Golf R before getting a S4. For me quality in the audi is much better than the VW. The MPG in town driving the Golf was around 10 mpg better and on the motorway I'd say 5 difference. But you don't by a S4 for MPG. I put a JB1 box on the Golf and it made a massive difference to the response of the car a lot more urgency. I beleive the s4 is a better car all round minus the MPG but you trade off for a better engine.

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I had a Golf R before getting a S4. For me quality in the audi is much better than the VW. The MPG in town driving the Golf was around 10 mpg better and on the motorway I'd say 5 difference. But you don't by a S4 for MPG. I put a JB1 box on the Golf and it made a massive difference to the response of the car a lot more urgency. I beleive the s4 is a better car all round minus the MPG but you trade off for a better engine.

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Are you in a b8 or b9 S4?


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Good work. The supercharged V6 is such a peach of an engine.

The only trouble with stage 2 is that it makes everything else feel underpowered!!

You've also got to be seriously careful at motorway speeds. The pick up from 70+ is immense.


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Good work. The supercharged V6 is such a peach of an engine.

The only trouble with stage 2 is that it makes everything else feel underpowered!!

You've also got to be seriously careful at motorway speeds. The pick up from 70+ is immense.


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I can only imagine, the suspense is killing me. I use to chuck the Golf around corners once it had the box was so fun to drive. Launch control surprised many cars but the s4 well it's a completely different beast. I'm planning on keeping for a long while as its my daily so 5 years at least. It's on 70k already 2013 plate.

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You've also got to be seriously careful at motorway speeds. The pick up from 70+ is immense.
You have to be careful at all speeds.... Dropping the accelerator into kickdown (I assume you have a DSG) is a revelation. On mine, if you push the accelerator right down, it double-kicks down dropping you to a much lower gear at about 6k rpm (I've never looked what gear it drops to!), rising rapidly to 7.2k, farting, then changing up. After the first downshift, I reckon the whole process (6-7.2k and upshift) takes around a second. Seriously, SERIOUSLY fast. So far, I've run out of balls (speed limit)/bravado (road conditions) before the car even thinks of running out of acceleration ;)
 
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Ah mann roll on August that sounds almost sexual lol

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It is tuner dependent though. Combination of DSG retune and engine and how they work together. Not sat in a different stage 2 tune....
 
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Well looks I need to have a test drive in an S4 to really make a fair comparison.. a quick squint on autotrader shows S4 avants (B8.5) fully loaded being around the same money as Golf R estates, of which similarly loaded examples are quite rare (mostly ex lease stock so pretty basic)... one question - car tax on the B8.5 - what is the actual level/price?

All the ones on autotrader (or even the audi used site seem to quote values between 180-197g/km CO2?


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Good work. The supercharged V6 is such a peach of an engine.

The only trouble with stage 2 is that it makes everything else feel underpowered!!

You've also got to be seriously careful at motorway speeds. The pick up from 70+ is immense.


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This is very true. I only have a stage 1, and the first time I gave it the beans after the map was done, it was on a downward entry slip ramp onto the M25. I was in S mode, and my foot was flat down. I had one eye on the mirror for gaps to move into the lanes, and the other eye on the rev counter as it repeatedly raced up to the new redline of 6,500rpm. A natural gap allowed me to move straight into lane three, at which point I stopped accelerating and looked at the speedo. It was reading......ahem....125mph.

I backed off.
 
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Well looks I need to have a test drive in an S4 to really make a fair comparison.. a quick squint on autotrader shows S4 avants (B8.5) fully loaded being around the same money as Golf R estates, of which similarly loaded examples are quite rare (mostly ex lease stock so pretty basic)... one question - car tax on the B8.5 - what is the actual level/price?

All the ones on autotrader (or even the audi used site seem to quote values between 180-197g/km CO2?


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Definitely drive both. There is also a difference between the facelift Golf and the previous gen as you get a 7spd dsg and a few other bits - 10bhp, new dash etc.

Can't remember what the tax was but it's not silly if you're in an 8.5. Think it's only a few of the b8's that went over the higher threshold.




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So to try and sum up the basics, a few pros and cons on both . . .

S4 (8.5)
Pros
-engine
-quality - interior and exterior
-prestige
-looks
-tunability

Cons
-dated tech
-needs to be specced well (imo)
-lacking 'edge'

Golf R (7.5)
Pros
-out the box performance
-tech
-impressive kit/ride as standard
-feels far more chuckable than the S4
-price

Cons
-feels substantially cheaper all round
-engine (does the job, but nothing on a supercharged V6!)
-looks (clearly subjective) I think it looks great from the front, but the rear three quarters just doesn't work anywhere near as well.

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Definitely drive both. There is also a difference between the facelift Golf and the previous gen as you get a 7spd dsg and a few other bits - 10bhp, new dash etc.

Can't remember what the tax was but it's not silly if you're in an 8.5. Think it's only a few of the b8's that went over the higher threshold.




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VED for a B8.5 saloon is £240, might be more for an Avant.
 
So far, I've run out of balls (speed limit)/bravado (road conditions) before the car even thinks of running out of acceleration ;)
I have to agree with this. Currently the performance of my car exceeds my confidence/driving skill so I have to "hold it back".
 
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This is very true. I only have a stage 1, and the first time I gave it the beans after the map was done, it was on a downward entry slip ramp onto the M25. I was in S mode, and my foot was flat down. I had one eye on the mirror for gaps to move into the lanes, and the other eye on the rev counter as it repeatedly raced up to the new redline of 6,500rpm. A natural gap allowed me to move straight into lane three, at which point I stopped accelerating and looked at the speedo. It was reading......ahem....125mph.

I backed off.

haha love this, i have also found i spend more time trying to slow mine down than speed it up

i tax both cars monthly one less thing for me to forget
 
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So ****** easy to hit the three digits, i.e. 77.1 mph ;) specially after the remap. It transforms the car completely. And I completely agree with all of you, at times it does scare you as before you realise you are doing illegal speed limits. Mine was remapped back in April and I'll be lying to say I feel confident driving at higher speeds. But, it is ****** exciting
 
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Having run one of the last b8.5 S4 Avant's for 18 months, I've jumped into a facelift Golf R estate this month (with a few months running a stage 2 3.0t Audi A6 in the interim) and figured it might be worth sharing some thoughts.

The golf r has been on my radar since it was released and was in fact my first choice when I was looking a few years ago, but when I found out what kind of deals were available on the S4 at the time, it was a deal breaker.

Overview:

The S4 had the sports diff and adaptive dampers and was an exceptional car. Even at the end of its 'model' life, it looked fresh, purposeful and although there were a few cheap plastics internally, it still felt like a very nice place to be.

The Golf is totally stock (I'm leasing it) and running on 18's rather than 19's. The finish is way below that of the S4 (things like boot hinges, panel ends etc are badly finished) and the interior is still a notch or two down from the older S4. The only difference being the new dash/nav which are really nice. It definitely feels like a cheaper car all around though.

Just to give this some context - when I was looking a couple of years ago, the S4 I got was coming in at an almost identical price to the golf r on a PCP deal. With £5k down the S4 was £375p/m and the golf was £372 from memory. You can see why I went with the S4!

Driving:

Audi
The S4 was fantastic. Far quicker than it felt, incredibly solid and the ride with the adaptive dampers felt very controlled (I mostly drove in comfort steering/dampers with everything else in dynamic) and was basically a fantastic family sports car. It held its own chasing some exotic machinery to Goodwood on a few occasions but also spent a lot of time fully loaded in national trust car parks.

Couple of observations -
Engine - wonderfully responsive, great torque. Having then driven a stage 2, the major difference is at 50+mph. Motorway overtakes become blink of an eye jobs. I just wish that there was a bit more drama - noise etc.
Tyres - they are very tyre sensitive. Even with 3/4mm left, handling and traction took a massive dive.
Handling - sports diff and 'proper' 4wd gave the car huge ability, but with esc off also allowed the car to be driven more aggressively. I never tracked it, but you could feel the rear working hard.

VW
The R feels like the sportier car almost immediately. Great seats, nice steering wheel and very taught/controlled even at v slow speed. I think others have already said this but it always feels a bit more poised and on its toes. Noticeably stiffer than the S4 even on smaller wheels too.

Engine -
A real mixed bag. Feels sluggish and diesel like off boost and sounds a bit rough. All forgotten on boost though! Feels quicker than the S4 due to delivery, it's also happy to rev which is nice
Tyres - it's on potenzas which seem to be almost universally hated. They seem alright?! Will see how I get on.
Handling - this is the golfs party trick. It really does give you confidence. Feels like a grown up 4wd version of my old Clio trophy and that is high praise. (Although some of the plastics also feel like a 2005 Renault!!)

Happy to go into more detail where people want it!!
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@Chiefbadger - Interesting thoughts
New Golf R looks great mate. Very nice indeedy!

Sure did like the colour of your old S4Avant tho' ... ;) :D
 
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My pal has a mk7 R hatch that's running 560BHP and it is the absolute nuts of a car!
 
Well, after giving things some serious though and discussing at length with mrs smk82, decided not to go for the s4 at the moment; needs must for spending more sorting out the. New house.. the golf however is still in play, found a decent 18month old one with pretty much all the toys I want.. going to negotiate on Sunday..


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Well, after giving things some serious though and discussing at length with mrs smk82, decided not to go for the s4 at the moment; needs must for spending more sorting out the. New house.. the golf however is still in play, found a decent 18month old one with pretty much all the toys I want.. going to negotiate on Sunday..


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Good luck with fixing a good deal, be interesting to hear how you get on as the media seem to be painting a more depressed (certainly new, atm ) car market.
 
well didn't quite manage to get what I wanted for my car, but managed to get £250 extra off the golf... so partial result.. still he's throwing in complete detail and valet by a known detailing firm (south-west detailing), new brake pads/discs/tyres and service. It still has just over a years warranty left on it, and he's adding his 6 month one as well. there is about 4 months left on the service plan as well which will transfer to me. They are even going to paint/clean up the hubs/brake disc shields as like most VAG cars out of showrooms, the hubs are looking a bit rusty...
 
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All sorted and picked up on Saturday. I'll miss my A3 but excited over the time with the new car...
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Evening! Been a while since I’ve popped in!

Great deal on the Seat and sounds like a good deal on the Golf R too.

Happy to share further thoughts of anyone wants now that I’m 6 months in.

Short answer is that I really miss my S4 though.


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Thanks @Bristle Hound ...!

Hi @Chiefbadger , we spoke before on here when I was trying to work out if I had found your old S4 Avant for sale (which I hadnt as it turned out). Would love to hear what you think of the R Estate now. I really wanted an S4 Avant - but couldnt make the numbers work in my favour really, and decided that the next best option was an R Estate as they released some pretty decent lease deals again.

Having not owned an S4 I'm hoping that I will just love the R, and at the price I reckon I should. But don't give me a pile of bad news!!! Hahaha.
 
Evening! Been a while since I’ve popped in!

Great deal on the Seat and sounds like a good deal on the Golf R too.

Happy to share further thoughts of anyone wants now that I’m 6 months in.

Short answer is that I really miss my S4 though.


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@Chiefbadger - I remember you posting a couple of photos of your R Estate on here somewhere too - have they disappeared??
 
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It’s been just under 6 months with the golf now and other than the sat nav basically point blank refusing to work (gps is clearly broken but VW want the car for 3 days to take headlining out etc to fix and I can’t be bothered) I’ve been really impressed.

It’s biggest failing is that it’s just a bit dull as it’s so competent. It’s been said many times before, but the Haldex system basically makes it feel like a fwd with more grip. Basically very safe, but far less fun than a proper 4WD system. You have to be pushing really, really hard to get it to move about and that basically means that it’s just too accomplished on road to be any real fun.

It feels smaller than the S4 on the road but has more boot space and is just as quick (if less responsive) so as a family car it’s absolutely great. Seats are comfy, dash layout and general ergonomics are all great. You sit a bit high, but isn’t that the same for almost everything these days.

The spec is a real bonus given that it’s all standard. The lights are excellent, dash is great, heated seats, folding mirrors, adaptive cruise, F&R sensors etc. Feels a bit odd having cloth seats after so many years of leather, but they’re decent and look pretty good too.

I’d say that the S4 felt better damped, but then I never drove one on standard dampers so maybe unfair to compare.

It’s been driven pretty hard and done a very good job hanging on to the tails of some very serious kit (see pic above). Basically at anything up to the speed limit it really impresses. I’m sure that over that it’s another story, but in the real world it’s as quick as you’d need a car to be. It also sounds pretty good now it’s got a few miles on it.

I’m basically really impressed. It’s also (in appliance white at least) far more of a q car than I was expecting. You really have to know what you’re looking at to give it a second glance which makes for a discreet, quick car.

The biggest problem is that Audi lent me an RS5 for the weekend (I won some competition on Facebook) and it’s completely and utterly got me hooked on finding a way to get the new RS4. Wow. Mind blowing performance, incredibly comfortable and just a lovely place to be. I really struggled to give the keys back.

Struggled a bit as a family wagon though!

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It’s been just under 6 months with the golf now and other than the sat nav basically point blank refusing to work (gps is clearly broken but VW want the car for 3 days to take headlining out etc to fix and I can’t be bothered) I’ve been really impressed.

It’s biggest failing is that it’s just a bit dull as it’s so competent. It’s been said many times before, but the Haldex system basically makes it feel like a fwd with more grip. Basically very safe, but far less fun than a proper 4WD system. You have to be pushing really, really hard to get it to move about and that basically means that it’s just too accomplished on road to be any real fun.

It feels smaller than the S4 on the road but has more boot space and is just as quick (if less responsive) so as a family car it’s absolutely great. Seats are comfy, dash layout and general ergonomics are all great. You sit a bit high, but isn’t that the same for almost everything these days.

The spec is a real bonus given that it’s all standard. The lights are excellent, dash is great, heated seats, folding mirrors, adaptive cruise, F&R sensors etc. Feels a bit odd having cloth seats after so many years of leather, but they’re decent and look pretty good too.

I’d say that the S4 felt better damped, but then I never drove one on standard dampers so maybe unfair to compare.

It’s been driven pretty hard and done a very good job hanging on to the tails of some very serious kit (see pic above). Basically at anything up to the speed limit it really impresses. I’m sure that over that it’s another story, but in the real world it’s as quick as you’d need a car to be. It also sounds pretty good now it’s got a few miles on it.

I’m basically really impressed. It’s also (in appliance white at least) far more of a q car than I was expecting. You really have to know what you’re looking at to give it a second glance which makes for a discreet, quick car.

The biggest problem is that Audi lent me an RS5 for the weekend (I won some competition on Facebook) and it’s completely and utterly got me hooked on finding a way to get the new RS4. Wow. Mind blowing performance, incredibly comfortable and just a lovely place to be. I really struggled to give the keys back.

Struggled a bit as a family wagon though!

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Very thorough analysis mate


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It’s been just under 6 months with the golf now and other than the sat nav basically point blank refusing to work (gps is clearly broken but VW want the car for 3 days to take headlining out etc to fix and I can’t be bothered) I’ve been really impressed.

It’s biggest failing is that it’s just a bit dull as it’s so competent. It’s been said many times before, but the Haldex system basically makes it feel like a fwd with more grip. Basically very safe, but far less fun than a proper 4WD system. You have to be pushing really, really hard to get it to move about and that basically means that it’s just too accomplished on road to be any real fun.

It feels smaller than the S4 on the road but has more boot space and is just as quick (if less responsive) so as a family car it’s absolutely great. Seats are comfy, dash layout and general ergonomics are all great. You sit a bit high, but isn’t that the same for almost everything these days.

The spec is a real bonus given that it’s all standard. The lights are excellent, dash is great, heated seats, folding mirrors, adaptive cruise, F&R sensors etc. Feels a bit odd having cloth seats after so many years of leather, but they’re decent and look pretty good too.

I’d say that the S4 felt better damped, but then I never drove one on standard dampers so maybe unfair to compare.

It’s been driven pretty hard and done a very good job hanging on to the tails of some very serious kit (see pic above). Basically at anything up to the speed limit it really impresses. I’m sure that over that it’s another story, but in the real world it’s as quick as you’d need a car to be. It also sounds pretty good now it’s got a few miles on it.

I’m basically really impressed. It’s also (in appliance white at least) far more of a q car than I was expecting. You really have to know what you’re looking at to give it a second glance which makes for a discreet, quick car.

The biggest problem is that Audi lent me an RS5 for the weekend (I won some competition on Facebook) and it’s completely and utterly got me hooked on finding a way to get the new RS4. Wow. Mind blowing performance, incredibly comfortable and just a lovely place to be. I really struggled to give the keys back.

Struggled a bit as a family wagon though!

6d9164c27e555f9be9f2e92d3f6b8834.jpg
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Thanks for posting that @Chiefbadger , makes me feel more assured that I made the right decision at this moment in time. Great review/feedback! It does indeed sound like a lot of car for the money on these random cheap lease deals that come out from time to time. That RS5 though!!!!

Do you still use some form of Child Seat for your children? If so, and assuming the seats use the Seat Belt across the child, how is getting the seat belt in to the buckle/socket bit? My current A180 5 door is a nightmare as the seat overhangs the seat belt socket bit, so I have to haul the seat towards me to free up space to get the seat belt to latch in. My daughter hears a few choice words on those rushing to get her to school cos I'm late days!!

Are you running it on 98 RON fuel? Ever tried it on 95 to see if much difference??

Cheers
Future R Estate Owner!!
 

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