The next Audi S4 performance wagon has been spotted in Europe, with a technology-packed cabin and what looks to be a V6 under the bonnet.
The next-generation 2023 Audi S4 Avant performance wagon has been spied testing in Europe, ahead of its anticipated launch next year.
Snapped in Europe’s Alps by Drive’s spy photography partners, the next S4 – in sedan and ‘Avant’ wagon forms – won’t stray too far from Audi’s usual formula, with sporty but restrained styling, a high-tech interior and a potent petrol engine under the bonnet.
Building on the standard A4 prototype spotted late last year, the mid-level S4 can be distinguished on this early test car by its four exhaust tips, a hallmark of Audi S cars.
The latest S4 prototype also features flush-faced, cut-out door handles akin to a BMW i4, rather than the traditional pull-out handles of the A4 seen last year. It’s unclear which design will reach production.
Expect full production S4s to score tweaked bumper designs, black or aluminium detailing and larger alloy wheels than base or S Line versions of the regular A4. This prototype’s circular tail-lights are temporary units installed for testing.
Inside, the new S4 borrows its squared-off steering wheel from Europe’s Q4 E-Tron electric car, which is placed in front of a freestanding instrument display, rather than the enclosed binnacle of current Audis.
Tucked behind a data logging screen installed by Audi engineers is what looks to be a tablet-style freestanding central touchscreen. The seats are trimmed in leather, with electric adjustment.
The centre console is more minimalist than today’s A4, with a conventional gear selector replaced by a rocker switch, akin to the A3 small car – placed alongside a pair of cupholders, a red-accented engine start button, and very few physical switches.
A photo under the bonnet shows no signs of high-voltage orange cables – suggesting the next S4 won’t be plug-in hybrid, though a lesser 48-volt mild-hybrid system can’t be ruled out, akin to a range of new Audi models.
If the engine cover is any guide, the new Audi S4 looks to retain a V6 engine – though, assuming it’s a petrol engine, it’s unclear if it’s the 260kW/500Nm 3.0-litre single-turbo unit in the current S4, or a detuned version of the RS4’s 331kW/600Nm 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6.
While the former is a possibility, it’s worth noting the S4 shares its platform with the Porsche Macan medium SUV, which recently ditched its 260kW/500Nm 3.0-litre V6 for a 280kW/520Nm version of the 2.9-litre V6 – so it’s possible the next-generation Audi mid-sizer might follow suit.
Audi will be alone in fitting a V6 to its mid-size, mid-tier performance car offering; the BMW M340i is powered by a turbocharged inline-six, while the latest Mercedes-AMG C43 has switched to a mild-hybrid turbo four-cylinder.
As reported last year, the next Audi A4 is rumoured to be available with a choice of traditional petrol and diesel engines – with mild or plug-in hybrid systems, and front- or all-wheel drive – plus a new A4 E-Tron electric option.
Whereas the petrol and diesel models are expected to carry over the current A4’s ‘MLB’ platform – albeit with “modifications” – the A4 E-Tron is set to employ Audi and Porsche’s new ‘PPE’ dedicated electric architecture.
Two RS4 performance flagships are slated to be offered; an MLB-based plug-in hybrid, pairing today’s 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 with electric motors for over 331kW and 600Nm, and a PPE-based, dual-motor electric model reportedly developing 350kW/800Nm.
Dimensions of the new ‘B10’ A4 are rumoured to remain similar to the current ‘B9’ A4 range. New technologies, however, are rumoured to include rear-wheel steering, near-field communication technology, adaptive dampers and Level 2 semi-autonomous driving capabilities.
With the standard 2023 Audi A4 slated to launch in Europe sometime next year, expect the performance S4 version to debut either towards the end of 2023, or early in 2024.
Australian launch plans are yet to be confirmed, though given Audi S and RS performance cars are historically strong sellers locally, it’s unlikely we will miss out on the new model.
Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines as a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.