Perhaps it was part of a Christmas bonus for the employees, or a renegade draftsman who broke into his piggy bank in an act of selfless charity towards his fellow coworkers, but someone has gifted the designers in Ingolstadt a set of curved stencils. This is nowhere more evident than the seventh-generation of Audi’s B-chassis cars, first introduced to us as the mid-year 2005 A4 and now embodied in the 2006 S4 Wagon.
Gentle slopes and subtle contours permeate the front and rear of the new Audi S4. Once a smile-free bastion of Bauhaus influence, the 2005. 5 redesign adds much-needed levity to a car that, for generations, featured styling as rigid and inflexible as the German rail schedule. The new head and tail lamps are faired into the body work, and the S4 now bears Audi’s new corporate face: A large trapezoidal grille that, in further proof of how just badly designers at some other German brands have been mixing the grain with the grape, seems restrained and decorous when viewed alongside its contemporaries.
The body of the Audi is an object study in assembly quality. Panel gaps are obsessively uniform, and unions between bumpers and sheet metal are more perfectly matched than peanut butter and chocolate. A definition crease running down its flanks ties the stem to the stern and serves to equalize the wagon’s proportions. With its prominent front overhang and pert rear end, the S4 Avant could pass for Hollywood’s idealized stereotype of a hooker. And like Tinseltown trollops, the S4 Avant has a heart of pure gold.