Not long after the turn of the century its role was clear: it was Audi’s answer to the likes of the BMW M3 and AMG versions of the Mercedes C-Class, and to that end it enjoyed the memorable services of a mighty V8 motor under the bonnet.
Problem was the car wasn’t any good, and Audi knew that if it were to be taken seriously as a manufacturer of supercar-slaying compact family cars it would need not just a different approach but a different badge.
Audi could have just killed the S4, of course, but that would not have appealed to its sense of order and the fact that S versions were either planned or already existed for every other mainstream model in its line-up.
So instead of being beefed up even further, it was put on a diet. The V8 became a V6 and the car remarketed as a head and heart kind of machine, one still worth taking out on a Sunday morning but which was also sensible to live with day to day both in terms of general civility and running costs.