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Which wagon is best, the new Subaru Outback or used Audi S4 Avant?

By Alex Inwood, 30 Aug 2020 Features

Which wagon is best, the new Subaru Outback or used Audi S4 Avant?

The latest and greatest in Japanese soft-roading or a performance wagon for the ages (and all the associated costs)?

We’ll begin with a congratulations. If you’re reading this then there’s a high chance you’re considering a wagon, and not an SUV, as your next purchase. Kudos.

Take that as a win for common sense and for understanding that a lower centre of gravity and tidier handling should always trump a high driving position.

But while that decision seems obvious, choosing between this pairing is actually quite tricky. Principally because they’re fundamentally quite different.

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The Subaru Outback we’re talking about here isn’t the car currently sitting in Subaru showrooms. This is the all-new sixth-generation model due to arrive Down Under either late this year or early 2021, depending on our production slot for right-hand-drive versions.

Built on the Subaru Global Platform (which also underpins the Forester, Impreza and XV), the new Outback is larger than before and has greater ground clearance and off-road cred, making it the clear choice if your family enjoys heading bush.

It’s also armed with Subaru’s full suite of EyeSight safety systems and, of course, it brings the peace of mind of having a five-year/unlimited km warranty.

Aussie details around engines (a 2.4-litre turbo four cylinder petrol and non-turbo 2.5-litre donk are offered in the US) and pricing are yet to be confirmed, so keep your eye out.

Read next: The Audi RS2 was a Porsche-developed wagon that slayed supercars

If, however, you’re a keen driver or you simply can’t afford to wait, then the Audi offers a tempting alternative.

The S4 was the sweet spot in the B8 A4 range and it remains a wicked sleeper thanks to a supercharged V6 with 245kW/440Nm.

The Avant was only offered for 2012-13 meaning good used examples are hard to find.

Read next: Do you really need an SUV?

Expect around 65,000km on the clock and given we’re well out of warranty be sure to have the seven-speed DSG checked by a professional.

A full service history should also be a priority. Grumbly brakes due to problematic calliper seals are common, so watch out for those, and insurance costs are high.

You’ll fork out $3750 a year to insure performance-focused the S4, compared to around $1350 for the Subaru. Servicing costs are almost double for the Audi, too. Ouch.


Engine: 2498cc flat-4, dohc, 16v

Max power: 135kW @ 5800rpm

Max torque: 238Nm @4400rpm

Transmission: CVT automatic

Weight: 1650kg (estimated)

0-100km/h: 8.5sec (estimated)

Economy: 7.4L/100km (estimated)


Engine: 2995cc V6, dohc, 36v, supercharged

Max power: 245kW @ 5500-7000rpm

Max torque: 440Nm @ 2900-5300rpm

Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch

Weight: 1750kg

0-100km/h: 5.1sec (claimed)

Economy: 9.4L/100km