October 2nd, 2003, 18:00
Just test drove a S4 avant with a little over 200 miles on it. The wife drove first and had no problems with the clutch. I found the seats more to my liking than those in the RS6. I found the ride much more comfortable than an M3. The suspension is softer than my RS6. It's a fun ride with good road feel. Now for the bad news. I took over the driving and all was going very well till the first stop light. The car is still in the breakin period so I gave it about 3/4 throttle and raised the clutch quickly to avoid feathering it and doing any damage. The result - the car just stood there and reved up to about 6k rpm. I then put it into second and eased down on the gas and finally took off. I thought I had just missed the gear and proceeded to the next stop light. The same thing happened at the next light and I could barely get it to move in second gear. The clutch plate was fried. Smell and smoke! The one time the wife was in first gear she's more conservative than I am and she eases the clutch out and eased the gas pedal down - no problems. I have a lot of experience with manual transmissions so I know how to use a clutch properly. I'm convinced that a previous test driver had already scoured the clutch plate and all it took was my application of a little extra throttle to finish the job. The car was great except for this subpar clutch assembly. IMO this kind of damage should normally appear when someone is continously riding or feathering a clutch with significant throttle application. This should never happen in a car with only 200 miles on the odometer.