THE AUDI S4 saloon looks stunning in the sunshine. There it gleams, with massive 18-inch alloy wheels and a 345-horse- power, 4.2-litre V8 engine under that compact body. And I'm itching to get my hands on its six-speed transmission and test that Quattro all-wheel drive. Add to that a gaggle of babes at the bus stop outside Sai Kung on a brilliant autumn morning and all is well with the world. So when you're handed the smart key to the S4, life couldn't get much better. The Audi S4 is like a BMW M3, but with Quattro all-wheel drive. The low nose and ground-hugging spoilers, plus its sleek exterior, suggest it's going 100km/h while it's standing still. Inside, I find all-leather Recaro seats front and rear, electrically adjustable for the driver. The angle of the three-spoke steering wheel can be altered, too, and the speedometer and tachometer dials are easily read on either side of the digital readout for the car systems. The fascia consists of a silvery carbon-fibre strip, coated with clear plastic, although I hope Audi will offer wood trim alternative. By now I am perfectly comfortable in the Recaro seat, seatbelt fastened, my left foot on the massive dead-pedal, my right on the accelerator, causing a rumble from the large, shiny dual pipes at the rear. Into gear and away I go, moving forward with a massive spurt of power. I snap-shift the manual box and there's a second surge of power before I brake for the first 90-degree corner. I approach the corner, I accelerate instead of braking. Magically, the car takes the sharp bend as if on rails. I try another corner, with the same effect and not even a squeal from the tyres. With a sharp left, we are howling uphill through the tall trees towards Toi Min Hui, shifting to third, then downhill and back to second for braking. At the seafront, I sling it around a dead-end traffic circle and head back up the road, taking a sharp left then a right into a parking lot, winding the steering wheel and pouring on the power for a U-turn. Then it's back to the street, a sharp left, another sharp left and - at last - I touch the brakes at a stop sign. Adrenaline is pouring into my blood stream - and I haven't even exceeded the speed limit. I rush uphill, then down and right onto the highway towards Tai Mong Tsai, passing the car showrooms, where every head turns to look, and on through the village, where more heads turn. The S4 is truly an eye-catcher. Out on the highway, I accelerate for every curve and the S4 seems to know exactly what I want. The steering is positive and as instant as the accelerator response. Think of turning - and you are turning. Suspension is firm, yet not sportscar jiggly. Manhole covers are heard rather than felt, although with the sunroof open and window halfway up, I notice a throaty burble from those big twin exhausts each time I accelerate. Then a sharp, brakeless turn off the highway brings us to the most glorious piece of tarmac in Hong Kong - the exact location of which remains my secret. Once a water road, with only a few houses along the way, it has been widened with two lanes, new bitumen and a clear white line along the centre. It has everything except traffic - and you can sometimes see three or four curves ahead. Paradise! Here, I'm testing suspension, road-holding, gear-shifting - and my ability to breath while adrenaline is flowing. I'm shifting between second and third every few seconds, but rarely braking. Imagine being on a roller-coaster, but one where you're in control. Abruptly we arrive at the end of the road, and come to a sudden but efficient, no-fuss stop. A three-point turn and we're hurtling back, swooping through those lovely turns, the wide tyres happily gripping the tarmac -and I have remind myself to breathe. Minutes later we're hurtling up a long hill, shifting from second to third to fourth and still getting fresh bursts of power each time - it would be easy to imagine hitting 160 km/h if the law permitted. At the top, a dab on the brake pedal, a hard acceleration around the curve and one more corner brings us to the end of the test course's Alpine section. Over the next hill and at 50 km/h, I hit the brakes as hard as possible. The S4 comes to a smart stop, but pulls six inches to the left. I blame it on camber and resolve to try again later. At Pak Tam Chung we find the handling superb, and during some complicated reversing discover that visibility is surprising good, especially in view of the relatively thick C and D pillars. In fact, the reverse parking is among the best I have found, not counting convertibles. If you hate parking, buy an S4. At this point, the man from Audi tells me what you get with an S4 that you would not find on the bread-and-butter A4. The specifications includes auto-dimming headlamps, traction control, trick sport suspension, a Bose audio system with 10 speakers and six-plus-six CD changers (that's two changers for six discs each). The S4 also comes with ground-effect-style side-skirts, 18-inch alloy wheels, carbon-fibre interior trim, manual privacy screen on rear windows and an automatic rear-window screen, auto-dimming interior mirrors and alloy exterior mirrors. And there's even a cool-box hidden at the back of the glovebox. Rear seats offer ample headroom, but merely adequate legroom. Heading home, I discover another side to the S4. Dawdling in fourth gear with the sunroof closed and windows up, we relax in comfort to a Mozart symphony, which blasts out magnificently through those 10 Bose speakers. With no traffic in sight, at 50 km/h, I do the brake test once more and the S4 stops sharp, with no pull to the right or left. Full marks! On the return to Sai Kung, two vehicles pull into passing places to let us by, and three others that are about to turn into the road wait to watch us pass. The S4 has that kind of presence. You can imagine the reluctance with which I hand back the smart key for the lovely S4 to the man from Audi. And as he speeds away, I even feel a twinge of jealously. TESTED: Audi S4. WHAT IS IT? A performance sports saloon. HOW MUCH? $660,000 as tested, loaded with options, including 10-speaker Bose audio. WHAT MOVES IT? All-wheel-drive, 4.2- litre, V-8 engine (the same as the Audi A8), providing 345 horsepower at 7,000 rpm, and 410 Nm of torque at 3,500 rpm, coupled to a six-speed manual, drive-by-wire shifter. HOW FAST? Zero to 100 km/h in 5.6 seconds. Top speed limited to 250 km/h. HOW THIRSTY? Combined urban/rural consumption: 13.4 litres per 100 km. SAFETY FEATURES: Ten airbags plus side guard, anti-lock braking system, electronic brake distribution, traction control, electronic differential lock and electronic stability programme. ALTERNATIVES: Only the BMW M3, at around $700,000, but the mighty S4 has Quattro.