When the Audi 100 S station wagon arrived in the driveway, Twin No. 1 ran to the garage and brought back a 5-gallon jug.

"If you are going to drive that car for any length of time you'll be needing this," she said, handing us a potion with a haunting aroma that quickly brought back memories of high school biology class.


"And please park down the block," she begged.

Teenagers don't always fully appreciate function over form, practicality over performance.

Until this year Audi offered only an all-wheel drive, or Quattro, wagon aimed at providing road-holding security for those who have to venture onto highways in slime and slop. But since the Quattro carries a $47,020 price tag,the automaker chose to come out with a less expensive front-wheel-drive 100 S wagon companion for the Quattro for 1994. The 100 S has a little less pavement-hugging capability but a window sticker that starts at $38,070.

Of course, anyone with $38,000-$47,000 burning a hole in pocket or purse who opts for a station wagon doesn't have both oars in the water to begin with. But the act of kindness by Audi to save these people $9,000 is admirablenonetheless.

The 100 S wagon is functional and practical. It has two rows of seats thathold five adults, plus a fold-down, rear-facing jump seat to accommodate a couple of kids. Since it is a wagon, you can load it with many people, or a few people and a lot of luggage, and/or groceries and/or golf clubs, so as notto mess up your regular Audi sedan or coupe on weekend ventures.

The wagon is equipped with dual air bags and four-wheel antilock brakes, but doesn't offer traction control.

The wagon is powered buy a 2.8-liter, 172-horsepower V-6 teamed with 4-speed automatic and rated at 18 miles per gallon city/23 highway. Audi says the 2.8 V-6 was designed specifically for low-end pulling power to tote a vehicle full of folks and their supplies from the light without strain. We found, however, that the V-6 had a tendency to hesitate a fraction of a secondbefore breaking into a trot when the gas pedal is pressed hard. The wagon's 3,600-pound curb weight was a factor. Speed-sensitive power steering helps make that poundage feel less heavy.

While Audi can be proud of equipping the wagon for safety, there was one design flaw that defeated its intentions-high-mounted head restraints at all four main seating stations that partially blocked rear and side vision. Slimmer head rests are needed.

One neat feature, however, is the power sunroof. Rather than push and hold a button as you wait for the top to motor back as far as desired, you simply twist a switch to one of several settings, let go, and the top motors on its own until it stops at the pre-programmed distance. It keeps your hands on the wheel where they belong. To close the top you simply turn the switch and let go, and it closes tight.

Cloth seats are preferred over leat her because they're cooler in the summerand warmer in the winter. If you get the optional weather package ($480), the seats can be heated by flicking a switch. Door locks and window-washer nozzlesalso are heated.

Our test vehicle was based at $38,070. The weather package added $480, the Bose sound system $600. Freight is $445.

Standard equipment includes chlorofluorocarbon-free air conditioning, tinted glass, electric rear-window defogger, cruise control, power brakes/steering/windows/door locks/driver's seat and mirrors (with defogger), 15-inch all-season tires, galvanized sheet metal, bodyside moldings, 5 m.p.h. bumpers, leather-wrapped tilt and telescoping steering wheel, trip odometer, outside temperature gauge, illuminated vanity mirrors, retained accessory power so you can open/close windows/sunroof after you turn off the ignition key and carpeted floor mats.

Audi also provides three-year/50,000-mile no-charge scheduled maintenance, three-year/50,000 -mile limited warranty, 10-year limited warranty against corrosion perforation and three-year roadside assistance.