2017 audi s4 reviews

2017 audi s4 reviews DEFAULT

Audi S4 First Test: So Quick! But…

What do you really want from your luxury sport sedan?

Audi S4 Full Overview

Four-cylinder engines aren't what they used to be—they're way, way better. And considering the goodness of the A4 T's hp turbo-four, the new turbo-six-powered S4 must work harder than ever before to justify its premium over the mainstream A4 that slipped by every other car in mph acceleration during our huge Big Test comparison of compact luxury sport sedans. The Audi S4's upgrades go deeper than just a powerful six-cylinder engine, and we tested the more performance-focused sedan to see how it compares to rivals from BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti and, well, Audi in the form of our long-term A4.

I've spent many months and thousands of miles with our long-term A4, a model with a liter turbo-four making hp and lb-ft of torque. On paper, it doesn't sound impressive, but the engine is hooked up to a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission and Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system. The car is always responsive, and even when I'm in a lead-footed mood, I have never felt like I needed more power. The thing is, the Mercedes-AMG C43, Infiniti Q50 Red Sport , and others are just as much about emotional wants as they are about practical needs. The S4 adds style, status, and power to the A4's strong overall package.

Under the S4's hood is a liter turbo-six that produces hp and lb-ft. Unlike my long-term A4, the S4 gets a conventional eight-speed automatic, and its all-wheel-drive system is biased 40/60 front/rear. Our loaded S4 tester included a $2, S sport package that adds red brake calipers, a sport-focused adaptive suspension, and a rear differential. The adaptive suspension is definitely harsher than my A4, which uses a now-discontinued comfort-oriented version of Audi's adaptive suspension, but the S4's system is still everyday-livable. The rear differential can send nearly all of the S4's torque to one of the rear wheels, if necessary, to keep you moving in the right direction if you accelerate quickly out of a corner (you might feel the effect occasionally if you're looking for it). I most appreciated the adaptive suspension and red brake calipers, but the value of that package will depend on how hard you plan on driving your car.

Really, the same can be said about the S4, as a whole, especially if you're also considering a loaded A4. One S4 advantage, not surprisingly, is acceleration. The S4 hits 60 mph from a stop in just seconds, reaching that benchmark speed a full second ahead of our already-quick A4 long-termer. That second time ties that of an all-wheel-drive Mercedes-AMG C43 we've tested and is three-tenths of a second quicker than a rear-drive Infiniti Q50 Red Sport The last-gen S4, which was powered by a supercharged liter V-6, reached 60 in seconds.

Launching an A4 will pin you to the back of your seat, and the S4 adds to that appeal. When it comes to the sound, however, there's no comparison. The S4's engine note sounds more muscular than the hp A4, yet it's more subdued than the C Listen closely in the S4's Sport mode, and you might be able to make out a crackle from those wonderful quad-exhaust outlets.

"Fairly subtle exhaust note," said road test editor Chris Walton after driving the S4 at the track, "and as quick as anyone would ever need, but it's such a sleeper—too much of a sleeper maybe."

For those who dig styling that's sporty but doesn't shout, the S4 will be a good fit. The four exhaust outlets, silver side-mirror trim, and subtle lip spoiler communicate that the sedan is an S4, as do the available red brake calipers on our $ tester.

The brakes themselves stopped effectively in mph tests, with a foot performance that was 22 feet better than our long-term A4 and also shorter than the C43 ( feet) and Q50 Red Sport ( feet), though an all-wheel-drive Kia Stinger GT matched the S4 here. Where the S4 pulled away from that heavier and slightly slower Kia as well as everything else in its class except the Mercedes is on our figure-eight course. This Motor Trend test tracks different driving characteristics including acceleration, braking, cornering, and the transitions between them. The S4 put in a time of seconds at average g, well ahead of the Q50 Red Sport 's seconds at average g and the C43 4Matic's seconds at average g. Although not really in the same class of acceleration as those cars, the Stinger GT AWD turned in a time of seconds at average g, and our long-term A4 clocked in at seconds at average g.

Testing director Kim Reynolds called the S4 a "heck of a car" and appreciated that, on the figure-eight course, the Audi had good body motion control: "What I like here is how you can rotate it and slightly drift the tail out on exit," he said. "It turns-in well (not great, but well enough), but then you can adjust it with throttle."

That's helpful info on a sporty car like this, especially if you plan on tracking your S4. Even so, this isn't a full performance sedan such as the C63 or the RS 4 model sold in other markets, so if most of your driving involves trudging along in traffic to work, you'll appreciate the S4's sharp interior. The $ carbon-fiber trim looks great, as does the Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster and the crisp graphics on the head-up display. I also find Audi's MMI infotainment system easy to use, though it can initially take a little time to find semihidden control pages such as the one to customize the dual-color interior ambient lighting as well as the page that updates the custom drive mode, changing everything from the loudness of the engine to the tuning of the engine, steering, and suspension. It's a great interior in which to spend a commute, and the sport seats with diamond stitching are a huge upgrade in feel and comfort over the base seats in our $52, A4 long-termer.

One minor issue we noticed in our tester that needs an immediate update if it affects all S4s—the engine stop/start system has a nasty habit of sometimes turning the engine off mph before the car has actually come to a complete stop. I tend to use engine stop/start systems more than the average Motor Trend staffer, but even I turned off the S4's system on our tester.

After you press the button to turn off the engine stop/start system, you're left with a well-rounded car, just like the less powerful but still quick A4. The S4 is fun to drive, though it's not quite as connected to the road as the Cadillac ATS and Jaguar XE. What prevents me from recommending those cars are their rear seats, which are among the most cramped in the class. Then there's the turbo-four-powered version of the Alfa Romeo Giulia, an entertaining car that lacks a direct S4/C43 competitor. Plus, the all-wheel-drive version of the Italian sedan is more than a second slower to 60 than those cars.

When you want a very quick compact luxury sport sedan instead of a moderately equipped midsizer like everyone else, the C43 presents the biggest threat to the S4. If the S4 is too subtle for you, consider the more showy Mercedes. The Head 2 Head winner will probably be more expensive once you add all the options you want, but it's attractive and—for better or worse—louder.

If you're seeking sportiness more than straight-line acceleration, consider the S4 or the C But where does that leave the A4's class-leading acceleration?

I asked online editor Alex Nishimoto his thoughts on the A4/A5 versus S4/S5 question because he reviewed the A5 and S5 Sportback models last year. "Although I could certainly live with the A4's turbo liter," he said, "if I was splurging on a luxury sport sedan I'd most likely be seduced by the S4's addictive thrust. The turbocharged V-6 just accelerates effortlessly—even when you punch it at cruising speed—and having that extra fun on tap would be worth the price premium for me."

For me, as much as I'd miss taking on my favorite driving road in sport seats that massage me (standard on the S4), I wouldn't get the S4, A4, or even the C The A5 Sportback is the car I'd drive. Arguably more beautiful than any car mentioned above, the A5 Sportback would still be quick when you need it but also efficient when you don't. The car will spend more miles on the road between fill-ups, and even though I'd long for the sound of an S4/S5 or C43 engine, the money I'd save (as much as $5, or more depending on options) might just make that compromise worth it.

So if you go S4, enjoy the added punch the turbo-six engine provides—you'll be driving one of the quickest sedans around. Thanks to my thousands of miles in an A4, however, I'd put the A5 Sportback at the top of my list. The turbo-four engine provides plenty of oomph, and the hatchback boasts way more curb appeal than a stylish but subtle A4/S4 will ever have.

Looks good! More details?
Audi S4
BASE PRICE $52,
PRICE AS TESTED $65,
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 4-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE L/hp/lb-ft turbo DOHC valve V-6
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3, lb (57/43%)
WHEELBASE in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT x x in
MPH sec
QUARTER MILE sec @ mph
BRAKING, MPH ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT sec @ g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 21/30/24 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY / kW-hrs/ miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB lb/mile
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Audi S4 review

The Audi S4 might be the ultimate Q-car: fast, high-tech and understated, it's everything the badge demands and more.

  • Superb cabin design
  • cheaper than ever
  • brimming with technology
  • smooth and powerful drivetrain
  • overall interior refinement and quietude
  • New engine lacks the old supercharged six-pot's 'character', for want of a better word
  • optional Performance pack seats look great, but offer minimal support
Audi S4 9




Whether in sedan or Avant wagon guise, the Audi S4 is the mid-sized luxury car you buy when you want something fast and brimming with technology, but don’t want to shout about it.

That’s the corporate line, anyway. But as our time behind the wheel on the Australian launch earlier this week showed us, it fits the car like a sports jacket and designer frames.

Based on the well-regarded B9 Audi A4 sedan and wagon (Avant in Audi-speak), the S4 adds a powerful new turbocharged six-pot engine, quattro all-wheel drive, and most high-tech infotainment and active safety options under the sun as standard.

All of this is packaged in an understated design given the barest hint of menace by quad-pipes, inch wheels and pared-back bumpers and rear diffuser. People will look, but they won’t stop and gawk, which is what the four-generation old S4 has always been about.

Rivals follow a similar path. These are principally the Mercedes-AMG C43 and the BMW i (the latter is sedan-only here). But unlike this pair, the S4 is currently the performance leader of the B9 A4 range, until a new RS4 lobs (overseas) this year, probably bringing fat haunches and a screaming exhaust into the picture.

What's perhaps most impressive about the S4, though, is the pricing. At $99, plus on-road costs, it's the first car to wear the badge publicly priced under $k, and is more than $ cheaper than the car it replaces (which, we'd add, was discounted from a launch price of $,), despite adding $12, worth of equipment. The Avant is $ more at $,



As such, the new S4's entry price is $ cheaper than the Mercedes-AMG C43, thus representing what appears to be excellent value for this part of the market.

There’s almost nothing carried over from the old S4, given this one sits on a new platform, but perhaps the most symbolic change is the heart. The old car rocked a mechanically-supercharged six, but the new one follows the current trend and uses a turbocharger instead. More efficient, yes. But less characterful? Certainly less distinctive.

The partially aluminium, compact litre TFSI engine has a wide degree layout so the turbocharger can be mounted between the cylinder banks. The exhaust side is on the inner side of the cylinder heads and the intake side on the outer, reducing flow losses and lag.

Audi's outputs are kW of power (between and rpm) and Nm of torque (between and rpm) – 15kW/60Nm up on the B8 iteration. This compares to kW/Nm for the C43 AMG's twin-turbo V6 and kW/Nm for the BMW i's turbo inline-six.

The claimed zero to km/h sprint times are down a few tenths to sec (sedan, matching the Mercedes-AMG) and sec (Avant), while combined-cycle 98 RON fuel consumption of litres per km is also five per cent better than before, thanks in part to a fuel-saving coasting function.

The performance gains aren’t just down to the new engine, but also to the car’s 75kg lighter kerb weight, thanks to the 14kg lighter powertrain, aluminium suspension components and even magnesium seat and steering wheel frames. A gram is a gram.

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Gone too is the old S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission, replaced by an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox with torque converter, with paddle-shifters for the manual override. There's no manual. Tiptronics aren't capable of a DCT's rolling precision and rapid multiple downshifts, but they tend to be smoother in daily driving.

The familiar quattro mechanical AWD system generally sends 60 per cent of torque to the rear axle, but can apportion up to 85 per cent if the car’s sensors detect loss of traction. It can also direct 70 per cent to the front axle. The AWD layout matches the C43, and promises more traction than the rear-drive Bimmer.

So how does the S4 drive? Beautifully, to a fault. The engine hustles car along in an unfussed but deceptively quick manner, with an extremely wide peak torque brand giving you almost immediate and sustained throttle response, while the gearbox feels about as perceptive and quick-shifting (in manual mode) as BMW's benchmark ZF 8AT.

What's missing is character. Even in the car's sports mode, which also gives you stiffer damping, sharper steering, a remapped throttle and revised gearbox shift points, the engine lacks the AMG's visceral appeal. Its note is crisp and its response keen, but despite the barest hint of a supercharger-esque whine, it all feels a touch anodyne.

Of course, Audi argues this pared-back spirit is precisely in character, and it's right. The S4 isn't supposed to shout, so we're not going to punish the car without this caveat.

The flipside of the sport mode is Audi's comfort setting takes some resistance out of the damping to isolate the cabin better from sharp hits, and some weight out of the steering. It's an incredibly composed and relaxing daily driver that can be punted in anger after hours. There are also Auto and configurable Individual modes.



Dynamically the S4 has much more resolved steering than the bigger A6 with more road feel, as well as a really well balanced chassis that rewards hard driving, though it's never quite as nimble as the i. You can pay $ for a steering system with a variable ratio depending on speed and inputs, but we wouldn't bother.

The quattro system has ample grip, but those after a more rear-drive-like dynamic might well option the new-design quattro sport mechanical rear differential which controls rear axle torque inputs side-to-side, aiding turn-in and removing any tendency for scrub understeer if you push too hard. It's $, and we'd recommend it.

The other main improvement is the S4's refinement. As we reported, even the base sub-$60k A4 models insulate passengers from wind and road noise really well, and the S4 (despite sitting on thin Hankook rubber wrapping the inch wheels) follows suit. At freeway speeds on B-roads you can chat to rear occupants in a whisper.

As a refined and relaxing daily driver with ample grip and acceleration when desired, the S4 is about as perfect as you can get. It lacks a certain subjective 'something' known as character, but this highly technical nature is kind of Audi's raison d'être. Vorsprung and all that

Even more impressive than the way the S4 drives is the interior design, which is contemporary and supremely well constructed. At the same time, its looks are scarcely different to the base A4 that is about $40, cheaper, aside from the inch configurable Virtual Cockpit digital driver instruments with three display modes, which remains spectacular.

In terms of standard equipment, the S4 follows the lead set by Mercedes-Benz, by adding substantially more equipment than was once traditional for luxury players. Beyond the aforementioned adjustable dampers and Virtual cockpit, you get:



Adaptive LED headlights, auto park assist, a degree camera, privacy glass with sound-deadening in the front, keyless access and start, leather/Alcantara heated memory seats, a flat-bottom wheel with configurable shortcut button, three-zone climate control with rear digital display, selectable ambient cabin lighting (30 shades) and illuminated door sill trims.

Infotainment comprises a screen controlled by the familiar rotary dial rather than touch, with integrated satellite-navigation, a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to eight devices, Google Services satellite image overlays (powered by a regular data SIM), DAB+, natural language voice control, a w/speaker sound system with subwoofer, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connections.

The Avant has an electric hands-free aluminium tailgate with kick-operation, and a retracting electric luggage cover.

Beyond this, Audi says “every single available safety assist system that is offered, is standard in Australia”.

There are in fact 29 safety assistance systems cited, a claimed best-in-class, including a really cool exit warning that stops you ‘door-ing’ passing bikes, radar cruise with traffic-jam assist that looks 60 metres ahead rather than just mirroring the vehicle you're behind, and a turn assist system that brakes if it senses you’re crossing the street in a gap that’s too tight.

This is added to other tech such as Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection and radar-guided cruise control that stops to zero and starts again in gridlock when desired. The larger and pricier Mercedes-Benz E-Class range offers comparable, and in some instances superior, partial autonomy, but the Audi's tech is impressive.



Naturally, there are options. The $ Technik pack gives you Audi's Matrix LED headlights (from the R8 supercar), a head-up display with a dial next to the steering wheel to adjust brightness and height (no digging through sub-menus) and a speaker/w Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system with  channel amp that's nothing short of brilliant.

Meanwhile the $ Performance pack (as shown in the pictures, from our drive) adds one-piece seats trimmed in red or black Nappa leather and with a diamond stitch pattern, plus pneumatic bolsters and multi-mode massage functions for front occupants, sexy carbon-fibre cabin trimming and red brake calipers.

We'd eschew this pack, because the seats lack suitable headrest adjustment for tall drivers unlike the basic leather and suede units, and instead just fork over $ for those carbon Atlas inlays.

Metallic or pearlescent paint also costs $ before taxes, meaning anything other than basic black or white hues will cost quite a bit extra. Gotland green and Misano red are unusually edgy for Audi, in particular. The sedan can have a sunroof for $, though you can't get it on the Avant.

The cabin is impressively spacious, and rear occupants get digital climate control adjustment. Luggage capacity for the sedan is a class-par L (L with the seats folded), while the Avant offers L/L, loaded to the roof. The vast majority of previous S4 buyers chose the sedan, but we reckon you'd be better off with the wagon.

In short, the new and better-value Audi S4 does everything it ought to do brilliantly. It's comfortable yet quick, understated yet handsome, and brimming with an impressive array of technology. There are few finer ways to drop a little over $k (plus on-road costs and taxes).



Finding fault on a single-day launch program proved especially difficult, though we'll report back after living with one for a week. Perhaps we'll even test one against a Mercedes-AMG C

Sours: https://www.drive.com.au/reviews/audi-s4-review-sedan-and-avant/
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Even after it lost its liter V-8, the Audi S4 was kind of old-school—or rather, it was proof that seemingly old-fashioned technology could still provide outstanding results. Powered by a supercharged liter V-6 and available with an honest-to-God six-speed manual, the wilder version of the Audi A4 proved the virtue of following the old rules. But for the model year, the S4 takes a leap into the modern age: At the Frankfurt auto show, Audi has launched the latest version, and it’s fitted with a direct-injected, turbocharged liter V

The engine is the first of an entirely new, turbocharged engine generation that will replace the current V-6 engine, which is boosted by an Eaton TVS supercharger. In the S4, the new powerplant is rated at horsepower, 21 more than offered by the supercharged six. Maximum torque is lb-ft, available from to rpm. By comparison, the supercharged model’s torque peak of lb-ft was available from to rpm. The sprint from zero to 62 mph now takes seconds according to Audi (we got from the outgoing car with a six-speed manual), and top speed is governed at the obligatory mph.

The turbo engine’s extra torque is the reason why Audi is switching from the current model's seven-speed dual-clutch transmission to an eight-speed, torque-converter automatic. A six-speed manual might still be offered, but we wouldn't hold our breath. Audi, like many automakers, has been dropping its manual transmissions, the latest victim being its own R8 supercar.

Even so, we suspect the S4 still will be an extremely agile and fun-to-drive car. Naturally, it comes standard with Quattro all-wheel drive, with a default torque distribution of front to rear, and the system can send as much as 70 percent to the front or 85 percent to the rear. /40 tires on inch wheels are standard. The S4 sits inch lower than the standard A4, and it comes standard with a sport suspension and continuous damping control (CDC). Speed-dependent variable steering is optional. The claimed curb weight, thanks to the new MLB Evo architecture, is a relatively low pounds; the previous-gen model we tested weighed pounds even.

The S4 is differentiated from the regular A4 by the typical "S" aesthetic accouterments, which includes a unique front fascia, aluminum-look mirror caps, new side skirts, and a rear bumper punctuated by four exhaust tips. Inside, there are leather-and-microfiber high-backed sports seats (in black, gray, or “Magma Red”), and there is, of course, available carbon-fiber trim. The A4’s virtual instrument cluster adds an S4-specific “Sport” view that displays a tachometer at the center.

We expect the Audi S4 will come to market by mid as a model; in Europe it will be offered both as a sedan and as an Avant (sigh). In the States, it will be a sedan-only, and it will go up against the hp BMW i and the hp Mercedes-Benz C AMG. Prices should start around $50,

TIM ANDREW, THE MANUFACTURER

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Audi S4 (B9) review () – turbocharged V6 a quiet operative

Understated almost to the point of anonymity, the S4 is the mid-level performance version of the Audi A4 saloon. Swapping between twin-turbocharged, supercharged V6 and even a naturally aspirated V8 engine in times gone by, the B9 S4 returned to a single-turbocharged 3-litre V6, combined with an eight-speed automatic transmission and the ubiquitous quattro all-wheel drive.

That, however, is about to change, as the S4’s successor will eschew its petrol V6 for the new mild-hybrid V6 diesel for the first time. The petrol S4 isn’t leaving behind an empty market niche either, as both the Mercedes-AMG C43, and in the near future BMW’s all-new G20 Mi, will fill the void.

> Click here for our review of the Mercedes-AMG C43

The petrol S4’s combination of a smooth, punchy, petrol powertrain, svelte styling and exceptional build quality still make it a desirable mid-level performance saloon though, and has left a sizable void for the new S4 TDI to fill.

Engine, performance and time

The previous S4’s 3-litre single-turbo petrol V6 is one still used throughout the Audi range. Available in A6, A7 and A8 models, not to mention in various Porsches and even Bentley’s plug-in hybrid Bentayga, it’s a refined, if not particularly sporty unit. In the B9 S4, it’s good for bhp at rpm and lb ft from to rpm.

Performance is about where one might expect, with both saloon and estate slipping under the sec to 62mph barrier ( and sec respectively). Top speed is a limited mph. It may lack the exotic flare of a naturally aspirated V8, and the instant punch of the previous B8 S4’s supercharged V6, but the unit here finds a more artful balance between brisk performance and not being able to achieve more than 30mpg on any given day.

Technical highlights

The biggest news on the B9 S4’s launch was the switch from supercharged to turbocharged technology, plus the adoption of an eight-speed automatic gearbox instead of the previous car’s dual-clutch S-tronic transmission. The S4 and S4 Avant are around 75kg less than the previous S4s too, at and kg respectively.

The S4 is, of course, underpinned by a four-wheel-drive chassis. Under normal circumstances power is split 40/60 front to rear, but up to 70 per cent of power can go to the front axle or 85 per cent to the rear should conditions demand it. The active torque vectoring ‘sport differential’ for the rear axle remains an option at around £ and the new S4 also lightly brakes the inside wheels during hard cornering to create a more agile feeling. Also on the options list is Continuous Damper Control, which features Comfort, Auto and Dynamic settings, and the variable-ratio Dynamic Steering system.

What’s it like to drive?

The first thing that strikes you about the S4 is how refined it is. Our car is fully loaded with inch wheels, Continuous Damper Control and the clever sport differential. It rides beautifully in Comfort mode and on our admittedly smooth-surfaced test route, Dynamic mode does little to ruffle the fluid composure of the car. Allied to the almost invisible eight-speed automatic and instantly responsive engine, the S4 makes effortless progress.

The dynamic steering system is worlds better than before, but still has an initial jumpiness that feels slightly odd and it’s so light that you don’t feel there’s a real connection to the front wheels. Having said that it takes only a few minutes to adapt to that and the rate of response feels much more natural and consistent than those hateful early systems. I’m still not sold on the whole concept but I’ll admit it’s not a huge issue in this car.

As for the chassis, it’s partly brilliant and partly disappointing. The ride really is fluid and allows you to build up a nice, easy rhythm, and whilst there’s quite a bit of body roll the car has a sense of effortless control that seems to fit with its easy-going but impressive turn of speed. The balance is also pretty good. Of course, it can be made to understeer if you don’t listen to the howling tyres (it comes as standard with Hankooks, which are brilliant in the wet but lack response and mid-corner grip in the dry), but if you turn the car in slightly slower and then commit to the throttle you feel the sport diff sending power to the outside rear tyre. As the corner unfolds a small yaw angle builds and then stabilises, so you exit each corner with the car driving forwards but held in a shallow oversteering angle. It’s actually a really cool sensation.

The only problem is that the S4 feels slightly too soft-edged. The chassis is clearly very well sorted, the balance with the sport diff is adjustable and not relentlessly understeery, but the weight savings advertised don’t really make themselves felt. Instead of feeling lithe and agile the S4 too often feels like you’re coercing it into revealing its sportier side. I’m not suggesting it should be crashy and edgy, but a small increase in body control and turn-in response, a bit more volume for the exhaust and sharper gearshifts would transform the car. At the moment is feels too often just like a ‘normal’ A4 that just happens to have a load more performance, rather than a true performance derivative. It should be said that the S4 saloon is tangibly more agile than the Avant model and feels slightly keener to entertain.

It’s always tempting to suggest that the estate version of any fast Audi is the one to have. Audi has such a rich heritage in fast estates, from the Porsche-engineered RS2 to original RS4 and now with the massively potent RS6 Avant. However, in the case of the S4 the five-door version isn’t quite as much fun as the saloon. The weight difference isn’t huge at 45kg ( versus kg) but you can definitely feel it. It’s slightly slower to change direction and although we’re talking small degrees here, the saloon car just has cleaner reactions and a slight advantage in terms of agility.

Of course, the Avant has its advantages. It’s just as understated as the saloon but has that estate car cool that fits nicely with the discreet nature of the S4, and it’s, um, got a bigger boot. I suspect the former might be what swings it for many buyers and I can hardly blame them. However, if you want the very best S4 in dynamic terms you should stick to the saloon car. It’s tangibly sharper and feels keener to be driven with enthusiasm.

Price and rivals

The B9 S4 was taken off-sale during the sweeping WLTP reforms that forced many models to do the same at the end of Rather than go through the motions of re-certifying a new petrol version before the A4’s range-wide update, Audi has instead left it off-sale until the facelifted version arrives with, as mentioned before, a high-performance V6 diesel engine.  

> Click here to read our review of the Mercedes-AMG C43

If you’re still interested in a compact executive with a potent petrol six-cylinder engine, both Mercedes and BMW are more than willing. The Mercedes-AMG C43 has just undergone a recent refresh, helping keep the ageing C-class up to date thanks to some interior styling changes. The C43 is no halfway-house performance car on the road either, with an impressive combination of outright punch and theatre from its 3-litre turbocharged V6 engine. It drives well too, with a more discernible edge to its dynamic package.

BMW’s incoming Mi M Performance model will also lay claim to this battleground, powered here with a bhp 3-litre turbocharged in-line six borrowed from the X3 M40i. UK prices and final specifications have yet to be revealed, but should fall in line with the C43 at around £50k.

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S4 2017 reviews audi

Audi S4 First Drive

For all its power and easy performance, the best thing about the last Audi S4was its uncanny ability to act like a normal (but very high-spec) A4for most of its life. Then, when you needed or wanted a bit more speed or a bit more grip, you pushed a button or opened the tap and it became something else. It became a thing with more grip, more poise, more focus, and more gristle, but the changeover between the two S4characters was seamless.

That doesn't seem to be the case with the new one. The latest, B9 A4 has been well received and is probably the best mid-sized premium car out there, so that should have left the S4 a simple job to become the best warmed-up premium mid-sizer.

It hasn't quite happened like that. The spec sheet suggests the S4 should come out on top in the fight with the BMWi and the Mercedes-AMG C43, but the numbers aren't everything. The engine seems impressive on paper; the all-new EA liter turbocharged V6 was jointly developed with Porsche(and it's closely related to Porsche's next V8, with which it will share non-internal bits like the camshaft chain).

 Audi S4 Audi S4 Audi S4 Audi S4

The degree V6 weighs 31 pounds less than the old S4's supercharged V6, and it's replete with variable valve timing and lift, centrally mounted fuel injectors, and both direct and indirect fuel injection. That gives it horsepower at rpm (up percent) and pound-feet of torque from 1, to 4, rpm. That gives it a peak 44 lb-ft higher than the old one, spread across a band revs broader. At 2, rpm, where drivers live every traffic light, it has another 74 pound-feet.

That's enough motivation to move to 62 mph in seconds. There's a new all-wheel-drive system that usually shoots 60 percent of the torque to the back but can ramp that up to 85 percent when it needs to, or it can swing it around to fire more than 70 percent to the front axle.

The category benchmarks suggest turbocharged liter gasoline sixes are the thing to have, with the Mercedes-AMG C43 using one, the i BMW having one (though it's straight), and Maserati's Ghiblialso using one. The oddball is Jaguar's XES, which uses a supercharger. You know, like Audijust ditched. The S4 trumps all but the C43 on power (the nine-speed Benz has hp). While it ties the Ghiblifor torque, it again trails the Benz (by 15 lb-ft) though its torque peak hits far earlier (the Benz waits until 2, rpm). Still, the S4 ties the Benz for the 0–mph sprint and comfortably has the measure of the others, with the BMW and Jaguarboth doing it in seconds.

 Audi S4

There is one piece of technology in the S4 that muddies the waters for anybody trying to pin down what it's all about. This performance model doesn't use a dual-clutch transmission anymore, and there isn't even the option of a manual gearbox. Instead, it uses an eight-speed automatic transmission and onlyan eight-speed automatic transmission from ZF.

The S4 has always delivered its performance with understated looks, and Audi spent a lot of time and effort to create even more understatement here. The styling is little changed from the stock A4 – only plastic pieces are touched, leaving the expensive metal stampings alone. It has the usual S-model matte-alloy-looking mirror caps, a slightly tweaked single-frame grill with faux-metal slats, wider sills, and oval tailpipes. With its standard sports suspension, the S4 rides inch lower than a normal A4.

The interior starts from the B9 A4's happy place and builds on it nicely, with classy sports seats that are brilliant in bends and supportive on long hauls. The flat-bottomed steering wheel's adjustment is generous, helping make the S4's cockpit an easy place to get comfortable, quickly. Besides the standard Virtual Cockpit, the S4 also has the fixed inch center multimedia screen from the stock A4 and the latest levels of Audi connectivity.

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The S4 gives everybody inside it a feeling of calm, the assurance of unseen technical strength, and most will be able to adjust or change anything without ever reading an instruction. The rear seats deliver plenty of leg, head, and shoulder room. That covers what you notice before starting the engine.
Right from startup, the V6 feels phenomenally strong on in-gear acceleration. It gives you the impression that any old gear will be just fine, thanks very much. The torque arrives outrageously early and, with the security of all-wheel drive, means you can mash the gas anytime, anywhere, as hard as you like and expect to be propelled forward with uncomplicated authority. The engine's reaction to any request is about as fast as with the old V6, but it feels far stronger low down and doesn't suffer in any way up high.

The issue we have with the engine isn't its performance, which is more than enough at every point of the rev range and makes overtaking a snap. It's the noise. The new turbo V6 can be loud in its Dynamic mode, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's nice, or that you'll want to hear it over and over, just to remind yourself what you paid for. Tone, depth, and metallic resonance change until it becomes just plain noise at the 6,rpm limiter, without never becoming particularly pleasant. If you were buying purely on engine note in this class, you'd walk straight past the S4 and on to BMW's i.

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Fortunately, any powertrain negatives are almost completely cancelled out by the transmission. It is simply brilliant, whether you leave it to do all the thinking for itself or provoke it with the standard paddle shifters. This is one of the fastest-reacting automatics out there, biting hard into the self-shifting software advantage BMW has held for half a generation. The computers throw in a little exhaust crackle on full-throttle upshifts, while downshifts are aggressive when you're in Dynamic mode and almost imperceptible otherwise.

Perhaps the main area we struggled with was that while the old car was a perfect example of the best of the A4 with a bit more performance, this one has even more top-end purpose but is slightly less good at being an A4. That's partly because the lowered suspension robs the car of some harshness-absorbing travel. You initially feel sharp stuff before the damping works to smooth things out. This gives the impression that the dampers are trying to be all things in all conditions, while the springs are more targeted, leaving the two things working in harmony only in fairly defined circumstances. The S4's electro-mechanical steering is very quick and direct, but it never shines, never feeds the driver much information or entertainment, even on the optional /35 R19 Hankooks we had on our test car.

The upshot is that the latest S4 is not a massively involving car to drive, slowly or quickly. It doesn't engage the driver and never feels warm to the touch, never invites the driver to push that bit further, and while it has big bundles of speed and grip reserves, it doesn't question your willpower every time you get behind the wheel.

 Audi S4

Even when you play with the Drive Select system to toggle between the Comfort and Dynamic settings, things never seem quite perfect. Good, sure, but never effortlessly coherent. Oddly, the all-new S5does, and they're essentially the same car. Minor variances in weight and tuning account for the different feel between the two cars.

For plenty of S4 customers, these niggles won't be deal-breakers. No, the Audi's new engine doesn't sound great, but in a class of six-cylinder powerplants, only the straight-six BMW does; with the i, the trade-offs of steering feel and relative interior quality remain. The Audi is also visually conservative, but that's true for this entire genre.

What the S4 has are its obviously deep engineering, a brilliant interior, a top-shelf technology package, and the ability to eat miles quickly and effortlessly. It just lacks the last pieces of engineering and development cohesion that complete the puzzle. It's still a good car, just not a great one.

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A GIRL'S GUIDE TO: 2017 Audi S4

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