For those who crave performance with panache at a not-so-prohibitive price, form a line here. The Audi S4 has arrived
Taking its place at the head of the new A4 range, together with the iconic S4 Avant station wagon, the sedan continues five generations of high-performance sports cars with a stylish sophistication that’s understated.
Audi maintains refinement is the S4 keyword, with advanced technology, intelligent infotainment and connectivity systems, as well as highly developed chassis concept that reduces weight by 75kg, while improving handling and ride comfort.
With its 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 engine, an all-new design that is 14kg lighter than its predecessor’s supercharged powerplant, the zero-to-100 km/h sprint comes up in 4.7 seconds, 0.3 sec better than before.
The S4 sedan, at $99,900, plus on-road costs, is touted as the first S4 below a hundred grand. However, the test vehicle had a metallic paint finish pushing the price to $101,746.
The letter S, a direct link with motorsport, made its way into production cars in 1990 after the Sport quattro S1 had become a legend in the 1985 world rally championship season.
A small S family quickly grew with members having two traits: quattro drive and an understated visual image. Almost 30 years later the Audi S4 continues the trend.
As befits the ‘S’ philosophy, the latest model is its own ‘person’ with distinctive bumpers, air inlets, side sills and spoiler and diffuser trim. Double, twin tailpipes add the final touch to the sporting story.
LED headlights and dynamic turn signals at the rear are standard, while Audi matrix LED headlights with dynamic turn signals front and rear are an option.
A mix of construction materials makes for a strong, rigid body, at the same time saving 75 kg in weight over the previous model.
The words sports car and cabin space often avoid being mentioned in the same breath. That is not the case, with the S4 offering comfortable surroundings for five occupants, in which typically for an ‘S’ black dominates, and quality materials have been combined by fine craftsmanship.
Unusual technical touches include a monitor that acts like a tablet computer, while at night LED light conductors trace the contours of the doors and the centre console. A head-up windscreen information display is an option, sadly not on the test car.
An option very much in evidence was the Audi virtual cockpit, a fully digital instrument cluster, showing key information on a 12.3-inch TFT display directly in front of the driver.
A ‘View’ button on the sport leather steering wheel switches between three interfaces, including an exclusive sport mode with the tachometer dominating a digital speedo.
The top infotainment system, MMI navigation plus uses an 8.3-inch monitor and Audi connect, LTE and Wi-Fi hotspot. Audi connect services include Google functions. There’s an optional Audi phone box with inductive charging and Audi smartphone interface for iOS and Android.
Passengers can surf the web, text or email with mobile devices, while the driver can use the customised services of Audi connect to access Google Earth and Google Street View and Google local search.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
A redesign of the V6 TFSI has lowered its weight by 14 kg to 172 kg at the same time increasing power to 260 kW, 15 kW more than the engine in the previous model, and to 500 Nm of torque (60 Nm more than before) between a low 1370 and 4500 rpm.
The drivetrain and chassis of the new Audi S4 and S4 Avant were also redeveloped, with the eight gears making it possible to operate the engine close to its ideal load point frequently. The lower gears have short, sporty ratios, while the upper gears are long to reduce revs and fuel consumption.
As well as eight airbags, electronic stabilisation control with electronic wheel-selective torque control, ABS antiskid braking, ASR, EDL and Brake Assist, the S4 sedan is made worthy of the top five-star ANCAP safety rating with a range of driver assist systems.
These include an Assistance package city including autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, Audi side assist, pre-sense rear and exit warning attention assist, the last giving a warning if the driver appears to be losing attention.
Audi pre-sense city with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection detects impending collisions at up to 85 km/h and can reduce speed by up to 40 km/h, while pre-sense rear helps to mitigate rear-enders through a series of measures including flashing the hazard lights to warn other road users.
The cabin can take four adult friends comfortably, and joy of joys, unlike many sports cars, there’s a stack of space in the boot to take their stuff; even more with the split rear seat back(s) folded.
The while the 260 kW of the reworked 3.0-litre V6 TFSI engine has the S4 steaming off the line, it’s the 500 Nm of torque over a wide rev range (1370 to 4500 rpm) that offers the flexibility to make driving relaxed.
In stop / start city going, petrol consumption of the test car brushed up against 15 litres per 100 kilometres, while in free-rein motorway work it willingly dipped under six litres per 100.
Obviously, fuel consumption depends very much on how the S4 operates and here’s where Audi Drive Select comes in. Engaged by lower dash-mounted buttons, the system tunes the drive to varied styles – efficiency, comfort, auto, dynamic and individual – altering the way the car performs.
I found comfort or auto the way to go in town, while dynamic dialed up an exhilarating ride on country-style twists and turns at speed, the latter leaving in its wake an exhaust note that was far from brash; more of a mellow bellow.
The eight-speed tiptronic shuffled between all of the above drive modes, shifting through the cogs with hardly a step up or down, while quattro, with its torque vectoring adjunct, kept the car’s feet firmly on the ground under a range of road conditions.
An optional S performance package can dig even deeper into the S4’s psyche, enhancing levels of comfort and customisation, while a Technik package calls on superior technology such as the Bang & Olufsen 3-D sound system delivering 755 watts of audio power through 19 speakers.
Although a high-performance product with a high level of comfort and a plethora of driver-assist systems, the S4’s free-spirited character gave me leeway to have fun, showing I was not ready anytime soon to become the Ayrton Senile of the mobility scooter set. A comforting experience.
AT A GLANCE
Audi S4 3.0 TFSI quattro tiptronic sedan: $99,900
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Audi dealer for drive-away prices.
19in Audi Sport alloy wheels in 5-V-spoke design (S design) with 245/35 tyres Space saver spare
Airbags (8 in total)
Assistance package city, including autonomous emergency braking, Audi side assist, pre-sense rear and exit warning, attention assist, Audi pre-sense city with autonomous emergency braking and pedestrian detection, Audi pre-sense rear, including flashing the hazard lights
Electromechanical parking brake
Electronic stabilisation control with electronic wheel-selective torque control, ABS, ASR, EDL and Brake Assist
Park assist, rear cross traffic assist, exit warning system, turn assist and obstacle avoidance assist
Tyre pressure indicator
MMI navigation plus with 8.3in monitor and Audi connect, LTE and Wi-Fi hotspot
Audi smartphone interface for iOS and Android
Audi matrix LED headlights with dynamic turn signals front and rear
Adaptive cruise control with Stop&Go, including traffic jam assist for slow-moving traffic
SPECIFICATIONS (Audi S4 3-litre V6 turbo-petrol quattro tiptronic sedan)
Capacity: 2.995 litres
Configuration: Six cylinders in ‘V’ formation
Maximum Power: 260 kW @ 5400-6400 rpm
Maximum Torque: 500 Nm @ 1370-4500 rpm
Fuel Type: Petrol 95 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.7 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 175 g/km
DRIVELINE: Eight-speed tiptronic with DSP and sport program, quattro AWD
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4745 mm
Wheelbase: 2825 mm
Width: 1842 mm
Height: 1404 mm
Turning Circle: 11.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 1630 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 58 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Three years / unlimited kilometres