THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: This is just an all-round great car.
- What’s Worst: The multi-media system is extremely complicated.
- What’s Interesting: While it’s complicated, the graphics on the configurable virtual cockpit are amazing; set it up as you wish.
It’s not the flashiest car on the block nor the most powerful, but the 2018 Audi S4 could very well provide the best value of all when it comes to European sport sedans.
The S4 may fly under the radar with its rather conservative styling, but it’s what’s underneath that really matters here and the S4 has got the goods.
When it comes to Audis, I like to think of the cars with the ‘S’ designation as more sporty and speedy. Thus, the S4 is the performance variant of the more sedate A4, a stalwart in the Audi lineup for many years.
Redesigned for 2018, the S4 has a brand new powertrain, a direct injection turbocharged 3.0-litre V6, making 354 hp and 369 lb/ft of torque, mated with an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic.
The outgoing supercharged 3.0-litre V6 was a great engine, but this one is better and 14 kg lighter to boot. It’s more powerful and also more fuel efficient— how can you not to like that combination?
And, oh, the delightful sound of the exhaust when you punch the go-pedal is music to the ears of any auto aficionado. Peak torque is available from 1,370 rpm; meaning acceleration is quick right from the get-go.
Peak power comes from 5,400 to 6,400 rpm. Audi suggests a 0-100 km/h time of 4.7 seconds.
During my week with the car I was never left wanting for more power; when I needed to punch the accelerator to merge into high-speed traffic or overtake another vehicle, there was always power aplenty. Braking was equally impressive, the car stopped as well as it accelerated.
The dreaded turbo lag was minimal and the S4 proved to be an agile, capable performer in every driving situation. Sadly, there was no track time, but on the open road, the S4 was a gem to drive.
The Audi drive select system allows the operator to choose from different modes to make adjustments to things like steering, throttle and suspension. The modes include efficiency, comfort, auto, dynamic and individual. I left it in auto for the majority of my test, only venturing to the other modes to test it out.
Power is sent to the road through Audi’s famous Quattro all-wheel-drive system. It is a rear-biased system with 60 per cent of torque heading to the back wheels. Our tester also came with the optional Quattro sport differential ($1,900) that also splits the torque between the two rear wheels.
As Audi explains it, with the sport differential as the car is accelerating into a curve, the majority of the torque is delivered to the outside wheel to push the car into the curve and eliminate any tendency toward under- or over-steer.
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At a glance, it’s difficult to tell the S4 from the A4, but our tester sure stood out with the brilliant Navarra Blue paint that is exclusive to the S4 version.
There are other subtle hints that set the S4 apart including aluminum exhaust tips and unique wheels. The optional red brake calipers, a $500 option, also help the S4 stand out from the crowd.
With a base price of $62,100 for our Technik trim, our tester had a number of other options including dynamic steering ($1,500), S adaptive suspension ($1,000), heated rear seats ($350), carbon atlas inlays ($900), advanced driver assistance package ($2,100) and heads up display ($1,100), bringing the as tested price to $74,535 plus a freight charge of $2,095.
Inside, the S4 comes with what Audi calls the virtual cockpit, a fully digital, configurable, driver-focused instrument cluster including a 12.3-inch high-resolution screen. This MMI (multi-media interface) has great graphics, but is difficult to master. I never did catch on in my week with the car.
That aside, the cabin is beautifully finished with quality materials throughout.
I’ve always felt that Audi and Volvo have the best interiors going and this one lives up to the hype. Soft leather, quality plastics and trim pieces and supportive, comfortable seats are highlights.
The S4 has seating for five, but really only four in reality if you want any semblance of comfort whatsoever. For weekend getaways, trips to the golf course and grocery runs, the trunk is a decent size with 460 litres of cargo space.
For many buyers in the entry luxury class, the A4 sedan will offer everything they’re looking for in an automobile.
But for the buyer who values driving pleasure as much as the luxury touches, the S4 checks all the boxes — luxury, elegance, performance and outstanding driving dynamics.
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2018 Audi S4 Technik
BODY STYLE: Four-door luxury sports sedan.
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive.
ENGINE: Turbocharged 3.0-litre direct injection V6 (354 hp, 369 lb/ft of torque) with an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission.
FUEL ECONOMY: 11.5/8.0/9.9 L/100 km city/highway/combined on premium unleaded fuel.
CARGO CAPACITY: 460 litres.
PRICE: $62,100, as tested $74,535 plus $2,095 freight.
WEB SITE: www.audi.ca