Road test: Audi S4 gets down to (sporty) business
Some sporting stars like to shout their credentials from the rooftops with swagger and ego. Not the Audi S4.
Equivalent to Cameron Smith of the automotive fraternity, the S4 is an undoubted star that gets the job done with precision and quality - yet possesses an air of austerity and goes without the fanfare.
Starting from just below $100,000 (wagon versions are $3000 more), the S4 looks like an expensive executive chariot. That price tag sounds heavy to many, but the devil is in the detail and underneath the skin.
Motivating the refined four-door is a turbocharged V6 that can slingshot the sedan from standstill to 100kmh in less than five seconds. That's approaching supercar territory.
It manages that task with a lovely, throaty exhaust note. Nothing too overt, but a magnificent soundtrack that surpasses the need to option the Bang and Olufsen sound system.
Just listen to the notes derived from your right foot instead.
Typically there are a heap of options or packs required to raise the luxury bar, even on high-end Audi models, but apart from our test car having metallic paint worth $1846 it was essentially stock-standard.
Equipment includes the awesome digital cockpit that enables the driver to configure the instruments and sat nav information to their liking within the binnacle, while there is also a central 8.3-inch monitor with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, sports seats, leather trim and flat-bottom steering wheel.
One question a buyer might ask is whether it's worth considering downsizing slightly for the RS3 sedan, which starts from $84,900 ... it's quicker but smaller. It all depends on how often you use the back seats and larger boot.
Common-sense prevails in the design, with cup holders in the console and bottle holders in the doors, along with ample storage for phones and other gear in the console.
Getting inside can require some flexibility. The ride is 23mm lower than a standard A4, but it's not like a sports car.
There is 505 litres of luggage space, good for a couple of large suitcases with room left over, and the rear seats also fold flat so you can fit a bike or awkward-sized gear. The power- operated boot ensures you don't need to flex any muscle and if your arms are full, just put a small kick under the rear bumper and the lid flicks open.
Ride on the 19-inch rubber is surprisingly good and only sharp corrugations or potholes cause nasty thuds.
Five stars are awarded courtesy of a full suite of equipment.
The S4 comes with radar cruise control and functionality which looks after the braking and accelerating in frustrating bumper-to-bumper traffic, automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection at up to 85kmh, automatic high beam that dips the lights for you, rear traffic warning when reversing out of parks and automatic parking.
With a rear-biased all-wheel drive set-up and that punchy V6, it's an addictive performer.
Cruise in efficiency or standard modes and it can feel sleepy, although engage sport and enlist the paddle shifters on the steering wheel and the S4 becomes a livewire.
That's what makes this a lovable offering for a family.
It performs everyday duties with ease, yet the exhaust note is the constant reminder there is ability available when summonsed. And when you call, it answers on every occasion.
You can punch the throttle and head for the 6500rpm without delay, and it'll turn and brake too with finesse and outstanding dexterity.
Growling exhaust note and and effortless acceleration, you had me at the blip of the throttle you minx.
Hefty price tag and the licence could be in jeopardy if the S4 was a permanent fixture in the garage.
Mercedes-AMG C43 $101,900.
Wonderfully punchy offering, it has the same sprint time as the S4 and equally good equipment.
BMW 340i $89,900.
Splendid straight-six performance which isn't quite as quick, still has a wonderfully savage personality.
Delicate dynamism encapsulates the S4. Our family loved the four-door and all its virtues, offering sublime performance when needed, yet having the space for school runs and weekend sports gear.
Balance daily duties with excessive fun at the whim of your paddles and a heavy right foot. And more good news, this variant is less expensive than the outgoing model.
A car that makes you look forward to the drive home.
Audi S4 Sedan
ENGINE 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 260kW/500Nm
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic.
THIRST 7.7 litres/100km (combined average).
0-100KMH 4.7 seconds.
WARRANTY 3 year/unlimited kilometre
SERVICING Audi Genuine Care Service Plan available for three years or 45,000km for $1620.