Hot new Audi S4 driven!
A SPORTY STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION: The Audi S4 is a worthy sport sedan choice compared to its rivals even if it's not keen to lift its skirt(s) down and live a little.
Audi’s A4 has been a great success story for the brand with nine-million sold. Despite its strong following it still trails German rivals Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW’s 3 Series. Nobody’s expecting them to re-invent the wheel but the group seems to be wary of doing anything too radical with the A4 design.
For 2012 the range has taken another tentative step in a so far 17-year journey, with its latest air-brushed, sport-engineered S4.
DOUBLE THE PRICE, DOUBLE THE CAR
In terms of design, the S4 is identifiable by its new wheels, 19" (up from 18), tweaked front and rear as well as S4 badging and tail pipes. The interior has been spruced up as well.
The S4 is powered by a 3.0 TFSI engine capable of 245kW440Nm. The petrol engine can be mated to either a six-speed manual or seven-speed auto.
Pricewise the model retails for an hefty R620 000 and although it’s twice the price of the base 1.8 it’s twice the vehicle the base version could ever hope to be. Despite this I’m not quite sold on the S as it seems to be tentative about showing off its “cojones”
The S4 makes a great track car with its visceral acceleration and pace with the sporty sedan capable of 0-100km in 5.1sec and reaching 250km/h. Steering is responsive, albeit feeling artificial and the adaptive suspension will ensure the S4 sticks to the road despite your every attempt to be a hooligan. My only problem with the steering is that typical Audi dilemma; great ride at the cost of driver feedback. The manual gearbox goes a long way to generating an engaging ride and the auto is sublime while the paddle-shifts are pitch-perfect.
Sure it’s quick, sure it has fantastic handling but it’s just not "grin-inducing" and for a vehicle that costs the same as half-decent house. If you’re going to be throwing around that kind of money, it’s got to be truly special. If you’ve driven the new A4 you’ll be blown away by the S. If you’ve been behind the wheel of, say, BMW’s 335i, then you’d be hard-pressed to choose one over the other. If money is of concern (when is it not), my pick of the A4 bunch would be the 2.0 TDI 105kW at R336 500.
Audi’s sport DNA comes through remarkably well. Overall it’s a great car, up against its rivals… I’m not convinced.
The S4 takes on the likes of the elegant Mercedes-Benz C350, hooligan BMW 335i and superb Lexus IS350. It’s a tough market and will ultimately come down to personal preference. The S4 is another example of the outstanding engineering that we’ve come to expect from Audi and makes for a worthy choice considering the ostentatious nature of its rivals.
If you’re still not sold, wait until the new RS4 Avant arrives in SA!