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Reader test: Audi S4

2009-04-30 07:23

Justin, a South African living in London

I was originally planning to buy an E90 V8 BMW M3, but after test-driving the M3 and the 335i I decided that I couldn’t justify the 50% price premium over the 335i.

About a week before I was ready to order the 335i I read an article about the forthcoming Audi S4. I decided to wait for S4 pricing before ordering the 335i.

When Audi announced the S4 UK pricing at £34 255, more than £3 000 cheaper than the B7 S4 and £580 below BMWs E90 335i M Sport, I almost couldn’t believe my eyes as the B8 S4 is faster than both of them and has a higher standard spec than the Bimmer.

The S4 also has a number of options that I liked that were not available on the 335i sedan, most notably the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (amazingly almost £200 cheaper than a BMW auto box), the super sport seats, the sport differential and the electronic damper control that makes riding around on 19-inch wheels bearable.

Pricing got even better as I managed to negotiate a credit-crunch-sized 14% discount, making the asking price less than £30 000 before optional extras.

Has Audi surpassed the BMW 335i with the new S4?
The new Audi S4 packs 245kW and 440Nm of torque. 0-100km/h takes 5.1 seconds and with quattro you hardly ever see the traction control light (when going in a straight line!) even if you floor it from standstill.

The in-gear acceleration is even more impressive; the supercharger provides plenty of low down torque and the 3.0T V6 is eager to scream through the 7 000 r/min red-line. The B8 S4 is longer and wider than the B7 S4, its dimensions put it half way between a 3 Series and 5 Series sedan in terms of size.

The B8 model also has the engine mounted further back in the engine bay and the front axle further forward resulting in better weight distribution and smaller front overhangs than its predecessor.

The biggest improvement over the outgoing model though is in the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions figures. Audi has effectively changed its S4 from an overpriced, nose-heavy, understeering gas-guzzler into a class leading luxury performance sedan.
I have only had the car for three weeks so far and given that I have some mechanical sympathy for very new engines (more specifically, engines that I own!) I haven't taken it down to the track yet to test the much-hyped powersliding ability of the quattro sport diff. Judging by the times posted on fastestlaps.com, this S4 is a reasonable performer at the track, posting times well ahead of the S5 and half way between a V8 M3 and 335i (at sea level).
To answer my original question: Yes, it’s better than a 335i, the Audi S4 is the new benchmark in this category. Why would you pay more for less performance and a lower spec? I can’t wait to see what Audi do with the B8 RS4/RS5.

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