What’s this, then?
Audi’s latest S4. It’s the sixth generation of the badge and is all-new.
What’s so new about it?
Audi’s dropped in a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6, replacing the old supercharged 3.0-litre V6 MOTOR loved so much.
On paper it might seem like Audi’s simply bolted a huffer to the old alloy block V6. It again uses 24 valves, and identical bore and stroke measurements. But the bore spacing’s changed, and it's 14kg lighter. It’s now also bolted to an eight-speed auto.
Also, like an RS6, the cylinder heads have been rotated to pump air through a twin-scroll turbo in its vee. It churns out 260kW and 500Nm, or 15kW/60Nm more than the old one.
Surely to help with new love handles…
Wrong. The new chassis, based on the MLB evo platform, sheds 15kg, while its panels, steering, and body in white slash another 16kg. Further kilos were outed by things like seats, and overall 75kg has vanished from the S4’s mass.
Looks good too, but how do you even know it’s an S4?
Badges, silver mirror scalps and a set of quad-exhausts poking from the rear diffuser are the subtle clues, but new front six-piston calipers are the real giveaways.
There’s not much inside to reveal you’re in an S model either. It’s the same high-tech affair as the A4, in that you’re greeted by a suave layered stack and rich materials.
How’s it drive, then?
The new S4 is fast. Despite its Hankooks’ low grip levels, the five-link suspension setup all-round and quattro drivetrain extract the most from them.
Adaptive damping and a rear sports differential are still its cornerstone dynamic weapons, and with inside-wheel braking now added you can power out of corners so early. It rides okay, too, but we didn’t try a car without adaptive damping.
Okay, the important part, is the new engine any good?
With the turbine harboured in its vee, gas paths are extremely short. The reality of this is the engine’s super responsive. Even in the depths of its rev-range it pulls hard, making peak torque 1530rpm sooner than the old supercharged mill at 1370rpm.
It doesn’t rev high as the old unit, but with the new turbo V6’s delivery over by 6400rpm there’s no point. And there’s no aural treat to keep you hanging around either.
So less character, but is it better value?
If Audi can price it right (it’s aiming for $106K for the sedan and $109K for the Avant) the S4’s going to be hard to beat. There’s so much technology available – Wi-Fi, inductive phone charging, matrix LEDs, automatic safety tech – that it comes down to what ends up standard.
It’ll be most likely be the head-up display, virtual cockpit, and round steering wheel on local S4s. Which isn’t a bad deal, but if Audi wants to tempt buyers out of serious sport metal at $100K, we’d also want either nappa seats, the sports rear diff, or adaptive dampers.
What about its luxury competition?
Stay tuned for a stoush between Jaguar’s XE S, BMW’s 340i, and the soon-to-arrive Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG after the S4 lands fourth quarter this year.
Engine: 2995cc V6, DOHC, 24v, turbo
Power: 260kW @ 5400-6400rpm
Torque: 500Nm @ 1370-4500rpm
0-100km/h: 4.7sec (claimed)
Price: $106K (estimated)