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.
Audi’s philosophy behind its S models is to have a car a bit sportier than their regular models without shouting about it, and the S4 does just that. The S4 is an excellent example of a fast, well-finished and good-looking car that isn’t overdone. It certainly ticks all the boxes - luxury, elegance, performance and outstanding driving dynamics. The B9 S4 is like the B8 S4, but obviously much better.
The new S4 is powered by a new direct injection turbocharged 3.0-litre V6, 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. The new motor now puts out maximum power of 260kw, while peak torque of 500nm is available from 1,370-4,500rpm; meaning acceleration is no doubt quick right from the get-go. Audi claims a 0-100kph time of 4.7 seconds, and fuel consumption of just 7.3L/100kms.
Power is sent to the road through Audi’s famous Quattro all-wheel-drive system. However, the new quattro system, introduced in the latest-generation A4 2.0TFSI, works a little differently in the S4. Here, it sends 60% of engine torque to the rear wheels for a sportier driving experience. However, when the system detects wheelspin, it can redistribute up to 85% of available power either front or back.
The S4 also has a special optional Quattro sport differential that splits torque between the rear wheels. Simply put, the way this sport differential works is, as the car is accelerating into a corner, it sends the majority of the torque to the outside wheel to push the car into the corner and eliminate any tendency toward under- or over-steer. Audi drive select system further enhances the drive by allowing the driver to choose from different modes to make adjustments to things like steering, throttle and suspension. These modes include efficiency, comfort, auto, dynamic and individual.
The S4 cuts a neat silhouette, while few bits of kit help to distinguish it from its milder A4 siblings. To the untrained eye, it will be hard to distinguish the S4 from an A4 dressed up with the S line package. There are other subtle hints that set the S4 apart including large 19” rims, while other minor details, like the aluminium coloured mirrors, a subtle rear wing, a drop of 23mm in ride height, and slightly pronounced side sills silently shouts about what really lies underneath. The optional six-piston red brake calipers also help the S4 stand out from the crowd. At the rear, a set of quad pipes and a red “S4” badge hint of its performing ability.
Just like the previous Audis, the S4 blends luxury and sportiness into a magnificent cabin. A sophisticated dash board and sculpted sports seats are some of the interior highlights of this sporty sedan. As you would imagine, the quality of the interior plastics are obviously irreproachable, and in typical Audi fashion everything feels bank-vault solid. The S4 also makes use of Audi's yet-to-be-beaten optional "virtual cockpit" 12.3-inch digital driver's display, which can be reconfigured to suit the driver's taste. There’s also a centrally mounted 8.3-inch infotainment screen with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay. At night, LED light conductors trace the contours of the doors and the center console – in 30 colors with the optional ambient light package. Thanks to the vehicle’s excellent aero-acoustics, the interior noise level is exceptionally low.
The S4 may fly under the radar with its rather conservative styling, and it might not be the most powerful car in its class, but it’s what’s underneath that really matters here and the S4 has most definitely got the goods. Priced at R809 000, the new S4 could very well provide the best value of all when it comes to European sport sedans.