New Audi superstar
The sporty S4 has lost nothing in dropping 1200cc, writes NEIL McDONALD
DESIGNERS often sprout the phrase ‘‘less is more’’ when describing the newest building, magazine or fashion. But Audi could quite easily use it to describe its new S4 sedan.
In a bold move that many European manufacturers are following, Audi has downsized the engine from a 4.2-litre V8 to a 3.0-litre V6 to drive the trademark quattro allwheel drive system.
But before you start thinking Audi has gone soft, the V6 has been fitted with a supercharger to keep performance addicts happy.
The move is designed to not only improve economy but also meet tough new emissions requirements.
The V6 is mated to a slick sevenspeed S-tronic gearbox with paddle shifters.
The V6 may be down 8kW on the V8, but it has 30Nm more torque. The 440Nm is also spread across a wider rev range, coming in from 2900 revs.
Let off the leash, the S4 will still sprint to 100km/h in 5.3 sec and on to a governed, but academic, top speed of 250km/h.
Perhaps more importantly, fuel consumption has dropped.
Audi says its 9.4 litres/100km combined figure is about 24 per cent better than the old car.
Audi refers to the latest S4 as a 3.0-litre TFSI, but the T no longer stands for turbo. Audi says the supercharger and direct injection are far superior to twin turbochargers in terms of packaging, performance and responsiveness.
It is clearly taking a dig here at the BMW 335i, which uses twin turbos.
There is an impressive array of measures to keep the noise generated by the supercharger to a minimum.
Audi says the compressor provides full thrust right from idle and overtaking urge when needed.
Visually, the S4 gets discrete badging, quad exhausts, 18-inch alloys and is 20mm lower than the A4.
High-performance brakes also are included, along with a full leather interior.
The xenon-plus headlights and LED daytime running lights and LED rear lights add an air of purpose.
The front and rear suspension components are aluminium to save weight and the steering gear has been mounted low in the body for greater precision and road feel.
If you really want to explore the S4’s limits there is an optional $6700 ‘‘ drive select’’ package that sharpens the car’s behaviour through electronics.
The system allows you to configure the level of steering assistance, damper stiffness and shifting speed.
A sport differential is part of the package but is not available separately.
The drive select package gives owners a choice of three settings: comfort, auto and dynamic.
If the vehicle is equipped with the MMI operating system, a fourth mode is available which the driver can program according to their own preferences.
The adaptive control system helps correct the car via lightning-fast steering intervention when the car approaches its handling limits.
The sport differential distributes torque in continuously variable proportions between the rear wheels in the manner of a conventional limited-slip differential.
If necessary, it diverts virtually all the power to just one rear wheel to ensure better grip and agility.
Of course, being an S4, there are huge high-performance and faderesistant brakes sitting behind the standard 18-inch and optional 19-inch cast alloy wheels.
The front brake calipers carry the S4 logo.