New Audi su­per­star

The sporty S4 has lost noth­ing in drop­ping 1200cc, writes NEIL McDON­ALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test Audi S4 -

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.

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