2018 AUDI S4 3.0T QUATTRO TIPTRONIC
Capable All-Arounder Borders on Exceptional
Never underestimate the liability of even-keeled competence. The Audi S4’s all-around skills proved plenty—among them a pleasantly appointed cabin, more than adequate power, and supple handling. But despite its agreeable interior and unflappable driving dynamics, this perfectly fine sport sedan couldn’t sway Automobile’s voters to elevate it to All-Stars winner status.
“I’ve always been an S4 fan, and there’s so much to like here, but it somehow doesn’t quite feel special or all that thrilling,” executive editor Mac Morrison argued. His observation echoed a prevailing sentiment that the S4’s potential for greatness somehow eluded the sum of its efficient, effective parts.
When deconstructing the puzzle of this contender from Ingolstadt, the first case for contention is its styling, a harmonious but harmless combination of Ibis White sheetmetal and a cabin in Red Magma. The S4’s inoffensively understated looks couldn’t have made a more apt analogy for its personality: Because the “S” moniker promises an elevated experience, expectations were perhaps higher than they maybe should have been, with some drivers wishing it had a bit more RS-like spunk than S-line polish.
Others lauded amenities such as massaging seats and the flexibility to act as both a daily driver and a canyon cruiser, and contributor Marc Noordeloos opined that “it’s quite a fast car, but the V-6 is all about low- and midrange power. … It runs out of puff at higher rpms, and that dilutes the sporty experience.”
In light of our motto, it’s not that the Audi S4 is a bad car by any measure but rather that it’s simply not exceptional enough to earn an All-Stars accolade this time around. — BW
PRICE: $50,900/$65,625 (base/as tested) ENGINE: 3.0L DOHC 24-valve turbo V-6/354 hp @ 5,400-6,400 rpm, 369 lb-ft @ 1,370-4,500 rpm TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic LAYOUT: 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD sedan EPA MILEAGE: 21/30 mpg...