The new Audi S4. Photo: Low Fai Ming

The Audi S4 gets a new engine and gearbox, giving it more grunt and gusto while ranking high on comfort and refinement.

Fantastic 4: Audi S4 3.0 TFSI quattro tiptronic (A)

May 24, 2017

In the temporary absence of an Audi RS4, the new B9 S4 is king of the Ingolstadtian marque’s A4 family. Spy shots of the RS4, taken near the famous Nurburgring, were captured earlier this year.

Audi’s RS cars, while considerably more usable on a daily basis compared to M models from BMW and AMG ones from Mercedes, are more at home on a track. From experience, we do prefer the tamer S models, which have proven to be great everyday sports cars.

Can the new S4 continue that tradition? We find out what’s new and if it’s going to be a hot favourite for petrolhead executives.

Bye super, hi turbo

Audi S4 3.0 TFSI-4

In a never-ending desire for more power while improving fuel economy, Audi has ditched the outgoing car’s supercharger for a turbo, giving the new S4 more power. Horsepower figures have increased by 16bhp and now stand at 349bhp, while torque is five-strong-hundred – a significant increment of 60Nm. The new engine remains a 3.0-litre V6 layout.

This bump in power gets the S4 from nought to a hundred in just 4.7 seconds, similar to Mercedes’ C 43 AMG. In comparison, the BMW 3 Series Sedan 340i M Sport clocks 5.1 seconds.

But unlike the aforementioned hot German sedan rivals, the S4 no longer employs an S-Tronic dual-clutch gearbox, one of the model’s most standout features. Instead, an eight-cog Tiptronic auto is chosen, which is due to the car’s bump in torque.

Potential buyers who frown upon the new torque converter Tiptronic, shouldn’t.

While it isn’t capable of the S-Tronic’s precision and rapid multiple downshifts, the Tiptronic provides creamy gear changes for daily driving, much like BMW’s benchmark unit. It’s one of the fastest-reacting automatics available today.

This new powertrain pairing translates into a beautiful driving experience, with huge reserves of torque available from a wide power band. Response is instantaneous and sustained, escorted by a roaring V6 soundtrack in Dynamic mode. At slower paces, the S4 is cosy and relaxed.

The S4’s improved performance isn’t just a product of the new powertrain, but also a 75kg lighter kerb weight, in defiance of the car’s increase in size.

Total control

The best part of Audi’s performance cars is how easy they are to drive; as proven by machines like the RS6 and the R8.

A rear-biased quattro mechanical all-wheel drive system keeps things in check, ordinarily sending 60 percent of torque to the rear, but can also dispense up to 85 percent. While we were told that the S4 can be pushed to drift, our gonads weren’t large enough for us to try.

We did, however, punish a known set of corners, which would provide concern for most cars, but not for the S4. The car’s powertrain, chassis and suspension work marvelously together, bestowing more grip and braking competency than we required.

One problem, in spite of how unbelievably capable the S4 is, is it’s clinical character. It’s civilised when you want it to be, velocious when it should, but just doesn’t provide much involvement and joy. However, as a car, which combines of refinement, comfort and easily usable performance, the handsomely understated S4 is about as perfect as one gets.


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