2017 Audi S4 Review, If there is a badge that means discrete performance all seasons, it’s the little ‘S’ found on the back of the Audis performance like this new Audi S4. Whether on an S1 or S8, it guarantees a powerful motor and Velcro-wrapped traction in a racing that will fly under the radar of all the car’s nuts but the hardest.
One of the longest members of the S dynasty is the S4, which, apart from a brief alliance with a bent-eight, has always stuck to the proven recipe of a boosted engine in front, four Wheel drive and all but the smallest visual nods to give away what it is capable of.
The latest version stifles the six supercharged its predecessor, replacing it with a single turbo V6 that pushes a good 349bhp and 368Ib feet of torque. This could be down on the Mercedes-AMG C 43 – arguably its closest rival – but it matches its 0-62 mph time of 4.7 seconds.
As is usually the case, aluminum exterior mirrors and quad exhaust pipes are the easiest way to spot an S4. Inside, you get electrically adjustable Nappa sports leather seats, a lot of S badging and Navigation Plus.
2017 Audi S4 Review
It might not look different from a S-line diesel equipped A4 on the outside, but you certainly know that you are in an S4 when the V6 trips with a flowering. Sliding the eight-speed automatic torque converter into the drive reveals a box that is significantly smoother than the dual-clutch unit in most other A4’s.
Continue to drive cautiously and the engine will settle into the bottom, emitting the weaker six-pot grun you’re traveling on the road. Our test car had adaptive shock absorbers which, even in comfort mode, always had a firm edge, even though this one was very rarely rugged. Even then, we would blame the optional 19in wheels and potholes especially vicious for this.
More concern is direction (the standard configuration rather than the optional rack Dynamic Steering ratio variable ratio) which is far too light in comfort mode. Things do not improve in auto, but while he follows right and feels precise, he is still decidedly numb.
But so far we have only played with the most boring driving modes, and if you flick to Dynamic mode? The first thing you notice is noise; Lower grunt turns into a howl that delightfully builds up the towers. For these ears, this is one of the best turbo sixes sounds to (relatively) healthy money.
It’s fast too. The box is capable of fast gearchanges when asked, and the V6 feels muscular, pulling sharply from low rpm yet happy to rev out if the mood take you.
So, how about handling? There is certainly no doubt about the efficiency of the Quattro transmission, and our test car had the optional sports differential on the rear axle. While marketing declares that it contributes to agility, it is not a car to steer on the throttle.
Even a flattened throttle pedal, a lot of steering lock, ESP off and a damp road fails to peel back end. You certainly feel the rear axle that helps the car to turn, but neutrality is the name of the game, even with the diff in Dynamic mode.
Try to flicking the direction the same way, and you get a lot more gloopy weighting without any extra sensation. At least the suspension remains fairly compliant if a little too firm for your average B-road broken. Fortunately, there is an individual mode that allows noisy exhaust, diff Dynamic and sporty changes for the gearbox without the weight of unnecessary steering and stiffening of the suspension.
As for the inside, well it’s like almost all the other A4’s, but with a little more sporty trim. The seats are comfortable and comfortable, the driving position is good and the instrument panel remains a triumph of functional design.
Do I have to buy one?
We can totally understand why someone might opt for the S4. It may not be a gym at the minute, with delicate answers and oversteer at the tap, but we appreciate a lot of people do not want this kind of hooliganism on a day-to-day basis.
Instead, the S4 is a perfectly usable and fairly comfortable living room car that happens to be extremely capable of crossing the country quickly without it or the driver breaking a sweat.
For us, the most communicative and playful Jaguar XE S or BMW 340i may not be quite as fast in bad weather, but they are more engaging by far. And in our book, it’s enough to turn a good gym into a great one.
Location: West Sussex; On sale now; Price £ 44,600; Engine V6, 2995cc, turbo, gasoline; Power 349bhp at 5400-6400rpm; Torque of 368 lb ft at 1370-4500 rpm; Transmission Automatic eight-speed; Curb weight 1705 kg; 0-62mph 4.7secs; Maximum speed 155 mph (limited); Economy 38.7mpg CO2 / tax band 170g / km, 31%; Rivals Jaguar XE S, Mercedes-AMG C 43