By Chris Haak
A few days ahead of their official debut at the Paris Auto Show, Audi has pulled the wraps off of its upcoming S4 Sedan and S4 Avant, and they appear to be impressive machines. Based on the new A4 (which is an extremely attractive and capable car in its own right), the new S4 features a new 3.0 liter supercharged V6 with direct injection. This engine produces 333 horsepower and an impressive 325 lb-ft of torque, with a 0 to 62 time of 5.1 seconds for the sedan and 5.2 seconds for the Avant. The supercharged engine produces maximum torque at just 2500 RPMs, and maintains it consistently between 2500 and 4850 RPMs, meaning the engine has some very solid midrange pull. Transmission choices are either a seven-speed “S-Tronic” dual-clutch gearbox, or a conventional six-speed automatic with a good ol’ clutch pedal.
Impressively, fuel economy is improved a substantial 26% compared to the previous S4 (which had a 340-horsepower 4.2 liter V8 underhood), while returning better performance numbers. Of course, being an Audi, Quattro all-wheel drive is standard, and diverts 60% of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels and 40% to the front wheels under normal driving conditions. Depending on the immediate need, the system can almost instantly transfer 100% of torque to either the front or rear of the car.In Audi’s model hierarchy, the A-cars are the “standard” models, the S-cars are the “sport” models, and the RS-cars are the insanely fast models. You know, like a 571-horsepower V10 in a midsize luxury sedan (the new RS6). So, although the new S4 is already outgunned by competition in its likely price bracket (the Lexus IS-F, Cadillac CTS-V, BMW M3, and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG), Audi may have another trick or two up its corporate sleeve to compete better on the stat sheets with those other 410+ (and in some cases 550+, with the Cadillac CTS-V) horsepower cars. The impressive-for-its-power fuel economy and high, flat torque curve will probably allow the S4 to hold its own against many of these competitors in the market and at the track. Did I mention that this car is just a visual knockout, inside and out? I spent some time poring over the interior of a 2009 A4 a few weeks ago, and it’s a well-built, very attractive place to spend time. The S4 upgrades should improve it further. Externally, the S4 shares the A4′s unique row of LED daytime running lamps, which immediately tell the world that a new Audi is coming toward them (or tailgating them, as the case may be).
Other upgrades to the A4 to create the S4 include a new electronic rear differential that can respond to conditions in as little as 100 milliseconds, a new sport interior, xenon headlights, a new body kit, and standard 18 inch wheels. Adaptive cruise control, MMI (Audi’s iDrive-like navigation and infotainment interface), and a Bang & Olufsen audio system are all available options. I look forward to seeing the new S4 on the road and on the auto show circuit, not to mention hopefully having the chance to test one firsthand in the next few months.
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