Review: 2010 Audi S4
When you first look at the new 2010 Audi S4, it might appear that Audi has taken a step backwards with a less-powerful, less-expensive S4, but you’d be wrong. The “third” German car company is finally an individual, no longer shadowing behind the Mercedes AMG or BMW M.
This newest S4 pushes aside the old V8 for a far more efficient supercharged V6 with more torque. Some purists might whine about this change, but the fact of the matter is that the car is now $3,000 cheaper and just as fast.
With the new A4 range, Audi is hoping that its cheaper models will lure people into buying the more expensive high performance sedan. Unlike the old S4, which was pitted against the Mercedes AMG C-Class and the BMW M3, the new $40,000 range S4 is more suited to battle the 335i orC350.
Full review after the jump.
After a couple of laps of the Road America circuit and many miles on the Wisconsin backroads, we seriously think that this new S4 is the way of the future. Offer more for less.
Under the hood the new S4 has a supercharged 3.0-liter V6. The badges read 3.0T, but don’t let that fool you. There is no turbocharger, so the T is a bit out of place on this car.
The test vehicle had a six-speed manual box, but a seven-speed S Tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters is new, as is a newly optional adjustable rear differential. Engineering fans will love the dual-clutch gearbox, but for real driving enthusiasts, the manual is the only way to go.
Let’s not forget the fuel economy. The S4 has a class-leading 28 miles per gallon on the highway for the S-Tronic transmission, while the manual delivers 27.
On the road, the S4 is just fantastic. In traffic, on the track, or cruising down the highway, the Audi S4 is an all around machine. Not to mention sleeper car looks. One would never know if it weren’t for the badges that you were driving a four-door rocket ship.
The S4 gets very supportive sport seats with built in headrests and it can be equipped with full leather. While soft and comfortable on the road, the seats were still able to provide plenty of support when taking corners at speed.
The interior is the usual fair that you’d find from any Audi. The S4 has a roomy front cabin, logical controls, and Audi’s MMI interface that is far better than the I-Drive system that we find in BMW models. There is decent space in the back for your children or friends and the trunk is large enough for your golf clubs. On top of that, this S4 is built to last. The design and attention to detail is world-leading.
Around town, the S4’s six-speed manual did suffer a bit from long throws, but it’s not really a big deal. The clutch is light enough to be pressed down with ease on the road, but it’s heavy and responsive enough for track use.
Once you’re out of the main streets and onto the track, the S4 becomes a whole new animal. The car was soft and composed over street bumps, but it firmed up pretty well around the corners. That’s all thanks to the optional Audi Drive Select system, which allows the driver to change the engine and throttle mapping, suspension damping, steering, and rear differential. The most obvious change you can make is in the steering. The driver can make the S4 tight like a BMW M3 by selecting the “Dynamic” setting and when the fun is over, selecting the “Comfort” setting for a soft cruise home.
Handling is great, but useless without a little power. The S4’s supercharged V6 has plenty of that on its plate. The motor is quiet and refined around the city and offers plenty of power above 2,000 rpm. Precise shifting will help you avoid the supercharger lag and get the most of what lives under the hood.
Audi says the new S4 will be able to hit 60 miles per hour in 4.9 seconds and it really feels like it. Stomp the throttle and you’re put back into the seat with an amazing force. Like all German sports cars the Audi S4 is limited to 155 mph. Take the limiter off and 175 mph wouldn’t be out of reach.
At the Road America race circuit the S4 was truly at home. There was so much power to hit the higher speeds down the straight and Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system kept the car in line around the corners. After driving the Mercedes C63 AMG, which wanted to kill you around every bend, the S4 was composed, secure, and easy to drive fast.
Under normal driving conditions the S4 has a power split of 60 percent of the power to the rear and 40 to the front. Yet, just like the handling setup, the power split is adjustable. Change the setting to “Dynamic” and the Audi sends its power all over. Similar to Acura’s SuperHandling system, the S4 can transfer all of its power to one wheel if needed. That makes this car very easy to whip around the bends.
There is a little problem with feel in the S4’s steering wheel though. With everything else nearly flawless, this little issue appears bigger than it actually is. The Audi S4 finally matches up with its German rivals, but a little more feel would be nice.
The 2010 Audi S4 isn’t amazing because of its value, it’s amazing because it’s just that good. The S4 costs 10 percent less than the equivalent 335i xDrive and offers so much more for the money. The BMW M3 and the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG are much faster, but cost a whole lot more as well.
Should you buy one? Oh yes, as quickly as possible. The 2010 Audi S4 is a practical, fast, and refined sports sedan that can take you to work in comfort and then take you home in a blur of speed. All for just $45,900.