2010 Audi S4: Power, Performance and Style
By Mike Blake, Carlisle Events
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Audi’s performance version of the A4 is the S4, which began as a high-perf adaptation of Audi’s 1200 saloon sedan in 1991. After taking a year off, the S4 is back in 2010 with a more powerful engine and luxurious lines.
The all-wheel drive 6-speed manual has already gained a solid reputation for its performance and handling and the 2010 model adds impressive speed and high-tech electronics to its portfolio and it tests very well against power-luxury competitors in the $50k range.
With Euro-luxury styling A4 measures out at 185.7 inches long, 71.9 inches wide and 55.4 inches high on a 110.7-inch wheelbase. Weighing in at a hefty 3924 lbs, this two-ton tribute to German engineering is a rocket on the track and a confident and stylish ride on the highway.
At first glance, S4 is a twin to the A4 except for the badging and spiffy 18-inch wheels (my test ride upgrade was adorned with 19 inchers). The curved architecture is enhanced by S-design front/rear bumpers, S-design front grille, and rocker moldings; Quad exhaust tail pipes, trunk lid with integrated spoiler, aluminum optic mirrors and front/rear diffuser blades, LED taillights and S4 aluminum-optic exterior accents.
Under the hood is where S4 is all-improved for 2010. Replacing the old 4.2-liter V-8 is a powerful and economical 3.0-liter supercharged V-6. Coupled to an efficient S-tronic dual-clutch gearbox, the longitudinally mounted all-aluminum 6-cylinder plant produces a stellar 333hp and 325 lbs.-ft. of torque that provides ample power across all ranges.
In a real sense, Audi had added by subtraction. The smaller V-6 with its Eaton Supercharger might produce 7 fewer horses than the larger plant, but with reduced weight, better weight distribution and finer performance, Audi has developed a faster, better handling and more responsive vehicle.
With FSI direct-injection dual intercoolers, four valves per cylinder, 2-stage variable intake manifold and drive-by-wire throttle, S4 attacks acceleration with an entertaining amount of torque steer and blazed down a zero-to-60mph run in 5.2 seconds (I also had a co-pilot adding 200 lbs. to my test run). Our best quarter-mile time was 13.5, and on the highway, passing at high speed is effortless and acceleration is non-hesitant. In relation to the earlier model and its larger V-8, my best time in this 2010 was seven-tenths of a second faster than my best 440 yards in a 2008 S4.
From a handling perspective, the nose stays down and with stability control on, the car is road sticky, though on an autocross, the car is more fun and more maneuverable with the switch off. Through esses and road curves, steering feel is a bit vague, but there is virtually no yaw and excellent wheel power transfer. Braking is sure and true, though I found the ABS system to be noisy.
Drinking 91 octane fuel, the A4 is EPA rated at 18 mpg in city driving and 27mpg on the highway. Real world tests over a week’s worth of driving in various conditions and scenarios, my test ride came through with an average of 21.9mpg.
Living up to its marketing as a luxury sports ride, the S4 cabin is accommodating and pleasing.
Roomy, the interior offers seating for 5, with front room of 40 inches (37.5 in the rear); front leg room of 41.3 inches (35.2 in row two and front shoulder room of 55.5 inches (54.3 in the second seats).
Accompanied by stylish, upgraded materials, sport seats (my option gave me soft, supple leather), brushed aluminum, black headliner, S4-badged steering wheel, aluminum door sill inlays, key fob, and gauge cluster and classic dash design, the cabin is a proud one to sit in and drive in.
Safety is attended to in fine fashion with standard dual-side front airbags and rear head airbags, four-wheel ABS, braking assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control, stability control, rollover protection and a tire pressure monitoring system. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tests awarded S4 a perfect 5 stars in ALL tests – front driver, front passenger, side front, side rear and rollover.
The 2010 Audi S4 is base priced at $45,900 for a manual and $47,300 for S-tronic. My test vehicle added Prestige Package ($6,100 -- includes 19-inch wheels, DVD player, keyless entry/ignition, auto-dimming mirrors, 505-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system, driver memory functions, and hard-drive-based navigation system with real-time traffic and third-generation MMI); Audi Drive Select Package ($3,950 -- includes a sport rear differential and driver-adjustable controls for suspension firmness, steering and throttle response); Silk Napa Leather Seats ($1,000); Driver Assist Package ($900 -- includes blind-spot monitoring system, back-up camera and rear parking sensors) and Metallic/Pearl Effect Paint ($475). Add destination charges of $825 and my S4 could be driven off the lot for $60,550 plus tax and license, but with a few incentives being offered the mid-$50s will buy you one very loaded S4.
Audi S4 was missed last year, but it is back with style, power and performance in 2010.
Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.
Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.
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