Audi 2010 Audi S4 Road Test

2010 Audi S4

2010 Audi S4

The Audi S4 returns, after a one year hiatus, for the 2010 model year. A lot has happened in the last year, and Audi Canada is one of the few car companies that could truthfully say "it's been a good year."

2010 Audi S4

Audi's ability to adapt to new market reality has not only been its saving grace, it has allowed the German automaker to relish the new order. Audi is cleverly positioning itself in the marketplace as "progressive luxury." Never mind size or glitz -- just feel and enjoy guilt-free performance and real quality.

Based on the A4 sedan, the new S4 fits perfectly into this lean and athletic new definition of luxury. Fast yet fuel-frugal, technically advanced yet sensibly priced, this S4 offers the smart buyer a sophisticated high-performance sedan for a new generation.

At $52,500 (for the six-speed manual version) the "repositioning" of the S4 has made it almost $20,000 below its predecessor. Instead of a fuel-guzzling V8 engine, the new and lighter S4 comes with a fuel-efficient, direct-injected three-litre V6 with a supercharger.

The new TFSI V6 engine can develop 333 horsepower between 5,300 and 6,000 r.p.m., which is only seven horsepower less than the V8. Torque is rated at 325 foot-pounds, which is 23 ft.-lbs. more than the old V8 and 90 per cent of it is available between 1,500 and 4,200 r.p.m.

Fuel economy has improved considerably compared with the previous-generation S4, and is estimated to be 13.8 litres per 100 kilometres in the city and nine litres per 100 km on the highway. Like the old V8, however, premium fuel is a "must" in the new S4.

The base S4 ($52,500) comes with a smooth and precise six-speed manual transmission (6MT) with short easy to navigate shifts through its gear range. The S4 (for $54,100) can also be ordered with an optional paddle-shifting, seven-speed S-Tronic transmission, which also operates like a normal automatic.

It's actually a dual-clutch auto-shifting manual transmission that cleverly pre-selects the next gear, with its second clutch, so effectively the shift has already been made. The S-Tronic can also skip gears when required, it blips the throttle when downshifting, and it can change gears in micro-seconds during hard acceleration.

Quattro all-wheel-drive is standard and the S4 can also be ordered with a new Sports Rear Differential ($1,500). No ordinary limited-slip differential, it's an active or "torque vectoring" differential. When steering into or accelerating out of a corner this differential can add torque to an outside rear wheel, to reduce under-steer.

Another piece of Audi techno-magic is a Drive Select system that comes with the Premium trim and gives the driver a choice of four driving modes. Throttle response, suspension damping, transmission shift points and steering action can all be set in comfort, dynamic, automatic or an individual mode, which is setup by the driver.

The S4's refined powertrain allows it reach 100 km/hour in about five seconds and it has a top speed of 250 km/hour. We got to experience this first-hand on the Infineon Racetrack in Sonoma, formerly called Sears Point. It's a challenging circuit that has lots of corners and changes in track elevation.

Audi also gave me an S4 to take for an extended (six-to-seven-hour) drive to Los Angeles, as I took a slightly longer route back to Vancouver. Is there a better way to test seat and cabin comfort than spend hours behind the wheel on motorway in 110-degree heat?

Apart from scorched eyeballs, no aches, pains or speeding tickets to report. The latter would have been easy to achieve as the S4 feels very stable at highways speeds and has lots of reserve untapped power at the legal limit. My fuel-consumption calculations were scuttled by a lengthy traffic snarl in the Bay Area, but I still managed to average 10.1 L/100km.

2010 Audi S4

2010 Audi S4