A Sublime Cruiser

Powerful and comfortable, the S4 is one for the demanding executive.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Powerful and comfortable, the S4 is one for the demanding executive.

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Audi S4

It used to be that performance was a mutually exclusive entity. You couldn’t have a highperformance car that was comfortable or practical. But that changed when Audi introduced its S models some 18 years ago. Audi’s S cars were designed to meld performance and practicality and the latest in the long line of everyday, all-weather, do-everything cars is the newest edition of the S4.

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The S4 is the perfect example of a sleeper car. Unless you are a hardcore Audi fanatic, you would be hardpressed to tell that the S4 packs some serious hardware under its hood. You need to know where to look. The grille has a different design, there are quad tailpipes (two on each side), the sills are slightly swollen, and the side mirrors have silver housings. Depending on your personal preferences, you might think it either looks understated and elegant or sedated and boring.
What’s definitely not boring is its drivetrain. The S4 sports a new 3.0-liter turbocharged V6. Power output is a meaty 354hp and 500nm of torque. 0-100km/h is claimed to happen in 4.4 seconds and top speed is, like most German sedans, electronically limited to 250km/h.
Audi’s claimed performance figures seem spot on. Despite weighing over 1,600kg, the S4 takes off with surprising agility and urgency. With my right foot buried in the carpet, I was soon doing license-busting speeds. It revs smoothly too and it makes a surprisingly intoxicating sound in the process too. It isn’t too noisy or raucous as to be annoying and is just gritty and naughty enough to be exciting.
The wonderful thing about modern turbocharged engines is the wave of torque that they produce. In the S4, peak torque is delivered from as low as 1,370rpm, which means you are never short of shove. Overtaking is a breeze and addictive in the S4. Planting your foot down and watching the S4 leave traffic behind is something that most drivers, I think, will never get tired of.
That said, the S4 is more of a straight line bruiser as opposed to a corner devourer. Body roll is surprisingly minimal in a car of its class, and thanks to the S4’s Quattroall-wheel-drive system, grip levels are impressive and you need to be really brave (or foolish) to get the car unstuck. However, the steering is numb, which doesn’t inspire confidence. It doesn’t help also thatthe 8-speed transmission can at timesbe hesitant on downshifts. As a result,it is on the highways that the S4 feelsmost in its element. 
Further reinforcing S4’s cruising credentials is its modern yet classy interior. The new interior is part of a major revamp on Audi’s part and it is well-judged. One of the highlights of the S4’s interior is its massaging chairs, which has no less than three massaging modes. Coupled with the S4’s supple and accommodating ride, this makes cross-island drives surprisingly enjoyable.
Another highlight of the interior has got to be the Audi Virtual Cockpit, which eschews traditional analog dials for a thoroughly modern 12.3-inch high-resolution display. The use of an LCD display is modern and practical as it can be customized to show the most relevant information to drivers. Trying to find your way to a building that you have never been before? Simply switch up the display and enlarge the map. Apple fans will also be happy to learn that the S4 comes with CarPlay support as standard.
Seating space is decent for a compact executive sedan and definitely on a par with its rivals. My occupants in the rear did not complain about any discomfort. Boot space is good too and can easily swallow large items like strollers and boxes. And should you need more space, the rear seats can be folded to double carrying capacity from 480 to 965 liters.
In short, the S4 continues Audi’s fine tradition of building highperformance sedans that are fast and are comfortable and practical enough for everyday use. Sometimes, you really can have your cake and eat it too.
The front driver and passenger seats have
massaging functions.
The front driver and passenger seats have massaging functions.
The interior of the S4 is thoroughly modern.
The interior of the S4 is thoroughly modern.
The turbocharged V6 in the S4 is a tower of
The turbocharged V6 in the S4 is a tower of power.
3.0-liter turbocharged V6
354hp / 500nm 
By Kenny Yeo Pictures Audi