Stuck Amid Two 3s: Audi Believes It Has the Supercharged Solution to Your Bavarian Dilemma
Deciding between a 300-hp BMW 335i and a 414-hp M3? Well-equipped, the former costs around $50,000 while the latter runs near $70,000. Fortunately, Audi has just the solution. For an estimated $60,000 loaded, the 2010 S4, due to go on sale in fall 2009, presents an option that, in price and performance, falls neatly among the two 3s.
Given the slumping economy and the fear of high fuel prices, V-8-powered sport sedans are suffering from an image problem. But what if there were a replacement for displacement? Audi has one, and it’s called, “3.0 TFSI.” Traditionally for Audi, the “T” in a badge has represented a turbocharger. But in the case of the new S4, it stands for an Eaton Roots-type supercharger replete with two four-vane rotary pistons and maximum boost of 11.6 psi
Not only does the Audi blower — similar to the units Eaton supplies to GM for the Corvette ZR1 and Cadillac CTS-V — help the S4’s direct-injected 3.0-liter V-6 crank out 333 linear horsepower at 5500 rpm and 325 progressive pound-feet at 2900, but it does so without the shrilling whine normally associated with superchargers. In fact, only under wide-open throttle does a faint hum emanate into the cabin.
Paired with the standard Getrag six-speed manual, which offers an effortless albeit slightly rubbery feel, the V-6 whips the S4 from 0 to 62 mph in just 5.1 sec, according to Audi, or about the same time it takes the current, 340-hp V-8 S4. For the ultimate compromise of speed and practicality, there is the new seven-speed Stronic dual-clutch automatic, which needs only 5.3 ticks. Better yet, Audi predicts either will deliver fuel economy of at least 17 city/26 hwy, superior figures compared to those of the previous 4.2L V-8 (13-14/20-21).
Regardless of gearbox, the S4 provides the confidence-inspiring traction of a rear-biased 40/60 quattro all-wheel-drive system, 245/40R18 Bridgestone Potenza RE050A summer tires, hefty 13.6-in. front/13.0-in. rear brakes, and, new for 2010, an optional rear sport differential that routs torque side to side depending on steering angle, lateral acceleration, and yaw rate.
Of course, like the new A4, the S4 can be had with the Audi drive select variable damping system, which provides three settings (Comfort, Auto, and Dynamic) as well as myriad customizable configurations via the Multi-Media Interface. Moreover, depending on the setting, ADS alters the characteristics of the steering, transmission, throttle, and sport diff accordingly.
Audi claims the S4 will start at around $49,000, a price tag that includes bi-Xenon headlamps, Bluetooth, heated leather sport seats, aluminum-look mirror housings, a sunroof, and the now-trademarked front LED daytime running lights. Go for an optioned-up version-add roughly $3000 for the ADS, $900 for the sport diff, $1000 for 19-in., RS-style wheels with 255/35 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT tires, $1300 for the S tronic, $2400 for navigation, $900 for the Bang & Olufsen audio, etc.-and you can expect the aforementioned 60 large, maybe more.
But, if you’re ever stuck choosing between a couple of BMWs, look to the S4’s LEDs-they could help you make a clearer decision.
|2010 Audi S4|
|Base Price||$49,000 (est)|
|Vehicle Layout||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|Engine||3.0L/333-hp/325-lb-ft supercharged DOHC 24-valve V-6|
|Transmission||6-speed manual, 7-speed dual-clutch automatic|
|Curb Weight||3700 lb (mfr)|
|Length x Width x Height||185.7 x 71.9 x 41.2 in|
|0-62 mph||5.1-5.3 sec (mfr est)|
|EPA City/Hwy fuel econ||17 / 26-27 mpg (mfr est)|
|CO2 Emissions||0.95 lb/mile (est)|
|On Sale In U.S.||Fall 2009|