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Audi S4: Less motor, more grip, and it all makes sense

Audi S4

Great article here about the Audi S4 which is one of the best drives in Audi’s line-up.

So Audi has downsized the cylinder count, lifted the fuel economy and cut the price. Is this austerity, or what?

Not exactly, because the S4 is also faster. With either the 6-speed manual transmission or the 7-speed automated manual, the S4 will sprint from a stop to 60 miles per hour in a bit less than five seconds, about a half-second quicker than the old S4 with the V-8.

In fact, this supercharged V-6 feels more potent than the V-8 although its horsepower is nominally less. That’s because you had to wind the V-8 to within a hair of the rev limiter to extract its power, while the V-6’s forced induction helps it pump out piles of accessible torque at low engine speeds. The 3-liter V-6, despite giving up 1.2 liters of displacement to the V-8, produces 325 pound-feet — 23 more than the 8-cylinder could muster. And you can feel it.

In any previous Audi review (save for those of the midengine R8), this would be the place where there’d be a caveat about the handling. Audis are based on front-wheel-drive platforms, so they have a pronounced front-end weight bias. This means that, when driven hard, the front tires will want to push wide in corners.

But I drove the new S4 on a tight road course, and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that this is the first Audi sedan that truly dances. Its all comes down to the “sport rear differential,” an $1,100 option that any serious driver should consider mandatory.