Ah, the 2018 Audi S4, continuing proof that good things come in small packages. Yes, I know, they’ve gotten bigger since the first iteration, and yes, I know, they are more complex than they used to be, but these little brutes are still a total hoot, and giant killers to the unsuspecting.
The recipe applied to the Audi S4 is one as old as time, or, more accurately, as old as the automobile itself:
Step 1 – Find a small car;
Step 2 – Find the biggest motor that will fit into the engine bay of small car (see Step 1);
Step 3 – Stuff big engine into small car;
Step 4 – Enjoy!
Step 5 is optional: Have contact info of Priest, Rabbi, Minister, or Mortician handy.
Audi has been at this for a time, with varying degrees of success/reliability/sanity. Didn’t they cram a little V8 into an S4 at one point? Or was that the RS? At any rate, the S4 stands as both a too fun car to drive and a testament that Audi is anything but a stodgy, engineering-based German car company. Remember, these are the yahoos that created the Sport Quattro S1 E2 and handed it to non compos mentis types like Walter Röhrl and Michèle Mouton and said, “see how fast you can make it to the top of that mountain.”
They were also the same people that put the drivetrain from the Allroad into an S4, and, c’mon, that’s kind of dumb (from a reliability standpoint).
Right, so here we are with the new, 2018 Audi S4.
Engine & Transmission
The new for 2018 S4 is driven by a 3.0-liter TFSI V6 engine, tweaked to deliver more horsepower and torque. Specifically it cranks out 354 horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque. That is, technically speaking, a lot of power and grunt from such a small package. Audi says it’s up by 21 horsepower and 44 lb-ft of torque from the previous engine. It’s also worth noting how the power band is nice and wide, from 1,370 to 4,500 rpm.
The supercharger from the previous generation is gone, swapped for a single turbocharger to force induction.
The mill is connected to a standard eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmission, with lower gears featuring short, sporty ratios and longer upper cogs to help keep engine revs lower at cruising speeds.
Like I should even have to point this out, but all Audi S4s come standard with the quattro all-wheel drive system. Not only is this a given, but it also makes sense in putting all that power and torque to the bahn. It also ensures you’ll fire off the line like a bug with a Claymore mine strapped to its butt. Out back there’s an available Quattro sport rear differential, actively splitting torque between the rear wheels.
These things combined help the 2018 Audi S4 hit a class-leading and dynamic 0-60 time of 4.4 seconds. And speaking of dynamics, the chassis and suspension have been worked over too.
Ride & Handling
For starters, there is the standard Audi drive select that gives you four different modes to choose from: comfort, auto, dynamic, and individual. These permit the driver to change shift points, alter steering and throttle response, and other available settings, as well as adjust the adaptive cruise control. There’s an optional sport adaptive damping suspension package with a new suspension control unit too.
You can also opt for something called dynamic steering, which gets you a variable steering ratio based on vehicle speed and the Audi drive select setting.
Design-wise the 2018 S4 gets the “latest refinements” so it stays current with the rest of the Audi line. I’ll leave that up to the eye of the beholder whether any of that works or not. Naturally, since this an S4, you get the aluminum-optic exterior side mirror housings, Platinum Gray Singleframe grille with aluminum-optic double blade bars, S model specific quad exhaust outlets, and a rear trunk lid lip spoiler.
Subtle, but enough is there to let the cognoscenti know what they’re dealing with.
You also get 18-inch 5-double-spoke-star design wheels with standard summer tires. There’s also (optional) 19-inch 5-spoke-V design wheels with summer tires if that’s your thing. Full LED headlights with LED daytime running lights and LED taillights with dynamic turn signals are standard. Also standard are auto-dimming, power folding, heated exterior mirrors – there are optional red brake calipers in the S sport package if you’re a bit more on the flashy side.
On the inside there’s a 3-spoke multifunction flat-bottom steering wheel with shift paddles and S badging. The eight-way power front seats with four-way power lumbar support and memory are heated. The seats are actually really fancy: they are diamond stitched S sport seats with power side bolsters, and a massage function. Also standard is three-zone automatic climate control with digital rear display; dual pane acoustic glass for the front side windows is optional.
Finally, a Bang & Olufsen stereo with 3D sound is available.
Trim Levels & Pricing
The 2018 Audi S4 comes in two basic flavors: Premium Plus and Prestige. They will set you back $50,900 (USD) for the Premium Plus and $55,800 for the Prestige. Yes, that’s a lot, but even at that price, it’s a hard little car to argue with.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.