Regardless of the cause, a hiatus is almost always a sign of good things to come. The need to disappear for a while is felt by folks ranging from college students to pop singers and Fortune 500 executives. It’s a chance to recharge one’s batteries, refill the creative coffer, and sharpen dulled and overworked senses. Out of the mainstream, we’re free to reflect, reevaluate, and rebuild. It’s the same approach Audi used when redesigning its S4 sedan, a model that exited stage left after 2008, only to reappear for 2010 with a new look and a new take on what constitutes a luxurious sport sedan. After a week of testing, we think it’s clear that the Audi S4’s time away was spent wisely.
Photos courtesy of Audi.
#10. Once available as a convertible and wagon, the 2010 Audi S4 is offered as a sedan only.
In days past, there was an S4 model to suit most any lifestyle. From sedan to cabriolet (convertible) to avant (wagon), Audi made it possible for everyone from sun-worshipping retirees to overextended soccer moms to have a hooligan’s good time while behind the wheel. Since then, the S4 wagon has fallen off the radar and the cabriolet variant has been replaced by the S5 drop top. That leaves only the sedan to represent the 2010 Audi S4 lineup. As a result, buyers looking for a genuine S4 Avant competitor will need to consider alternatives like the BMW 535i xDrive Sports Wagon and the Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon 3.6L.
#9. The T in the 3.0T badge may have you thinking turbocharger, but...
With a lineup that has included models such as the turbocharged A4 1.8T and A3 2.0T, we’ve all come to associate that “T” with boosted power. The same logic has been applied to Audi’s TFSI (Turbocharged Fuel Stratified Injection) technology. Therefore, it may surprise you to discover that the 2010 Audi S4, which sports a 3.0T badge on its flanks, cranks out 333 horses and 325 lb-ft. of torque thanks to a supercharger and dual intercoolers. The other part of that name, 3.0, signifies the presence of a 3.0-liter V6 engine rather than the previous S4’s thumping 4.2-liter V8. All told, the new-and-improved 2010 S4 outdoes its predecessor by 23 lb.-ft. of twist, but gives up seven ponies in the process.
#8. The S4’s V8 may be gone, but no one will be complaining about 28 mpg.
Normally, motorheads like us would bemoan the loss of another V8 from the sport sedan arena, but it’s hard to argue with stats like 333 horsepower and 28 mpg. That’s what the EPA suggests you’ll see on the highway in a 2010 Audi S4 equipped with an optional seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission. Opt for a six-speed manual like we had in our test car, and that rating drops by a hair to 27 mpg. Regardless of which gearbox suits your fancy, the S4 will deliver an EPA-estimated 18 mpg in the city. By comparison, the previous V8-powered S4 topped out at 21 mpg on the highway and 14 mpg around town.
#7. Think of the 2010 Audi S4 as an A4 with a generous serving of attitude.
For some brands, developing a sport model involves little more than tweaking an existing vehicle by adding a few badges, a new set of alloys, and perhaps a nifty spoiler. Thankfully, that’s not the case with the 2010 Audi S4. Delivering the only V6 in the A4 lineup, the S4 is further differentiated by specific nomenclature inside and out, unique front and rear styling, 18-inch wheels, and a rear-biased version of Audi’s famed quattro all-wheel-drive technology. Other S4 details include a three-spoke steering wheel, improved brakes, and a sport suspension system. Put it all together and you have a more intimidating, not to mention more capable, Audi A4.
#6. Quattro with Sport Rear Differential promises even better handling.
Much like Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system, the new quattro with Sport Rear Differential offered on the 2010 Audi S4 is able to distribute engine power not only between the front and rear axles, but also between each rear wheel. This technology directs a greater percentage of torque to the outer rear wheel while cornering, which helps to limit understeer and improve handling and stability.
#5. The 2010 Audi S4: Proof that you can have your cake and eat it, too.
On the day our S4 test car arrived, the skies had opened and filled the streets with what could best be described as a winter smoothie of snow, rain, and ice. We looked at the low-slung, supercharged Audi and thought that, despite the inclusion of quattro all-wheel drive, this rig could’ve come at a better time. Then we hopped behind the wheel and immediately realized that the 2010 Audi S4 was decidedly sure-footed, leaving slipping and sliding to the industry’s all-wheel-drive newbies. Aside from being conscious of the nicely-painted front spoiler, we didn’t worry about the S4 in the rough stuff. Even more impressive was how this sedan performed on dry pavement. While traveling around town at slow speeds, the S4 served as a smooth and refined family sedan, albeit one with a noticeably taut suspension; out of town, the S4 completely changed character as we lit up the supercharger with a downshift and tackled straights and corners with confidence aplenty.
#4. MMI continues to grow on us, but we’d still prefer simpler controls.
As we reported in our review of the Q5, Audi’s MMI (Multi Media Interface) technology makes routine procedures more complicated than they need to be. To be fair, the same can be said of competing systems like BMW’s iDrive and Mercedes-Benz’s Comand. In terms of Audi’s MMI, and specifically the 2010 S4, making adjustments to the cabin temperature and fan speed is relatively simple, though many such changes involve the use of multiple buttons and knobs. Turning the driver’s heated seat up a notch or off, for example, requires tapping the correct button and then rotating the left dial accordingly. These complaints may sound trivial, but the unnecessary steps become annoyances over time, and may make you wonder who did away with something so obvious as an OFF button.
#3. Though built for performance, the 2010 Audi S4 is a comfortable long-haul companion.
As is the case with every test car, we spent a week with the 2010 Audi S4, racking up hundreds of miles and evaluating all that this supercharged four-door had to offer. This required long hours behind the wheel, and if you’ve been in any number of stiffly-sprung sport sedans, you know that the experience isn’t always pleasant. We, and specifically, our backs, are happy to report that the S4 doled out comfort and performance in equal parts. Mostly. Deeply-bucketed and bolstered front seats, complete with power lumbar adjustments and six settings for heat, kept us comfortable during one 300-mile day, though we did wish for a bit more lower-cushion support at times. However, you won’t hear us complaining about the adjustable center armrest that put the stick shift right at our fingertips. Getting into the driver’s seat was another matter; with the seat set for the correct driving position, we found ourselves repeatedly banging a knee against the dash upon entry.
#2. Our S4 test car rang up at about $51,000, or $3,000 less than a comparable BMW 3 Series.
Prices for the 2010 Audi S4 start at about $46,000. That’s for the so-called basic model, a Premium Plus edition with the standard six-speed manual tranny. Opt for the S4 Prestige, which includes niceties such as driver-side memory settings as well as a Bang & Olufsen sound system, and you’ll need to fork over at least $52,000. Factor in an additional $1,400 if you’re a fan of the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Our tester, a Premium Plus model tricked out with Sprint Blue paint, two-one Silk Nappa leather upholstery, a navigation system, and the aforementioned Bang & Olufsen audio setup, crossed the block at roughly $51,000. That figure represents a lot of hard-earned greenbacks, yet it’s worth noting that buyers will spend $3,000 more for a comparably-equipped 2010 BMW 335i xDrive sedan.
#1. Audi’s new S4 is faster, more powerful, and more efficient than the BMW 335i xDrive.
Though you could lump cars like the Mercedes-Benz C350 and Acura TL SH-AWD in with the 2010 Audi S4, the model likely to be compared most often is the BMW 335i xDrive. That’s the all-wheel-drive variant of BMW’s 300-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 3 Series sedan, a vehicle widely recognized as the top dog in its class. As noted, our test car was less expensive than a comparably-equipped 335i xDrive, but it delivered an extra 33 horsepower and 25 lb.-ft. of torque, was capable of reaching 60 mph nearly a half second quicker, and beat the Bimmer’s EPA-estimated fuel economy across the board. Is the new S4 a better choice? The answer to that question depends on individual tastes, but Audi has certainly proven its redesigned sport sedan worthy of consideration by anyone shopping for a thrilling yet refined daily commuter.