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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Audi S4 Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2004 Audi S4 Overview

Audi Tears the Roof Off

Oh Audi, you temptress most foul: here you've brought us the most desirable convertible since the introduction of the TT, only to dash our hopes by bringing a mere 2100 units to market this year. The car we are referring to is the stunning new S4 Cabriolet, a four-passenger Teutonic terror with the road prowess of an exotic sports car and the exterior styling of, well, an Audi!

The S4 comes to market with some very potent features, including its impressive starting price of $53,000. Now we know this may sound like a pretty hefty price tag, but you must remember that the S4's primary competition sells for well above this figure and offer many of the S4's standard features as optional equipment. The S4 not only bests its closest competitors in price—the BMW M3 and Mercedes CLK55 AMG— it also trumps them in horsepower while offering as standard a feature unavailable on the other two: quattro all-wheel-drive.

Audi's mission with the S4 was to blend the type of sophistication found in its A8 sedan with the power and performance attributes of its TT roadster and S4 sedan. To this extent, they seem to have hit the mark. The S4's exterior styling builds on the beautiful lines of the A4 Cabriolet, but adds subtle yet definitive touches such as a chrome windshield surround and chrome exterior mirrors, larger 18-inch alloy wheels and large air intakes in the lower front bumpers. Lift the hood and the power side of the S4 equation comes into view: a 340-horsepower, 40-valve 4.2-liter V8. This magnificent powerplant is deceptively smooth and quiet at idle, but once you hit the accelerator, the finely-tuned European exhaust note lets you know that you've awakened a sleeping giant. The S4 rockets off the line, charging from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds. What's more, the quattro permanent all-wheel-drive holds the S4's tires so tightly to the road that wheel spin is now a thing of the past.

During our brief time in the S4, we found every element of the driving experience to be superb. In braking, acceleration, and handling, not a bad thought crossed our minds. Our six-speed manual shifted with ease, though the distance the shifter travels between gears was a bit longer than we'd like. Audi offers the option of a six-speed Tiptronic automatic for those who dislike the use of a clutch pedal.

On the road, the S4 rides as smoothly as an A8 yet tackles turns without a trace of excessive body lean or roll. The steering feel is a bit softer than that found on the BMW M3, but is outstanding in its own right. We loved the way the quattro moves the S4 through curves and the way the form-fitting bucket seats held us firmly in place.

Speaking of the bucket seats, we not only loved the way these held us during spirited drives, but also how long we could remain seated without suffering back or leg fatigue. The combination leather and Alcantara (a suede-like material) helped keep the seating surfaces cool while the power adjustable lumbar and thigh supports helped keep us comfy. The S4 interior again builds from the handsome dash and door panel designs of the A4, but adds its own special touches such as S emblems on the dash and three-spoke steering wheel, a choice of wood or carbon fiber inlays and special gauges and needles are unique to the S models.

Audi interiors have long been amongst the most beautiful in the industry and not just for their immediate visual presentation. At night, the gauge cluster glows a brilliant white, set against the backdrop of the signature Audi red dash lighting; there is additional lighting in the floor wells, on the door and in the base of the rear-view mirror. It's one spectacular show.

Of course, one of the most important features on any convertible is its top. The S4 features a triple-layer power soft top that can retract and tuck itself away in a mere 24 seconds. When in place, the S4's interior is as quiet as its sedan counterpart. Wind buffeting and air circulation are so well controlled in the S4 that even when the top was down, we found it easy to carry on a conversation without shouting.

While the S4 is a very comfortable ride for two people, the same cannot be said when you add rear seat passengers. The S4's rear accommodations, though larger than its competition, are still cramped quarters best used only for short trips. The trunk also is a bit on the small side but does feature a nifty ski bag pass-through feature. On the Safety front, the S4 features the latest safety innovations, including front and side-impact airbags, pop-up rollover protection from the rear bulkhead and reinforced A-pillars that add both protection and rigidity.

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