Ever since the start of the 21st century, Audi has offered high-performance “S” offshoots of some of its “A” models, including the compact A4 sedan. After redesigning the A4 for 2017, Audi continued the two-version strategy by preparing a reworked S4 for the 2018 season. Aside from a fresh look, there's new interior tech and a stronger V6 engine.
What's New for 2018
After a year’s absence, the S4 sedan is back in Audi’s lineup, in redesigned form, following the lead of the latest A4 model. Externally, the 2018 S4 gets a more angular version of the A4's grille, fresh headlights, and new taillights, among other modifications. Inside, new seats have more prominent bolstering, and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster – Audi's popular Virtual Cockpit – display screen is available. The new 3.0-liter V6 engine gains 21 horsepower and 44 pound-feet of torque.
Choosing Your Audi S4
Engine displacement hasn’t changed, but the new 3.0-liter V6 generates 354 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. A new eight-speed automatic transmission has replaced the former seven-speed dual-clutch unit. The new V6 uses a twin-scroll turbocharger, rather than the supercharger installed on the last-generation S4.
As before, Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system is standard. Audi claims a best-in-class sprint to 60 miles per hour of just 4.4 seconds. Fuel economy is estimated by the EPA at 21 miles per gallon city, 30 highway, 24 combined.
Ride height is 0.9-inch lower than the regular A4. An upgraded suspension and speed-sensitive steering promise sharper, more precise handling.
An optional adaptive damping suspension can adjust its function as conditions vary. Also optional is a more aggressive rear differential, which can actively split torque between the left and right wheels at the rear. Both features are included in the $2,500 S Sport Package. Another option, dynamic steering ($1,150), provides a variable steering ratio that changes according to vehicle speed and the drive mode setting.
The standard Audi Drive Select system still offers a choice of four modes: Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, and Individual. Mode selection lets the driver alter shift points, steering, and throttle response – plus damper control and adaptive cruise control, if installed.
Seating up to four occupants, the S4 features leather and Alcantara seating surfaces with an embossed S4 logo in the backrest. Outside, quad exhaust outlets and trunk-lid lip spoiler are telltale signs of higher performance. Driver-assistance features include forward collision warning with auto emergency braking as standard, while Audi's Pre Sense Rear safety system can anticipate a rear-end collision and take steps to protect the driver and passengers. Bang and Olufsen audio features 3D sound with 19 speakers.
Two trim levels are offered:
The S4's two trims share a number of option groups. Cold ($500) and Hot Weather ($950) packages add climate-appropriate options, ranging from a heated steering wheel to vented seats, while an S Sport Package ($2,500) adds the adaptive damper system and Sport differential, as well as painted brake calipers. Dynamic Steering ($1,150) is also available.
Most compact Audi sedan buyers should be more than satisfied with a regular A4. For enthusiasts, on the other hand, the performance and ride/handling attributes of the S4 are a must. Audi has made quite a few improvements for the latest S4, which went on sale as an early 2018 model. Turning to Prestige trim, for an additional $4,900, adds a couple of safety features and navigation that are nice, but we'd be thrilled with a Premium Plus and the Technology Package's Virtual Cockpit.