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Audi S4 (1998 - 2009)

S EXPRESS (some text hidden)

BY ANDY ENRIGHT

Introductionword count: 90

Quick, understated and ineffably elegant, Audi's S4 has long been cast as the more cerebral alternative to BMW's M3. If it has never been regarded as quite as focused as its Bavarian equivalent, it makes a satisfying compromise between the diamond-honed M3 and the autobahn storming Mercedes AMG models. With fantastic build quality and a knowledgeable client base, the S4 makes one of the best used performance car buys. Whether you opt for the 2.7-litre twin turbo cars or one of the later 4.2-litre V8 models, you'll be guaranteed fun.

Modelsword count: 28

Models Covered: A4 - 1998-TO DATE: 1998-2001: B5 SERIES 2.7 LITRE TWIN TURBO S4 SALOON AND ESTATE 2002- TO DATE: B6 SERIES 4.2-LITRE V8 SALOON, ESTATE AND CABRIOLET

Historyword count: 401

Those of you who know your Audis will at this point interject with the fact that there was an Audi S4 marketed in the UK well before 1998. The original S4 - or as some enthusiasts call it the Ur-S4 - was based on an Audi 100 and was powered by a 227bhp engine, never really living up to its billing as Audi's BMW M5 challenger. These years weren't a standout period for Audi sports models. The Quattro was dead and its successor didn't reap a whole heap of critical acclaim. The 1998 launch of the S4, based on the A4 range, did much to rectify this situation. With 265bhp on tap from a twin turbo 2.7-litre V6 engine, the S4 certainly was never shy of power. Quattro four-wheel drive meant that it was able to deploy this urge in wet or dry conditions and it proved an instant sales success. The S4 underwent a very mild facelift in January 1999. A new corporate grille appeared (evocative of the TT) as well as smaller mirrors, glossy finish door pillars, new wheel options, more elegant door handles and an edgier tail lamp treatment. Diminutive foglamps squinted from the base of the front spoiler, whilst xenon headlamps appeared on the options list. The steering was firmed up a little and there were some detail changes made to the suspension. More airbags were also fitted as standard. An E-GAS 'drive by wire' throttle system enabled the fitment of sophisticated ESP stability control systems. Available as both a four-door saloon and a five-door estate, the S4 spawned the RS4 Avant in 2000, a 380bhp monster that's so specialist it should be considered a separate model in its own right In winter 2000, the all-new A4 range was introduced. With styling reminiscent of the A6, then new car marked the first significant departure from the styling which had made the A4 such a success. The S4 was quietly phased out in July 2001 but Audi had serious plans up their sleeves. It wasn't until October 2002 that these plans were made metal and found their way into UK dealers. The 4.2-litre V8 S4 raised the performance bar yet again and with 344bhp on tap it was, for a while at least, the most powerful compact executive sportster available. Both saloon and Avant versions were available from launch with a stunning Cabriolet version debuting in late 2003.

What You Getword count: 327

A state-of-the-art front or four-wheel drive chassis; elegant, well-proportioned looks, superb build-quality and, so far, good reliability. Equipment levels are high but you won't buy an S4 for its showroom appeal. The RS4 apart, it's hard to think of another sports saloon or estate that could rush you front point to point on any roads in any weather quite as quickly. According to Audi's technical people, the 2.7-litre engine develops so much torque that they couldn't find an automatic gearbox capable of taking it. This is one reason for a slightly heavy clutch which, for the uninitiated, can make the change from 1st gear to 2nd somewhat jerky. The V8 car is a real work of art. Pop the bonnet and it seems as if Audi have put a quart in a pint pot, the big V8 filling the bay to such an extent that there's little more than finger width around its perimeter. It wasn't merely a case of taking the 4.2-litre V8 from the A8 and bolting it into the A4. It has been thoroughly re-engineered, with all the mechanicals responsible for driving the pumps, valve gear and so on taken from the front of the engine and squeezed into a gap at the back between the engine block and the flywheel. The net result is a far more compact arrangement, but Audi have also aimed at cutting weight. With lighter pistons and conrods, this engine weighs no more than the old S4's twin turbo V6. The interior is what we've come to expect from Audi. Beautifully screwed together, predominantly black and styled with effortless cool, the S4's only Achilles heel in this instance is that the driving position feels a little too high. Some may grumble that the interior is too similar to any other A4 and having seen the design direction Audi have taken with the A8, perhaps this generation A4 is the last to go down the minimalist 'black is best' route.

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Pictures (high res disabled)

Statistics (subset of data only)

Min

Max

0-62 mph (s):

5.1

Boot capacity min (litres):

480

962

Combined mpg:

28.2

CO2 (g/km):

234

Extra urban mpg:

37.2

Height (mm):

1406

... and 8 other stats available

Scoring (subset of scores)

Category: Sporting Cars

Performance
50%
Handling
70%
Comfort
60%
Space
70%
Styling, Build, Value, Equipment, Depreciation, Handling, Insurance and Total scores are available with our full data feed.

This is an excerpt from our full review.
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