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Driven: Audi S4 slips in under $100,000

Turbo return: Audi’s S4 has once again adopted the recipe of a turbocharged V6 for its powertrain, but at its most affordable starting price in 20 years.

Most affordable Audi S4 to date checks in at $99,900 BOCs

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Audi logo10 Feb 2017

By DANIEL GARDNER

AUDI has declared war in the hot executive sedan arena with a razor sharp price for the fifth generation of its A4-based S4, marking the first time in its 20-year history that the price has dropped below $100,000.

With a starting price of $99,900 before on-road costs, the all-new S4 undercuts arch-rival Mercedes-AMG and its new C43 by $2000 and Jaguar’s XE S by $5165, but cannot quite match the compelling $89,895 starting bid for BMW’s equivalent 340i.

For the latest version, Audi has gone back to its roots and dropped the supercharger of the previous generation car in favour of a turbocharged V6 as per the original A4-based S4, although capacity has increased to around 3.0-litres from 2.7-litres taking power up to 260kW from 195kW.

Compared with the outgoing supercharged S4, power is up 15kW and 60Nm (now 500Nm) from the same sized engine, while performance and efficiency has also been boosted by a reduced kerb weight – down 75kg.

Like the fourth-generation S4, the latest in Audi’s lineage of hot A4s is offered as a four-door, five-seat sedan or a boot-boosted Avant wagon for $102,900.

For sedan versions, the 1630kg S4 can accelerate from zero to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds and has the potential to use 7.7 litres of fuel per 100km on the combined cycle, while the 1675kg Avant takes 4.9 seconds to sprint from zero to 100km/h and uses 7.8L/100km.

The 90-degree TFSI V6 has a single turbo located in the valley of the cylinder banks with two separate turbine scrolls supplied by individual exhaust manifolds for increased responsiveness and a maximum relative boost pressure of 1.3 bar.

New alloy block construction has saved 14kg of weight while iron cylinder liners have thinner walls resulting in a more compact unit overall.

Unlike the European line-up which offers a manual version, Australia will be offered only the eight-speed torque-converter Tiptronic automatic transmission, which sends power to all four corners via a Torsen-type centre differential and Audi’s trademark Quattro four-wheel drive system.

Under a majority of driving conditions, 60 per cent of available torque is directed to the rear axle but with changing conditions, driving mode and behaviour, the system can allocate up to 85 per cent to the back end and a maximum of 85 per cent to the front.

For more efficient motoring, a freewheel function disconnects the transmission from the final drive if the throttle is released between speeds of 55km/h and 160km/h. Idle-stop technology also contributes to fuel savings when in heavy traffic.

Torque vectoring enables the S4 to maintain a more consistent course through sharp and high-speed cornering, while high-performance handling and road holding can be further enhanced with an optional Quattro sport differential for $2950.

Audi’s five-link suspension system and electro-mechanical steering system has been honed for the new S4 with ride height lowered 23mm compared with the standard A4, for sporty dynamics and rewarding driving but a compliant ride when cruising.

Customers are offered an upgrade to variable dynamic steering, which also adds adaptive dampers.

Engine, transmission, steering and exhaust note (and sport diff and dynamic damper behaviour where fitted) is controlled by the central Audi Drive Select system, which offers comfort, auto, efficiency, dynamic or individual modes.

Braking is managed by 350mm iron discs at the front end and six-pot callipers housed in 19-inch wheels.

For the new S4, Audi built on the standard A4’s cabin including the full-width air-vents, central 8.3-inch MMI monitor and 12.3-inch virtual cockpit digital instrument display, and added a number of sporty touches to enhance the boosted performance.

Standard matte brushed aluminium trims can be upgraded to carbon-fibre as part of the $5900 S Performance pack, which also upgrades the seats to sports versions with diamond-pattern Nappa leather with extra adjustment, massage functions and heaters. Brake callipers are also decorated in red as part of the bundle.

For another $5600, customers can add the Technik pack which upgrades the standard eight-speaker sound system to a 19-speaker version by Bang & Olufsen, a head-up display and, on the outside, Audi Matrix LED headlights.

Standard tech features include Audi Connect which allows access to internet-based services such as Google Earth, email and Wi-Fi hotspot for providing internet for other devices.

A standard smartphone interface allows the connection of iOS and Android handsets in addition to Bluetooth and USB connections.

Driver assistance systems include adaptive cruise control that includes steering assistance as well as altering speed according to traffic conditions.

The same system uses navigation information to offer the driver Predictive Efficiency tips, which can improve fuel economy by as much as 10 per cent, says Audi.

The rear cross-traffic function warns the driver of approaching vehicles when reversing out of a parking space and can apply a jolt to the brakes if warnings are ignored. An additional exit warning system uses the same sensors to warn an occupant exiting the car of approaching traffic with LED lights on the door trims.

A forward collision avoidance system can warn the driver if colliding with an obstacle is likely but can also apply braking and steering assistance if the driver does not react in time, while a turn assist feature can prevent collisions when crossing busy carriageways or junctions.

Lane departure warning, assistance and blind-spot monitoring complete the electronic safety systems.

Customers opting for the Avant get a load area that increases from 480 litres for the sedan to 580L but that figure increases to 1510L with the 40:20:40 split rear seat folded. Sedan load space increases to 965L.

Access to the Avant boot is via a power-operated tailgate, which can be opened by a foot movement under the rear bumper if the user’s hands are full. The sedan is also offered the same feature but without the power boot lid.

Avant customers can boost the practicality of their hot wagon with a luggage compartment pack that adds cargo nets, tie-down rail and partition.

2017 Audi S4 pricing*
Sedan (a)$99,900
Avant (a)$102,900
*Excludes on-road costs

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