2011 Audi S4 Review

Overall Rating

  • Interior

  • On The Road

  • Ancap

  • Value For Money

  • See Full Specs

What’s Hot

Stunning powertrain from the old RS6 V6.

What’s Not

It’s $10K more than its nearest rival, the BMW 335i, but arguably not $10K better.

X Factor

S badge offers more than just a glitter pack – it is audible, rapid goodness.

  • Country of Origin
    GERMANY
  • Price
    $120,800 (plus on-road costs)
  • Engine
    6 Cylinders
  • Output
    245 kW / 440 Nm
  • Transmission
    Sports Automatic Dual Clutch
  • ANCAP Rating
    5
  • Airbags
    Side for 2nd Row Occupants (rear), Driver & Passenger (Dual), Head for 2nd Row Seats, Side for 1st Row Occupants (Front), Head for 1st Row Seats (Front)
  • L/100 km
    9.4
  • C02
    219 g/km
  • Luggage Capacity
    550 L
  • Towing (braked)
    1900 kg
  • Towing (unbraked)
    750 kg
Samantha Stevens | Jun 26, 2011 | 5 Comments

2011 AUDI S4 REVIEW

Vehicle Style: Four-door sedan
Price: $119,900

Fuel Economy (claimed): 9.6L/100km, 95RON minimum
Fuel Economy (tested): 13.4L/100km, 95RON

Audi is the master of the niche model, providing something for almost everyone, with a huge choice in body styles and drivetrains.

The 2011 Audi S4 fits in a nook at the top of the A4 sedan range, below the very slick (and just $15k dearer) S5 Sportback Quattro and the now-unavailable (but stupendous) RS4 super-saloon.

It’s a tough gig, but it’s charged with the hard task of splitting the difference at the sharp end of the Audi range.

INTERIOR

Quality: Always a strong point for Audi, the build quality of this car is superb. From identical-width shut lines between all panels, to a solid ‘thunk’ when the doors close, it is one of the best in its class.

Comfort: Audi has some of the best seats in the business, and the sports-oriented optional buckets of our S4 test model are no exception.

Doors swing wide both front and rear for easy entry and egress. There are no creature comforts missing; style is typical Germanic restraint – premium leather with contrasting hard surfaces.

It's only a shame that the ride comfort doesn’t correspond, particularly on skinny-wrapped 18-inch rims.

Equipment: As a luxury GT, equipment levels are expectedly high: dual-zone air-con (with solar sensor), a six-stack 10-speaker stereo with every conceivable plug-and-play; also Bluetooth and voice activation.

There are also front and rear parking sensors and an electric park-brake.

The list of options is unfortunately pricey, with such luxuries as hill-hold assist, sunroof, adaptive high-beams and adaptive cruise control, carbon or wood inlays, 19-inch rims, and ‘sports pack’ adaptive dampers and steering on the list.

Storage: Split-fold rear seats open up the big boot to 1430 litres from 490 litres - made larger by an inflatable space-saver tyre. A ski port is an optional extra.

ON THE ROAD

Driveability: The difference you feel at the wheel in the new S4 compared to its predecessor is palpable: and a marked improvement.

Where the old car ran a 253kW 4.2 litre V8, the current car packs a more advanced 245kW 3.0-litre supercharged V6 that loses nothing in performance, despite the lower output figure.

It’s matched to a seven-speed clutchless automatic (DSG) transmission and Audi’s quattro AWD system. The result is a very quick sprint to 100km/h in 5.3 seconds; not bad for a 1685kg sedan and faster than its predecessor.

Refinement: While it may have lost some kilowatts and decibels, the true advantage of the supercharged six is a refined and tractable powerplant that offers a fuel saving of 26 percent over its predecessor. Combined fuel consumption is a claimed 9.6 l/100km.

If you push the car though, it will drink accordingly (we averaged 13.4 l/100km).

Suspension: Audi still hasn’t found the sweet spot in its sporting sedans and hatches when it comes to Australian roads.

Again, it’s better than the last S4, which threatened to rattle molars from clenched jaws, but the ride is still overly firm on corrugations and uneven surfaces.

Put the current S4 on a winding road though, and it will atone for its rough around-town ride: the large four-door sitting neutral on cambered corners, its 18-inch 245/40s gripping tenaciously at the edge of traction.

The cashed-up enthusiast can solve some of these issues with a $6700 sports pack. This adds a rear limited-slip differential (LSD), adjustable suspension damping, sharper steering, and quicker gearbox shifts at the touch of a console-mounted button. (But it already has the S badge; the S button should really be a standard fixture.)

Braking: An uprated disc package fills out the 18-inch alloys, producing great hauling power with little fade after repeated use.

SAFETY

ANCAP rating: 5 stars

Safety features: Front, side and curtain airbags, front load limiter/pretensioner seatbelts, rear pretensioner seatbelts, active headrests, brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control, and electronic stability control.

WARRANTY AND SERVICING

Warranty: 3yr + roadside assist

Service costs: TBC

HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY

BMW 335i ($110,000) – The BMW could be called the lesser car: less weight, less fuel consumption, less driven wheels (but masses of grip), less power at 225kW, and, yes, costs $10K less. So less is more… (see 3 Series reviews)

Lexus IS F ($126,800) – An impressive 5.0-litre V8 and matching throaty vocals, but some still can’t shell out this amount for a close cousin of Toyota, no matter how good it is. (see Lexus IS reviews)

Audi S5 (from $138,900) – A 4.2 litre V8 offering a roaring 260kW at a free-revving 7000rpm peak. But the rear seat is cramped.

It also comes in a manual and in a coupe bodystyle (the Sportback), whereas you’re stuck with one body and one polarizing dual-clutch tranny with the S4.

Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

As the niche within a niche, the S4 is very well executed.

It’s fast, makes wonderful noises and is superbly built. But, ultimately, the S4 is an Autobahn-touring master that most will find too firm and uncompromising for our potholed city roads and lumpy byways.

However, step up with the adaptive damper package and you have a more polished ride in the rough, and a diamond on the open road.

Filed under: Featured, review, Audi, supercharged, awd, a4, Audi A4, sedan, automatic, performance, S4, audi s4, family, medium, Advice, special-featured, enthusiast, 6cyl, 4door, 7a, 2011 audi s4, audi a

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  • Poisson says,
    4 years ago
    I find it incredible that cruise control is an extra-cost option on a 120 grand car!
  • Buffy says,
    4 years ago
    Poisson - cruise control is not an extra - it is standard on every car Audi sells except for the entry point A1 and A3.
  • Tim O'Brien says,
    4 years ago
    Yo Poisson and Buffy, yup, S4 has cruise control; 'adaptive' cruise control is a cost option - stops you jamming yourself up the exhaust pipe of the car in front.

    The sentence was a little ambiguous; ambiguity now corrected.

    Tim
  • MotorMouth says,
    4 years ago
    Why would you pay $120,000 for this when an SS-V Redline is less than half as much and a G6E Turbo is even cheaper again? If you're worried about fuel consumption, then go for an HSV with LPi and save 40 grand. Hell, an R36 Passat made far more sense than this. Actually, apart from being plug ugly, the R36 is a good jigger. Pity they axed it.
  • Rob Hoath says,
    3 years ago
    Just bought an S4. It is an unbelievably good car. It is so smooth in normal driving conditions but when you put your foot down it turns into a real beast. It makes a great noise too! Its also understated which i like. I drove the M3 and C63 AMG and whilst they are both a little quicker, they are nowhere near as smooth to drive as the S4. The handling is also awesome, it has been wet ever since i picked it up and i know which car out of the 3 i would rather be driving in the wet!
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