Audi continues to offer its S4 in sedan, wagon (Avant) and convertible (Cabriolet) body styles for 2008. Bluetooth-based cell phone connectivity and Sirius Satellite Radio are now standard, and RS 4-like 18-inch alloy wheels are available. Competitors include the Cadillac CTS-V and Lexus IS-F.
Quattro all-wheel drive is standard on all S4 models. A Torsen torque-sensing center differential helps send power to the wheels with the most traction. The extensive use of aluminum in the suspension results in low unsprung mass.
(Skip to details on the: S4 Avant or S4 Cabriolet)
Xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights flank the S4's grille, which features a unique S-model look. Large front air intakes are installed, and the sedan has a trunk-mounted spoiler. Alloy wheels hold 18-inch tires, and the side mirrors have aluminum accents. The S4's sport suspension includes stiffer shocks and springs, stronger stabilizer bars and a lowered ride height.
The S4 sedan features a 60/40-split folding rear seat and holds five people. The driver faces gray instruments and a leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel. Tiptronic shift paddles are installed on models equipped with the automatic transmission. Silk Nappa leather upholstery is used, and the Recaro sport seats have 12-way power adjustment.
All S4s are prewired for either Sirius or XM Satellite Radio. Options include a navigation system and a Bose premium sound system.
Under the Hood
Audi's 4.2-liter V-8, which is also used in the automaker's larger models, was modified to fit into the S4's compact engine compartment. Developing 340 horsepower at 7,000 rpm, the V-8 produces 302 pounds-feet of torque at 3,500 rpm. Audi says the S4 can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds when equipped with the six-speed manual gearbox. A specially tuned exhaust system is installed. A six-speed automatic transmission that features a manual-shift provision is available.
Antilock brakes have electronic brake-force distribution. Standard side curtain airbags cover the entire side-window area. Seat-mounted side-impact airbags for front occupants are standard, and rear-seat side-impact airbags are optional. Height-adjustable front seat belts have load limiters, and an electronic stability system is standard.
Capable of seating five people, the S4 Avant wagon uses the same powertrain as the S4 sedan. Aluminum roof rails are installed. Avant models have a full-size cargo cover and a protective net. With 27.8 cubic feet of cargo room, the S4 Avant has slightly more than double the sedan's cargo space. Back to top
An iPod connection kit is available for 2008, and heated front seats are standard. Powertrain details for the S4 Cabriolet are the same as the sedan's. In models equipped with the automatic transmission, paddle shifters are included for manual gear changes. Audi claims a 0-to-60-mph acceleration time of 5.8 seconds with the manual gearbox.
Structural refinements in the S4 convertible are found in its sills, A-pillars, under the rear seat and in the double bulkhead behind the backseat. Sensors in the active rollover protection system detect an imminent rollover and deploy protective hoops behind the rear seats. The power fabric top contains a heated glass rear window.
The quick, capable S4 Cabriolet rides and handles as if it's almost gliding atop the pavement, without a hint of heaviness. Little steering effort is needed, but the open-top S4 responds instantly and confidently once you get past that sensation of lightness. Acceleration with the manual shift falls short of startling, but it comes close — both from a standstill and when passing or merging. Shifts demand some finesse to avoid jerkiness.
The ride is almost gentle on smooth surfaces, but roughness turns up as the pavement gets harsher. Wind rush with the top down can get nasty, but the S4 convertible feels solid even on undulating pavement. Backseat legroom is rather sparse, and trunk space is modest. Back to top