2010 Audi S4

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Key Specs

of the 2010 Audi S4. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Tasteful, subtle styling
  • Interior quality
  • Trunk space
  • Premium stereo

The Bad

  • Limited-slip rear differential not standard
  • Winter tires an added expense
  • Gas mileage
  • Premium gas required
  • No Avant wagon version offered

Notable Features of the 2010 Audi S4

  • Redesigned for 2010
  • 333-hp, supercharged 3.0-liter V-6
  • All-wheel drive
  • Manual or automatic
  • Sedan body style

2010 Audi S4 Road Test

Joe Wiesenfelder

The 2010 model year marks a new generation for the Audi S4, a souped-up sports sedan version of the A4, itself redesigned for 2009. The supercharged V-6 gives up nothing to the previous generation's V-8 — except dismal mileage and an associated gas-guzzler tax, thankfully. Improved all-wheel drive, a more comfortable ride and a lower price make this a better package overall and a nice upgrade from the regular A4. (See them compared here.)

The last 
Audi S4 sedan was a 2008, but there was a carryover S4 convertible, called the Cabriolet, in 2009. For 2010, we have an A4 2.0T, named for its 211-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. (The A4 3.2 sedan with its 3.2-liter V-6, which was offered last year, has been dropped.)


This year, as last, there are sedan and wagon (Avant) versions of the regular A4, but there's no S4 Avant. The sports sedan has a 333-hp, supercharged 3.0-liter V-6. Here's how the S4's engine stacks up against the A4's and the previous-generation S4's:

 

A4 and S4 Drivetrains
  2010 A4 2.0T 2010 S4 V6T 2008 S4 4.2
Type Turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder Supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 4.2-liter V-8
Horsepower
(@ rpm)
211 @ 4,300 333 @ 5,500 340 @ 7,000
Torque
(lb-ft. @ rpm)
258 @ 1,500 - 4,200 325 @ 2,900 - 5,300 302 @ 3,500
Recommended
gas
Premium Premium Premium
Base driveline Front-wheel drive All-wheel drive All-wheel drive
EPA-estimated city/highway mpg (manual; automatic) 22/30;
21/27*
18/27;
18/28
13/20;
1...

The 2010 model year marks a new generation for the Audi S4, a souped-up sports sedan version of the A4, itself redesigned for 2009. The supercharged V-6 gives up nothing to the previous generation's V-8 — except dismal mileage and an associated gas-guzzler tax, thankfully. Improved all-wheel drive, a more comfortable ride and a lower price make this a better package overall and a nice upgrade from the regular A4. (See them compared here.)

The last 
Audi S4 sedan was a 2008, but there was a carryover S4 convertible, called the Cabriolet, in 2009. For 2010, we have an A4 2.0T, named for its 211-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. (The A4 3.2 sedan with its 3.2-liter V-6, which was offered last year, has been dropped.)


This year, as last, there are sedan and wagon (Avant) versions of the regular A4, but there's no S4 Avant. The sports sedan has a 333-hp, supercharged 3.0-liter V-6. Here's how the S4's engine stacks up against the A4's and the previous-generation S4's:

 

A4 and S4 Drivetrains
  2010 A4 2.0T 2010 S4 V6T 2008 S4 4.2
Type Turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder Supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 4.2-liter V-8
Horsepower
(@ rpm)
211 @ 4,300 333 @ 5,500 340 @ 7,000
Torque
(lb-ft. @ rpm)
258 @ 1,500 - 4,200 325 @ 2,900 - 5,300 302 @ 3,500
Recommended
gas
Premium Premium Premium
Base driveline Front-wheel drive All-wheel drive All-wheel drive
EPA-estimated city/highway mpg (manual; automatic) 22/30;
21/27*
18/27;
18/28
13/20;
14/21
Gas-guzzler tax none none $1,700
*With optional all-wheel drive; front-drive A4 sedan is 23/30 mpg with standard CVT automatic.

 

Astute readers will notice that the Audi S4 is called a V6T even though it has a supercharger rather than a turbocharger. Pretty silly, if you ask me. While I'm picking nits, the engine cover says TFSI, which is another T in search of meaning, as well as an S that doesn't stand for supercharger: FSI stands for fuel stratified direct-injected, where "stratified" is another word for a super-efficient lean-burn mode. Unfortunately, this mode leads to higher emissions, so the engine doesn't burn lean in the U.S. That leaves us with FI, fuel injection, which can be boasted by every car sold in the U.S. for more than a decade. Even without lean-burn, the S4's mileage is 18 mpg city and 27-28 mpg highway — impressive overall, and a good 6 mpg improvement over the previous generation S4.


Superficiality aside, the engine delivers. Anyone who remembers the twin-turbo V-6 that powered the S4 two generations ago can rest assured that direct injection and a well-implemented supercharger have eliminated any sign of lag. The S4 sprints from zero to 60 mph in 5 seconds or less. I'd have preferred a six-speed manual transmission in a car like this, but ours had the new seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual called S-tronic. Like all of these proliferating units, S-tronic has fully automatic Drive and Sport modes and the ability to shift manually. S-tronic lets you do so with the gear selector or steering-wheel paddles; some cars only offer one or the other.

Like all dual-clutch systems, the 
Audi S4's has its pros and cons. Its best attribute is how smoothly it takes off from a standing start. Some of these systems still jerk a bit. Like all others, S-tronic upshifts instantaneously — smoothly in Drive mode and a little harder and more efficiently in Sport mode, accompanied by a slight blat out the exhaust pipes. I loved the blat. With the V-8 rumble a memory and a supercharger so quiet I questioned its existence, the blat was all I had.


S-tronic's downsides involve the downshifts, which are a bit slow in comparison with the upshifts, and the fact that you feel the transmission downshift sequentially as you brake to a stop — even when in Drive mode. It makes the braking feel nonlinear. Conventional automatics don't do this, or they do it unnoticeably. Another shortcoming is the specklike size of the gear indicator, which is lost in the cluttered instrument panel LCD. If you're shifting manually, you want to know which of seven gears you're in. In some cars, this numerical readout is the size of your thumb.

 

Ride & Handling
I must qualify my comments about the Audi S4's handling because of less-than-optimal circumstances. The S4's performance options include an adaptive suspension, variable-assist "dynamic" steering and a Sports Rear Differential to complement the standard Quattro all-wheel drive by overdriving the outside wheel in turns. Somehow we managed to land the full-on performance-dilettante's version, lacking all these features and the stick shift. More important, our test car was fitted with winter tires, and the temperatures were quite mild — not a recipe for exceptional roadholding.


The S4 comes standard with summer performance tires, and all-wheel drive isn't enough to overcome their slippery characteristics when it's cold. Winter tires are a good idea; it was just too soon.

On the upside, having the base suspension — the one that doesn't let you choose between comfort and sport settings — proved how comfortable the S4 is for a car of its type. The new generation's wheelbase has grown 6.3 inches, and that's a lot for a wheelbase and its effect on ride quality. Though the car's limits were easier to reach than they would have been with summer or all-season tires, I still got a feel for the car's dynamics, and they're quite good. Even without the limited-slip rear end, it's poised and controllable.

The absolute biggest improvement over the previous generation involves Quattro. Unlike previous generations, which had a default torque split of 50/50 between the front and rear wheels, the 2010's all-wheel drive sends 60 percent to the rear wheels, which gives the car more of a rear-wheel-drive feel. I appreciated Quattro in its previous incarnation, but most Audis, including the S4, are nose-heavy. Even though the V-8 is gone, the 2010 remains nose-heavy as well, with a tendency to understeer, but the rear torque bias makes it easier to control the rear end and rotate the car on its axis. This could be enough to sway some Audi detractors.

Exterior & Styling
As always, the Audi S4 is a sleeper — a car with above-average performance that doesn't advertise it much — but some things do distinguish it from the A4, including a distinctive grille, front bumper and rocker-panel moldings. A subtle upturn of the trunk-lid's trailing edge forms a rear spoiler, and the quad tailpipes emerge from an exclusive rear diffuser. It didn't stand out on our silver car, but the side mirrors have an "aluminum-optic" finish that also appears as trim below the front and rear bumpers.


Sadly, we can now add "aluminum-optic" to the glossary of euphemisms for imitation materials, along with leatherette (not real leather) and woodgrain (not real wood). At one time, the side mirrors were capped with real aluminum, but that changed, silently, in 2006.

The Inside
The car's interior will always remind you what you're driving, with Audi S4 logos on the door sills, steering wheel, backrests, instrument panel and key fob. Also exclusive are the black headliner and some color choices. Audi says brushed aluminum trim is standard, but our test car had the optional carbon fiber trim. Stainless steel and gray wood trim are also offered.


I liked the sport seats because they're well-bolstered around the torso but not too restrictive higher up, and the bottom cushion's bolsters aren't so prominent as to impede getting in or out. The thigh extension is a plus, but the gap it creates seems to collect dust and crumbs more effectively than a vacuum cleaner. Typical of sport seats, the head restraints are integral to the backrest, which means it might be positioned properly for someone, but adjustable designs — which have begun to appear on sport seats — would be better for everyone.

Audi has long been a leader in top-of-the-line interior quality, and the new S4 four-door is still good, but a couple of the surfaces, such as the expansive bezel around the instruments and navigation screen, are borderline. The shift paddles appear to be the dreaded aluminum-optic. I wouldn't say Audi is slipping, but the competition has upped its game enough that Audi needs to step up the innovation.

Other optional interior upgrades include the Bang & Olufsen audio package.

Safety
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the 2009 Audi A4 a Top Safety Pick, meaning it has top scores in frontal-, side- and rear-impact crash tests. The crash results apply to the S4, but note that in 2010 roof-strength tests will be a factor in Top Safety Pick status, so any current designee could lose its citation if its roof strength is below the standard.

The S4's standard safety features include six airbags, with side curtains for the front and rear seats as well as seat-mounted torso airbags for the front seats. If you want similar side bags for the backseat — which can pose a hazard for small children — they're a stand-alone option. Antilock brakes and an electronic stability system with traction control are also onboard. As mentioned above, we recommend all-season or winter tire replacements for wintry climates. They're technically not a factory option, but the A4 runs on the same sizes, so an Audi dealer should be able to hook you up. For a full list of safety features, click here. You can also get a blind spot warning system and a backup camera in option packages.

S4 in the Market
The Audi S4's base list price is $45,900, which is $2,710 lower than the previous generation commanded in 2008. Subtract the $1,700 gas-guzzler tax you no longer pay, and the 2010 is $4,410 less. The S4 occupies a middle ground between BMW's all-wheel-drive 335i sedan (300 hp and $42,300) and its performance variant, the M3 (414 horses and $54,850). See them compared with the A4 Quattro here.


For the extra money, there are some features standard in the S4 and not the 335i: HomeLink, partial-leather seats, Bluetooth compatibility and an alarm system. The 335i counters with adjustable head restraints.

Audi kindly groups the Drive Select performance options our car lacked in a single package for $3,950, raising the price to $49,850. Packed with every performance, comfort, safety and cosmetic option we could squeeze in, the S4 tops out at $63,616 including the destination charge. But if what you want is more performance, you can hope Audi brings back the RS 4, which historically has competed with the M3 both on the window sticker and on the track.

Send Joe an email  

 


2010 S4 Video

Cars.com's Joe Wiesenfelder takes a look at the 2010 Audi S4. It competes with the BMW M3, Cadillac CTS-V, Lexus IS-F and Mercedes C63 AMG. Videographer: Matthew Avery Producer: Eric Rossi

Latest 2010 S4 Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.7)
Performance
(4.8)
Interior Design
(4.6)
Comfort
(4.6)
Reliability
(4.3)
Value For The Money
(4.3)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

One of the best cars I owned.

by Nick from San Jose, CA on January 5, 2018

High performance German Engineering. Fun to drive, head turner, reliable and agile. Awesome sound system and all options for safety and comfort. Read full review

(4.0)

Great year round car!

by IheartCars on December 11, 2017

I absolutely love this car. It has amazing pick up and is fun around corners plus its super comfortable when taking long trips. It's a sleeper sports sedan for someone who likes speed but doesn't need ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2010 Audi S4 currently has 0 recalls

NHTSA Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2010 Audi S4 3.0 Premium Plus

NHTSA rates vehicles using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Overall Rollover Rating
5 Star
Driver's
5 Star
Passenger's
5 Star
Side Barrier Rating Driver
5 Star
Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat
5 Star
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. NHTSA provides vehicle safety information such as front- and side-crash ratings and rollover ratings. Vehicles are rated using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    48 months / unlimited distance

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Audi

Program Benefits

Comprehensive 300+ point dealer inspection, 24/7 roadside assistance including towing and trip interruption reimbursement, 1 Year/Unlimited Miles Audi Certified pre-owned Limited Warranty coverage, transferability of the Audi Certified pre-owned Limited Warranty to a subsequent private owner, and CARFAX® Vehicle History Report.

  • Limited Warranty

    1 Year / Unlimited Miles

    1 Year/ Unlimited Miles Audi Certified pre-owned Limited Warranty features 1 Year / Unlimited Miles of warranty coverage after the expiration of the new vehicle limited warranty or from the date of sale if the new vehicle limited warranty has expired and coverage honored at over 300 Audi dealerships service centers throughout the U.S., total confidence is yours as you take the road less traveled.
  • Eligibility

    Under 5 years / 60,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 300+ point inspection.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The S4 received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker