Luxury sports sedans are a big market these days, but one of the original contenders in this arena is the venerable Audi S4, a car that meets every need and offers some thrills too. However, as rivals like the BMW M340i and Alfa Romeo Giulia demonstrate, those thrills should not be limited just to straight-line speed. Nevertheless, as fun as those alternatives can be, the S4 has lots going for it too. A 3.0-liter V6, which is turbocharged to produce 349 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, powers all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Inside, a simple yet stunning cabin greets you, but is all that enough? Let's see what we can learn about the new model.
Last year, the Audi S4 saw several changes to its standard and optional features. This year, the 2021 model is virtually a carryover for the 2022 model year, with Carbon Atlas interior inlays replacing last year's brushed aluminum trim. There have been minor changes to the options and packages too. Nothing else changes.
See trim levels and configurations:
Neither the B6 nor the B7 generations of the S4 had outstanding handling, but the current B8 has grip for days. There's little that flusters the Audi S4's quattro all-wheel-drive system, even on the most difficult roads. Sure, you can't slide this thing like you would a Giulia or M340i, but the S4's uncompromising commitment to going around corners fast can be just as rewarding. The steering is incredibly accurate, and although not as great as older hydraulic setups, it still gives a decent level of feedback. In addition, it combines this impressive performance with a surprisingly supple chassis that offers impeccable ride comfort, even on broken or corrugated asphalt. If you want an even better experience, an adaptive damping suspension offering is available as part of the S sport package, but you do have to spend extra on either the mid-range or top trim for this to become available. When it comes to braking, the S4 falls behind a bit. The brakes are strong, but at city speeds, they can feel a little too sharp, while harder driving returns a softer pedal feel. If Audi could reverse these two experiences, the S4 would be near-perfect.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
The Audi S4 is impeccably built and is a rather attractive car these days. With leather and Alcantara upholstery as standard in a cabin that boasts a simple layout with a splash of modern tech, it's a great place to be. Sitting behind the wheel is a rewarding experience, too, as the highly capable sports sedan has unbelievable levels of grip, a compliant yet sporty chassis setup, and a powerful engine. There is a comprehensive roster of standard features and the impressive available options also make a good case for the S4. However, the lack of aural stimulation and the rather boring handling characteristics of the Audi may deter some. The small trunk is also a detraction from the car's excellence, and the brakes will take some getting used to. Overall, the S4 does exactly what it's built for, but it does very little to stir the soul. Hence, we'd recommend a test drive of its rivals before signing on the dotted line, but we also wouldn't judge you too harshly if you did pull the trigger. This car is a smart choice, just not an exciting one.
The Audi S5 Sportback is a great alternative to the S4 if you're looking for a little more style and practicality. Underneath the skin, both share the same 3.0-liter turbo V6 with quattro AWD and an eight-speed auto, but the S5 offers more usable trunk space thanks to a large rear hatch. However, this shape does impact rear headroom, and the S5 is a good 78 pounds heavier. In addition, the S5 is a couple of grand pricier, with base models starting at $53,900. Inside, the cabin layout is almost identical to that of the S4, and the driving experience isn't much different either. Unless you really need the added practicality of that rear hatch or are totally besotted with the looks of the S5, we'd opt for the cheaper and lighter S4.
If you're after a fun, fast, four-door Audi, may we suggest the S3 sedan? Sure, it doesn't have a V6, but the S4's motor isn't all that spine-tingling in any case. Instead, the S3 comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, although quattro all-wheel-drive remains. This helps it return an average of three mpg more on the EPA's test cycles, and you only have to deal with a loss of two cubic feet of trunk space. In addition, we have to say that the S3 is arguably a far better-looking machine, and it's cabin that angles controls towards the driver is far more user-friendly. In addition, it gets to 60 just two tenths slower than the S4 and has the same top speed. With a base price almost seven grand lower than that of its bigger brother, the S3 is simply better all-round.
The most popular competitors of 2022 Audi S4 Sedan: