2010 Audi S4
Longitudinal front engine, all-wheel drive
3.0-liter V6, dohc, 24-valve, supercharged and intercooled
Six-speed S tronic automated manual
Peak Power: 333 hp @ 5500 rpm
Peak Torque: 325 lb-ft @ 2900 rpm
0-60 mph: 4.9 sec.
Top Speed: 155 mph (limited)
Fuel Economy: 18 city/ 28 hwy
They say history repeats itself; in the case of the automotive industry, it seems to repeat itself in distinct cycles. Through the 1980s, Audi made its performance bones with small-displacement turbocharged vehicles. Then came the '90s and the so-called horsepower wars, V8 engines once again became all the rage, and even Audi succumbed to that trend.
Hardcore S enthusiasts were sorely disappointed when the B6 S4 debuted with a 4.2-liter naturally aspirated V8, especially since one of the most loved Audi performers of all time was the previous-gen B5. It employed a twin-turbocharged V6 for motivation, and became one of the most sought-after European tuner platforms because of its huge power potential with varying degrees of induction modification.
Then came 2009, the new-age "gas crunch," and the faltering world economy-high efficiency once again became fashionable. And Audi has returned to its roots-somewhat-with this latest 2010 S4. Motivation again comes from a V6, 3.0 liters in this case, to which is strapped a forced induction system. But rather than turbos, this time it's a supercharger (in spite of the V6 T badging).
The inevitable groans erupted from the enthusiast quarter (I want my twin turboooooos). But to any naysayers, I challenge you to get your butt into a '10 S4, fling it around a bit, and then tell me it sucks. I dare ya.
The blown V6 pushes 333 peak hp. This won't make the S4 an M3 killer-it's aimed more at the 335i. But you could argue the new S4 is about three-quarters M3. And then there's the whole tuning potential thing with the forced induction; we'll just have to wait and see.
Engine output aside, the S4 has a couple of other things going for it. First, it will enter the market at $45,900 (manual transmission) with a long list of standard equipment. Second is engine efficiency. According to Audi's reckoning, that will run in the range of 21 mpg combined. Try squeezing that from a V8.
Most impressive is the car's poise and road-holding ability, thanks largely in part to Quattro drive and shockingly precise steering. An optional active center sport differential is available as a concession to those who'd like to try to go "tail-out." It certainly feels more dramatic from the driver's seat than it looks from the outside; tail-out here is a pretty relative term. That's not to say some enterprising hoon couldn't swing the rear around and go into a four-wheel drift... but that kinda defeats the point of AWD. -Karl Funke
From the Hip
Good power matched with good efficiency, excellent road-holding ability
No twin turboooos