The throttle response is both quick and reliable, allowing you to easily take advantage of empty spaces in traffic around town and fleeting overtaking opportunities out on the road. Throughout the rev range, there is an earnest but hardly entertaining exhaust note, which undergoes various changes in timbre as you near the 6500rpm cut-out, but sadly never really fulfils its aural potential in the way some rivals manage.
For the most part, the torque converter touting automatic gearbox matches the high standards of the new engine, providing smooth and mostly rapid shifts, which goes some way to justifying the decision to axe the earlier dual clutch unit owing to its apparent inability to handle the added torque load provided by the new engine. With drive being doled out in a distinctly rearward bias, traction is rarely if ever an issue in everyday driving conditions.
When the conditions allows, the pace is predictably rapid. Audi claims 0-62mph in 4.7sec, which is 0.3sec faster than the old model. It is also 0.2sec inside the time Mercedes-AMG claims for the C43 4Matic and 0.4sec better than a BMW 340i auto.
It’s the in-gear qualities of the new driveline that really impress, though. And with outstanding longitudinally stability, the new Audi continues its reputation as an excellent long-distance proposition. Reflecting its German roots, it feels right at home in the fast lane of an autobahn, where it can confidently be run to its limited 155mph top speed.
Sadly, though, the S4 is no more involving than its lesser A4 siblings on more testing back roads. There is undeniable directness to the electro-mechanical steering and the Drive Select system allows you to tailor it to suit the conditions by offering quite a broad range between the Dynamic and Comfort settings. But despite the various tweaks brought to the suspension, including a 23mm reduction in right height and the fitment of optional 19in wheels shod with 245/35 on our test car, it lacks for meaningful interaction. It’s not clinical in the way some earlier S4 models were, but neither is it truly communicative.
The S4’s ride leaves a little to be desired, too. The reworked chassis does an admirable job of isolating road noise and manages to rein in excess roll quite well when you arrive in a corner a little too quickly. However, the reduction in ride height robs it of crucial wheel travel, particularly up front. This leads to sharp vertical movements when the road is not absolutely smooth, even when the Drive Select system is switched to Comfort.