What is even more impressive is that the S4’s new supercharged 3.0-litre V6 achieves all this with a 27 per cent decrease in consumption over the old naturally aspirated 4.2-litre V8 with a combined cycle average of 29.1mpg.
What’s it like?
The smaller engine has robbed the S4 of some of its more memorable acoustic qualities, but this new model is quicker off the line, urgent through the gears, extremely agile for a car weighing 1650kg, progressive when you get towards the limit of adhesion and extremely stable at high speed.
We tested the double clutch gearbox and found that it encourages spirited driving. Its tightly stacked ratios help to make the most of the prodigious low-end torque and flexible qualities of the engine.
Upshifts are crisp and smooth even at high revs, while the electronics are clever enough to provide an alluring blip on the throttle on the downshifts.
The best thing about the S4, however, is its heightened dynamic ability. There is an inherent sharpness to its actions that make it a much more engaging car to drive than its predecessor. It all starts with the steering, which is both direct and terrifically well weighted. This is backed up by excellent body control and seemingly endless levels of grip.
The new Audi S4 is also the first model from Ingolstadt to receive what Audi describes as its sport differential. This is a complex torque vectoring gear set that acts very much like a traditional mechanical locking differential by varying the amount of drive going to each rear wheel. All of which results in a much more stable feel during cornering and higher apex speeds.
Another area where the new S4 displays a clear advance on the model it replaces is in the quality of its ride. With the addition of electronic dampers for the first time, it gives the driver the choice between three different levels of stiffness – comfort, automatic and dynamic.
Buyers can also option their car up with Audi’s so-called ‘drive select system’, which provides the basis for sharper and more responsive actions by remapping the characteristics of the throttle, transmission shift points, dampers and steering – the latter receiving a low friction axial transmission that provides a wonderfully direct feel.
Should I buy one?
If the idea of a rapid but practical everyday car possessing true all-season ability and a bulletproof quality appeals, we certainly wouldn’t talk you out of it.
The only problem facing prospective buyers will be the question of whether to opt for style of the saloon or the versatility offered by the estate.