Audi S4 | Less is so much more.
By Jamie Kitman
Having finally cemented its place in the top echelon of the world's carmakers, Audi shows no signs of letting its guard down. Instead, it's getting ready for the twenty-first century's post-scarcity, carbon-averse market with a new-for-2010 S4 that excises the last generation's 4.2-liter V-8 in favor of a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6. Cheaper than the car it replaces ($46,725 versus $51,085), the sure-footed, all-wheel-drive S4 takes everything we like about the Audi A4 upon which it is based - comfort, safety, and solid build quality - and cranks it up. Although the extroverted body kit is more minimal and it's two cylinders shy of its antecedent, the losses are merely theoretical. The new S4 is down just 7 hp and coaxes an impressive 333 hp from its modest displacement, yet torque increases from 302 to 325 lb-ft. Shedding half a second in the 0-to-60-mph run (5.2 seconds with a six-speed manual), the S4 also manages to increase fuel economy. Audi's new seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic gearbox, which offers greater smoothness at the price of some haste off the line, is an appealing option, as is the Sports Rear Differential, which shifts torque from side to side, reducing understeer. The spiffy diff option also buys you Drive Select, a feature that allows the driver to program settings for the suspension and the steering. But our best memories are reserved for the fiery V-6 that pulls to its 7000-rpm redline like there's no tomorrow. Quicker, cleaner, thriftier, cheaper. We'll take it.
Base Price: $46,725
Engine: 3.0L supercharged V-6, 333 hp, 325 lb-ft