- Base price: $46,725
- 333 hp, 325 lb-ft of torque
- Fast, German luxury
The Audi S4 is arguably the best German luxury sport sedan for the money. Although it's based on the A4, the top-of-the-line S4 is a completely different animal. Starting at $46,725, the S4 comes standard with Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Buyers can opt for the uplevel Premium model, which costs an extra $6100 and adds nineteen-inch wheels and a Bang & Olufsen fourteen-speaker sound system.
The S4's rev-happy 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 produces 333 hp and 325 lb-ft and growls through two pair of I-mean-business exhaust pipes. Buyers can choose between a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Again, we prefer the manual for its enhanced driver involvement and $1400 savings versus the dual-clutch unit. Eighteen-inch five-spoke wheels come wrapped in performance rubber, allowing the car to operate at its fullest capabilities (at least in nice weather). Sprinting from 0 to 60 mph will take a mere 4.9 seconds, according to Audi. An optional sport rear differential varies torque between the rear wheels, allowing the S4's driver to confidently power through any corner. Heavy bolstering paired with Alcantara inserts keeps occupants planted firmly in their seats.
Variable damper controls allow the driver to choose a comfort setting for fussy family members, an automatic mode allows the car to select optimal settings, and a sport mode enhances more spirited driving. Audio and climate settings are controlled through a 6.5-inch screen located front and center; the S4's three-zone controls offer occupants extreme climate customization. Standard heated front seats are another added nicety. The base 180-watt stereo includes two speakers in each door and a rear-mounted subwoofer. Music can be transmitted to the stereo from an iPod hookup, an auxiliary input, or a handy SD card slot. If the navigation system is ordered, the screen size grows to seven inches and can be controlled by voice inputs. The EPA reports an average fuel consumption of 21 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the expressway. The Audi S4 is an extremely refined family hauler that's a blast to drive and well worth its near-$50,000 price tag.