I'm adding the S4 to my informal list of "Cars I'd Buy if I Won the Lotto." Admittedly, there are snazzier choices on which to spend jackpot winnings, but the Audi S4 is unbelievably satisfying to drive. It all starts with the engine, a fantastic supercharged V-6 that provides truly energetic throttle response. It always has enough power, pulling steadfastly in every gear. The sound -- just a tiny hint of supercharger whine -- is exactly what you expect from a sports car, ranging from a growl when slipping the clutch to a bark if you rev-match downshifts. The clutch travel is quite long, but the engagement point is firm and easy to modulate. Like most Volkswagen/Audi products, the six-speed manual is very precise and easy to use but feels a little rubbery at times.
I love that the S4 keeps its high-performance aspirations somewhat hidden, with only the big wheels and subtle body kit betraying the "S" treatment. Our test car's Imola Yellow paint is a bit obnoxious, but probably befitting of the car's brash personality. It contrasts smartly with the all-black leather-and-Alcantara interior, which looks fantastic. The S4 is neither the glitziest luxury car nor the most aggressive sports car, but it's tremendous fun and everything works well together.
Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor
The Audi S4 is more in the sweet spot of what a German sport sedan should be than the somewhat overwrought, too-expensive BMW M3 with its V-8 engine has become. The Audi S4 is fast, rewarding, and crisp, and it has a great set of front sport seats. The supercharged 3.0-liter engine is sweet and tractable and, as Mr. Holmes points out, capable of really pouring on the power. The six-speed manual provides lovely gear changes and a fluid clutch engagement. The engine's 333 hp is exactly the same figure that the last-generation, six-cylinder M3 had, as I recall. Really, now, who needs more than that?
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor