Audi S4 review
The Audi S4 has a stonking diesel engine and handling that’ll put a smile on your face, but also fuel economy that won’t get you down. There are better-handling cars still, mind.
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Diesel is dead, right? Nobody told Audi. Its sporty S models have featured powerful petrol engines for decades, but for 2019 the Audi S4 gets a punchy diesel instead. The S4 comes in both saloon and Avant estate forms, just like its alternatives the Mercedes-AMG C43 and BMW 340i, although the Jaguar XE P300 is saloon only.
It’s fair to say that the latest S4, despite this facelift, looks more restrained inside and out than its alternatives. There are new LED lights and aggressive bumpers front and back, a flatter single-frame grille and bigger air intakes, but the S4 is still less in-your-face than the BMW or Mercedes. Audi’s loses points for its fairly obvious fake exhausts though.
Inside the S4 remains simple, intuitive to use and stylish. It’s not quite as sporty as the Jaguar XE’s wraparound design but the Audi’s numerous aluminium and soft-plastic trims look classy and feel absolutely bulletproof. No other car this size is quite as well built as the Audi S4. What is different to the pre-facelift version is the infotainment. Every model gets a bright, high-definition 10-inch widescreen atop its dashboard, DAB radio, Bluetooth, built-in sat-nav and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.
You won’t have any trouble getting comfortable in the Audi S4’s front sports seats. There’s loads of head- and legroom and plenty of seat adjustment as standard. Space in the back of both the saloon and estate S4 is very nearly as generous as up front. There’s enough room for a six-foot-tall passenger to stretch out behind an equally lanky driver and more headroom than in the C43 and XE. And the S4 saloon’s 480-litre boot is exactly the same size as in the C43’s and 340i’s – easily big enough to carry a set of golf clubs or a large baby buggy.
I know what you’re thinking: a diesel engine in an S4?! Believe me, you’ll be very happy with the performance, and just as happy with how it sips fuel when driven carefully too.
The S4 Avant’s 505-litre boot is 10 litres larger than a 3 Series Touring’s and 15 litres bigger than in C-Class Estate. You probably won’t notice this difference unless you regularly fill your boot to the brim, but at least the Audi’s slightly wider boot opening makes it a touch easier to load bulky items.
The diesel engine of choice for Audi’s sporty A4 is a 347hp 3.0-litre V6, which is a great fit in most ways. Its clever 48-volt tech means it responds quicker than most diesels when you stamp on the throttle and pulls extremely hard over a usefully wide band of revs, meaning the S4 saloon will crack 0-62mph in just 4.7 seconds (4.9 for the Avant). The only downside is the noise, which is unmistakably diesel-like, despite some fake sporty sound being pumped into the cabin.
You don’t get the same sense of connection with the front wheels through the S4’s steering wheel that you do in a 3 Series or XE, either, but there’s still lots of fun to be had. The S4’s clever quattro all-wheel-drive system and lower, stiffer adaptive sports suspension helps provide huge grip and agility – even allowing some playfulness at the limits of grip if the mood takes you. Adding Audi’s optional sports differential helps put down all that power and corner even more quickly.
Slow things down and the Audi S4 can play the quiet, comfy cruiser too. It manages to take potholes and ruts in its stride and in its more relaxed driving modes has light steering for urban manoeuvres. At a constant cruise on the motorway, its large alloys and stiff suspension cause lots of noise, either.
So, there are ultimately more rewarding driving experiences out there, but the Audi S4 is guaranteed to put a smile on your face on a country road. If you can accept its engine is a diesel one, you’ll enjoy big performance mixed with sensible running costs, as well as a spacious, high-quality cabin and a great level of tech.
Make sure you check out our deals pages for the very best Audi S4 prices.