The Audi S4 is a little bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but it’s never tempted to sacrifice comfort for teeth-rattling performance. As the sporty version of the regular A4, the S4 uses a more powerful 349-hp turbocharged V-6 with a snappy-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. The lower ride height and sport suspension deliver a more entertaining ride, and the larger wheels highlight the S4’s bigger and better brakes. Although the S4 doesn’t match rivals like the BMW M340i or the Mercedes-AMG C43 in terms of performance, the standard Quattro all-wheel-drive system delivers ample scoot. The S4 interior isn’t wildly spacious, but its fashionable materials and available Virtual Cockpit navigation software make it easy to live with. The 2023 S4 is a stealthy performer without the drama, something a more mature audience would likely appreciate.
What’s New for 2023?
The 2023 Audi S4 now comes standard with 19-inch wheels and summer tires. All-season tires are now optional. Audi added adaptive cruise control as a driver-assistance feature to its existing Convenience package. The Black Optic Plus package—now including black rocker sills, rear spoiler, exhaust tips, and darkened Audi badges—replaces the previous Black Optic package. An optional Audi Sport interior is new for 2023 and gives the S4 a black interior with red stitching and RS carbon-trim bits. Chronos Gray replaces Quantum Gray as a paint option, and Audi has added Ascari Blue to the S4 but has discontinued Turbo Blue for 2023.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Every S4 comes with the same powertrain and wheels, but the trim levels reflect some major technology differences. The Premium Plus trim—which comes standard with a 360-degree rearview camera, a larger 12.3-inch gauge cluster with Audi’s Virtual Cockpit navigation, a wireless phone charger, and front and rear parking sensors with rear traffic alert—offers the best balance of tech and price. Premium Plus also unlocks the available S Sport package, which adds eye-catching red brake calipers and a torque-vectoring rear differential. We also suggest the Magma Red seats to spice up an otherwise monochromatic interior.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
All S4s ship with a 349-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 that syncs with an eight-speed automatic transmission and Quattro all-wheel drive. While the version we tested was quicker than most rivals, the engine response and exhaust sound—both hugely important characteristics of a sports sedan—were less visceral than expected. Despite its subdued engine character and lack of manual transmission, the V-6 delivered substantial thrust on demand, seamlessly transitioning between relaxed and responsive. Also impressive was its automatic gearbox, which had reactions that seemed so perceptive, we found the desire to shift for ourselves was virtually eliminated—well, almost. Looking at the numbers, the S4 ranks above most competitors in performance. Still, the experience lacks the emotion and sharp handling responses of top rivals. Its chassis is its greatest strength, with tautly controlled body motions and compliant damping that make it equal parts sports and luxury sedan. The S4 is very precise and easy to control; its accurate steering, excellent cornering stability, and tenacious grip on the tarmac boosted our confidence to torpedo on-ramps—but it also cruised calmly around town. Although the brakes were tremendously responsive, they were touchy at city speeds. The fluctuating feedback also interrupted the fun on curvier sections of road where the brake pedal could feel too soft.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The S4 sedan is expected to earn 24 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway, according to EPA estimates. Once we test it on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen, we can evaluate its real-world mpg.
For more information about the S4’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Audi is a benchmark of interior quality, and the S4 is further evidence of this. Every cabin is trimmed with marvelous materials and standard features such as diamond-stitched sport seats with massage features. Along with impeccable fit and finish, the interior is racy and luxurious. The flat-bottomed steering wheel, straightforward controls, and highly adjustable seat provide an exceptional driving position. However, we found its front-seat comfort to be diminished by overly stiff cushions. The S4 had the quietest interior in our test, which also contributed to its calm demeanor—for better or worse. Despite having a 13-cubic-foot trunk—tied for smallest in its class with the C43 sedan—the S4 held an impressive number of carry-ons. While its interior storage is average, the sedan can store a variety of loose items and personal belongings provided they’re not too big. Compared with the Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400, the Audi is a much better travel companion. We only wish the S4’s back seat were bigger and passenger space up front more generous.
The Car and Driver Difference
Infotainment and Connectivity
Audi fits every S4 with a 10.1-inch center infotainment screen and ample infotainment options. Along with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, the MMI system we tested responded quickly to commands and had user-friendly controls. While it’s within the driver’s line of sight, certain areas of the display require leaning forward to reach. Unfortunately, the S4 no longer includes a rotary controller on the center console, which helped make the system easier to operate.
How to Buy and Maintain a Car
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The sports sedan includes several standard driver-assistance features, but other options such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist are only offered on the more expensive Prestige model.
For more information about the S4’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Available blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
The S4 has an ordinary warranty that aligns with most competitors.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
2020 Audi S4
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
PRICE AS TESTED
$62,840 (base price: $50,895)
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
183 in3, 2995 cm3
349 hp @ 6200 rpm
369 lb-ft @ 1370 rpm
Suspension (F/R): multilink/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 13.8-in vented disc/13.0-in vented disc
Tires: Bridgestone Potenza S001, 255/35R-19 96Y A0
Wheelbase: 111.0 in
Length: 187.5 in
Width: 72.7 in
Height: 56.2 in
Passenger volume: 92 ft3
Trunk volume: 12 ft3
Curb weight: 3927 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
Rollout, 1 ft: 0.2 sec
60 mph: 4.2 sec
100 mph: 10.7 sec
130 mph: 19.5 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 5.7 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 2.8 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 3.6 sec
¼-mile: 12.8 sec @ 108 mph
Top speed (governor limited, mfr’s claim): 155 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 162 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.95 g
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/city/highway: 23/20/27 mpg
More Features and Specs