New Audi S4 flies under the radar in Frankfurt
Audi might have committed to an all-electric SUV at the Frankfurt Motor Show, but it hasn't forgotten fans of high-performance gasoline cars either. Sitting alongside the e-tron quattro on Audi's stand is the new S4, packing a turbocharged V6 engine into a body so understated that it could just be the perfect sports sedan for the man with nothing to prove.
Hiding under the new S4's bonnet is a new turbocharged V6 engine producing 260 kW (354 hp) and 500 Nm (369 ft-lb) of torque, all of which is available from just 1,300 rpm and lasts until 4,500 rpm and is enough for a 4.7 second sprint to 100 km/h (62 mph).
An 8-speed tiptronic gearbox is standard, and uses a smart decoupling system to disconnect the engine from the wheels and coast to save on fuel. Thanks to this gearbox and the new car's more efficient motor, it returns a fuel use figure of just 7.4 L/100km (31.8 mpg) and emits just 170 g/km of CO2.
With the exception of the B6 RS4, fast Audis have been heavily criticized for their habit of understeering at the limit, so what we're really wondering about the new S4 is what happens when you show it a set of bends?
The signs are certainly promising. It might be fitted with the traditional quattro all-wheel drive system, but the S4 has a 60 percent rear-bias in normal driving, and the self-locking center differential is able to shoot up to 85 percent of power to the rear if the situation demands it. The car also boasts a torque-vectoring system that can gently brake the inside wheels to stop the car from slipping wide, while owners can spec an active sport differential on the rear axle if the standard torque vectoring isn't enough for their tastes.
To make sure it stays nice and flat through the bends, the new S4 sits 23 mm (0.9 in) lower than a standard A4 on its lightweight five link suspension system, which can can be tweaked to suit the owner's preference through Audi's drive select system.
From the outside, there's not all that much to separate the S4 from its lesser A4 siblings. There are aluminum covers on the mirrors and a silver finish on the new rear diffuser, as well as bigger 18-inch wheels wrapped in 245/40 tires.
Inside it's a similar story, with S-Line seats and S4-embossed kickplates the only major giveaway to the car's sporty potential unless owners spec the virtual cockpit with its S-specific central rev counter mode.
The S4 will be available in a sedan or wagon (Avant) bodystyles, which will go on sale in 2016.