Tag Archives: audi s4

IEDEI car shopping. Review #3

As many of you who regularly (or not regularly) check this blog know, I am indeed an Audiphile (i have come to terms with  my problem), however I have a great amount of respect and admiration for all marques of cars (besides Ferrari, of course).  It is inevitable, however, that during my car search I obviously explored the current Audi line to find out what fit into my criteria of selecting a new car.  The most obvious frontrunner for the task was the 2011 Audi S4.  A little over a year ago, I helped my mother decide on a 2010 Audi A4, which she has really enjoyed owning and I have enjoyed driving during my visits to my parents’ house.  Although I like the A4 quite a bit, I felt like i needed something a bit more active and less comfortable—with better handling and sharper characteristics.  That being said, i think the A4 is a wonderful car overall, and would make a great choice for most people—however i’m not sure i qualify as sane like most people.  The S4 squares directly against the BMW 335i I tested prior, and I was keen to find out whether it lived up to the hype I had created for it in my deranged, hyperactive brain.

Styling.

I think this is easily one of the most handsome and well executed Audi designs on the road—-with classic and timeless sedan features, as well as trademark features of current Audi styling including LED lighting and single large frame grille.  I do think the car is a little bit large from the outside, however the proportions sit well like a tall supermodel lying on a psychiatrist’s sofa.  For me, the ultimate cosmetic package on any Audi is the current Titanium Sport pkg, which my test car had.  Adding black single frame outline and darkened titanium and silver sport RS wheels really make the S4 stand out from its other siblings as well as from other cars on the road.  I absolutely love the RS wheels on this car, and I think these may be the best looking OEM wheels i’ve seen on any car.  I wasn’t a fan of the silver mirror housings (an S car feature) or the silver door sill treatment under the doors.  Overall though, a very slick package which really has a lot of presence and attitude.

Interior.


The interior of the S4 felt very much like the interior of the A4.  This car didn’t have a built-in navigation device, which was disappointing as it is one of the things I would really like in my next car.  The Silk Nappa seats were very comfortable and supportive; however I found the black/grey & white combination to really bling things up a bit too much.  I love leather seats, but not white ones! I would have also preferred the leather/alcantara combination rather to the all-leather ones.  As with most Audis, the materials used on the interior are first class, and I have yet to find another manufacturer which puts so much effort and detail into their interiors; it is part of the reason I am such an Audiphile.  That being said, I think there may be a bit too much silver going on in the dash, which adds a shininess I am not particularly fond of.  The dials had a very sporting touch though, and the ‘cockpit’ like surroundings really make the driver feel as if they are in control of what is going on.  The car I drove this particular day at the dual-clutch S-Tronic/DSG gearbox, which came with paddle shifters present on the back of the steering wheel with metal finish.  The steering wheel was leather wrapped and felt nice, if a bit light and not as heavy to hold as the older Audi steering wheels present on my car.  Back seat room was plentifull, and the trunk was quite vast.  All in all, a very nicely executed interior which earns its 4 rings.

Driving.

For me, this was the most important part of the S4 experience, as I expected a lot.  What I can tell you is that the S4 is fast—-as in hooker-being-chased-by-a-police-officer-through-a-seedy-motel-parking-lot fast.  0-60 felt instant (i’ve read between 4.4-4.9 seconds in various magazines), and the rate at which the supercharged 3.0L V6 gains speed at any speed really is remarkable.  The DSG gearbox is simply wicked in every way, it burps during upshifts, and blips during downshifts—-entertaining sounds coming from a highly entertaining gearbox.  The car felt sports car quick.  The handling was also to spec of a high performance and special german saloon—-as quick turns felt accurate, responsive, and very well balanced.  Huge amounts of grip, and vast amounts of confidence to the driver.  In terms of ability to gain speed and momentum, the S4 definitely trumps the Evo and the 335i in most respects.  Much of this comes down to the combination of the DSG and the supercharged V6.  The braking was excellent, as most Audis are—however the biggest improvement was in the quicker steering response as compared to previous generation S4s. They have changed the torque distribution to 60% to the rear wheels, which may have greatly influenced this positive change.  I think this felt overall like one of the better balanced Audi setups i’ve driven, and surely the data emerging that this 333hp S4 is as quick as the 414hp B7 RS4 in a track setting is evidence to that.  My biggest complaint about the driving experience, is that the exhaust was far too quiet (almost silent), and that the car is too refined.  It feels too well engineered, which made me feel slightly numb after driving it.  When I drove the Evo 10, i got out of the car wanting to get drunk and scream about how good it was to drive—-when I got out of the S4, I felt like drinking a glass of milk and turning on the news.  Overall though, it has the performance to match the good looks and the expectations.

Overall.

I really like the S4—i think it is a handsome package with a slick engine and a nicely trimmed outline.  The Titanium package makes it look very evil (in a good way) and the car has plenty of presence on the road. The price of the car I tested was $53k, and put the S4 out of my preferred price range.   Do i think it is worth that money? Yes i do.  Will I be paying that kind of money? No I won’t.  The S4 did not excite me in a visceral way—-and to me this served as evidence that a fast 0-60 time, my favourite marque,  and a pretty package are not enough to excite me about a car.  There are intangible qualities which makes people love cars, and for me at this time—this is not the car which suits my state-of-mind.

In terms of comparing with the 335i and the Evo; the S4 easily trumps the 335i in pretty much every way I an think of, besides price—–however it doesn’t fare as well against the Evo 10.  Why? The Evo 10 had a lot of passion in its engineering, passion one can feel—-and it went after a very simple goal: to create the best performance sedan possible on a budget.  The S4 tries to blend upscale luxury with effortless performance—-and it does it quite successfully, but i’m not sure If i’m as appreciative of that combination. I am looking for a car which I can easily drive plenty of freeway miles in day after day and then arrive home to Brooklyn, drive around Manhattan on the weekends, expand our family with, and to take to the airport and back—-as that car, this feels like too imposing of a package….maybe even too “mature” of a package.  So in summary: great car, but not for me.

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IEDEI Car Shopping. Review #1.

Yes that’s right IEDEI is shopping for a car!  It has been 8 years since I last went ‘real’ car shopping, and how I have missed it.  Yes you have to deal with misinformed salespeople, plenty of fluff, weird business tactics, temptations on the used car lots, and pricing shock after adding a couple of choice options—-however I, for one, believe that car shopping should be the next big thing sporting event.

I want to give the TT a break and I will be keeping it.  I have had the TT for 8 years now and the car now has 115k miles.  It has done its job and I want it to relax and stay as my “fun car”.  My wife and I have plans to ‘expand the family’ in the next year or so, as well as my new job which is why I am shopping cars.

So you would think that car shopping for me would be quite easy—-as I would just head over to the nearest Audi dealer and buy up the whole facking place——however I do have budget constraints, and I do have a very open mind when it comes to buying.  The last time I went car shopping, I drove many, many cars and the whole experience was very satisfying.   That being said, my choice last time was MUCH easier because a long story short—-i was obsessed with the TT.   This time? YES there is a top contender, however it is not an obsession—-just a top contender.  More about that car at a later time.

So today I drove a 2011 BMW 335i X-drive (why can’t they just call it iX or Xi like they used to? weirdos…)

Styling

As a child, i grew up wanting an E30 M3.  As an adult, I find modern BMW styling to be more boring than watching a baby elephant drool into a lake.   I didn’t feel exactly compelled by the dated design of the aging 3-series sedan (E90), however I felt the car met several key preferences I have in a long distance commuter family sedan (AWD capabilities, sporting performance, solid, small size, preferably german).  The front of the car has sort of a “japanese” look to it—-i don’t find it very interesting, in fact i find it very scattered and haphazard.  Too many shapes with incoherence.  The rear end is far better than the front, but seems a bit “scrunched” together.  The side profile was nice, sometimes…The sculpted hood is overstyled, like a monster’s face in a cheap horror film—-and overall, the looks just don’t work for me.  There isn’t much classic about this E90.

Interior

Amongst the things I evaluate cars for, interior is amongst the highest of importance.  Why? Because as a driver, the interior is really THE interface for us when spending time with the car.  The TT has quite simply one of the finest interiors of any production car in the past 50 years—-it was also one of the most expensive production interiors and it shows.  On the downside, this has given me a very high standard to evaluate other cars’ interiors with.   In the 80s/90s, BMW had it all going right—with minimalist, functional interiors which got the job done and had bags of integrity.  In specific, i’m going to point out that terrible rubber piece located above the steering wheel like a sideways clitoris connecting the dash cluster area to the top base of the wheel.  What was that!?   The seats were pretty lousy as well—-you can see the lack of good bolster on the sides….the leather felt thick and grainy like it was taken from a dinosaur….worst of all, things felt cheaper than they should feel.  I also found the “double bubble” navigation screen area to be very awkward, although it did keep the display in level with the driver’s vision.  The MMI/iDrive system was actually pretty nice, much nicer than any of the Audis I have used with similar features.  The gauge cluster was well made and one of the high points of the interior, with one of the low points being the controls and handles on the door–which were woefully planned and placed.   All in all, a very schizophrenic interior, not a particular nice place to be.

Backseat room was very nice, and i was surprised by how much room there was for a compact sedan—-trunk size was not as nice as i’ve seen in the C-Class and the A4.

Driving.

Having driven a fair number of modern BMWs in my life—I do know one thing: that they are often much better to drive than you think they will be based on other criteria.  This was true today as well.  The engine is a 300hp Turbocharged 3.0L straight-6.  A couple of things surprised me about this engine: (A) there isn’t much turbo lag, and (B) it sounds pretty decent.  The power is instant and with a surge of turbocharged boost.  To me, this is the essence of BMW, as we often forget that BMW originally launched the first mass produced turbocharged automobile to the mass market in 1974 with the BMW 2002 Turbo. 

They didn’t have any manual transmission cars to drive, so I drove one with a ‘Steptronic” automatic transmission.  It is very dissappointing that BMW does not offer a dual-clutch optional gearbox in their non-M car lineup.  The Steptronic did not have paddle shifters, and to be honest the gearbox was slow and a bit cumbersome to use.  I felt better driving the car in fully automatic mode rather than “pseudo-manual”.  The brakes were excellent and felt good under hard braking and panic stops.

The steering is one of the major high points on most BMWs, and it felt pretty good on the 335i.  It felt accurate and communicative like a bullet fired by a sniper. Coming from a small coupe, i thought the car did feel large—however most family size sedans would feel that way.   The 335i did feel agile though, and was most definitely able to handle aggressive steering exercises with relative ease and composure.  Fortunately i had a sales person who urged me to test the car hard, which i did.  Since the 335i is RWD all the time, until it detects slip—-the car handles great in everyday normal driving—with the steering free from powertrain expenditure.

All in all, the driving experience was a good one.  The car feels solid as any BMW should, and it feels alive like a lizard who is being chased by a cat.  The car instills a sense of confidence in it as any good german car should, and I give credit to BMW for mass producing their mainstream compact executive sedan without comprimising the driving characteristics which have made them desirable.

Overall.

I like the BMW 335i “x-drive” for what it is; a solid german sedan with all-weather capabilities and RWD useability.  Do i think it is something special? NO.  Do i think it is overpriced? YES.  I sat with the salesperson and equipped the car with a ‘sports package’, leather (why in the world is leather optional on this!?), heated seats, and a couple other small things—–and the price of the car was $48k+.  Would i pay $48k for this car? NO.  Then the truth hit me—the lease price they were offering me on the car was WAY less than the finance price on the car—-together with the facts the dealer was telling me about 90% of their customer base leasing their BMWs over buying it—the car suddenly made a lot more sense.  That being said, 335i is a very good car, lacking the attention to detail which would make it special.  You can tell that this car is built for one reason; for corporate leases for corporate people climbing the ladder who want to aim for a 5-series the next time, and a 7-series after that.  I have friends who have leased 3-series sedans repeatedly one after another—-and this really does seem like the dynamic BMW are aiming for.  That’s what the car is made for.  I walked away with a little more respect for the car after driving it, however I walked away not wanting it as well.

NEXT TIME FOR REVIEW: 2011 Mitsubishi Evolution 10

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video of the day. Widebody S4.

 

The B5 Audi S4 has really joined the ranks of ‘legendary’ modern euro cars—-it wasn’t just the sportier version of the car that financially rescued Audi in the mid-late 1990s (the B5 A4), but its interesting twin-turbo narrow angle V6 made tuneability of this car as easy as falling down.  The S4 has always been the Audiphile staple, with the right combination of practicality, size, price, and tuneability—-all mated to an all-important quattro.   2nd hand prices for stock/lightly modded cars are stable now in the $10-15k range, and demand is high these days, especially amongst its rabidly enthusiastic following.  The cars that have been converted to ‘Stage 3’ are selling between $15-25k and packing at least 400hp, if not much more…

This, though…is a stunning video outlining the appeal of this modern classic.   Check out the backseats!  Those might be the greatest rear seats i’ve ever seen.

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foto of the day. RS4

Audi RS4 (B5) Avant

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foto of the day. 011010.

Just a photo of the new season of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge GT Class, where there is an APR tuned Audi S4.  Don’t ya love the photo of the S4 and the tuned, trans-am livery Chevrolet Camaro duking it out?  Very cool!

CLICK ON FOTO TO GET HI-RES.

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foto of the day. 12142009.

Maybe i should tell my mum to lower her B8 A4 and add some RS4 rims to hers!  The B8 A4 is a really great ride though….I drove hers a few weekends ago when i was visiting Detroit, and really enjoyed it—even with an automatic tranny.  It’s a great car.

(this is NOT her car….)

Modded B8 A4


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2009 Audi S4 Avant vs. Oversteer (video)

audis4dr1

The new Audi S4 is almost out here in the USA, and is already out in Europe. Drivers Republic have gotten their hands on a brand spankin new S4 Avant, and Chris Harris is gonna try to make it understeer….

wanna see the results? CLICK here to see the video Continue reading

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