|Grand Prix - Audi
As the first manufacturer to stuff eight
cylinders in a B-class car, Audi announced a loud
intention to take on its German rivals where it's really
noticed, in the fast lane of the autobahn. Bravado was
added to the A4's suave demeanor, resulting in a classic
European sport sedan. But is it the right motor for a
world where fuel prices keep creeping ever
Let's get this clear right away: This
exhilarating sedan could have carried off the prize, and
no one would have complained. First of its class to get
eight cylinders stuffed under the hood, the S4's 340-bhp
is matched to a chassis with such control of the road
that it defines no-fault driving fun. If it runs with
the likes of BMW's M3, it also comes close in price, our
test car's sticker totaling $50,790, about five grand
above the base price of $45,650. But for half a hundred
g's, you get a complete automobile, fulfilling its
mandate as a sports sedan with a touch of elan unmatched
by any other car in its class. The no-charge silk Nappa
leather upholstery suggests no-cost luxury, but there's
also a manual shifter in the console, linked to a
six-speed transmission and the 4.2-liter V8 also found
in the Audi A6 and A8 lines. You can get a Bose sound
system for those times you want to hear something else
than the glorious exhaust note, but there's no choice on
the driveline. Anyway, why should anyone opt out of
Audi's tried and true quattro all-wheel-drive
Quibbles? Complaints? Heft and price were
mentioned, but not in the sense they would stop anyone
from owning this car. One staffer said it was the Audi
he's been waiting for over the past 20 years; another
admitted that having an S4 would mean almost instant
revocation of his driver's license.
down, the most rewarding car on our 'road
"The wide powerband is a thrilling
reflection of the engine's huge torque."
"Great sounds...best voice of any
motor in the bunch. Shifting is precise as it comes. The
car begs to be flogged but is easy to drive--soft or
hard. Freaking awesome."
"It's fast, it's quick, it sticks,
it handles any curve you throw at it."
"Trigger-sharp throttle makes it
hard to be smooth in everyday traffic."
"Sucks gas like a 340-bhp sports
car--which is just what it is."
"This isn't the S4 I fell in love
with...it's a bit more mature to meet higher
expectations. But, at what price...?"
"Hugely entertaining; hugely
expensive; hugely wanted."