2000 Audi S4
By Ann Job of MSN Autos
Think Audi sedans are aloof autobahn runners? The new 2000 S4 shows another side of Audi—a more BMW-like side. This performance-oriented four door comes with an exceptionally wide torque range, capable suspension, big brakes and tires, even a 6-speed manual.
Now comes a new Audi that retains Audi's capable character while showing a sportier, performance orientation.
Same mold, but . . .
"The S4 mission is to raise the aspirations and desires for the Audi brand," said Walter Haneck, marketing director. "It's going to become key as a foundation element in our performance initiative . . . It will add sharpness to the full A4 range."
Two turbos for the engine
The S4 surpasses both with a sophisticated, 2.7-liter 250-horsepower double overhead cam bi-turbo V6 that's designed for plentiful torque and quick throttle response.
Audi chose to install two small turbos—one for each bank of cylinders—rather than one big turbocharger in the S4 so there would be less turbo lag. Because the smaller turbos can wind up quickly and get about their business, the engine responds more readily to a driver's demands.
There's also an intercooler on each cylinder bank to cool the intake air and improve combustion efficiency. And, Audi shaped the inlet ports to create a tumbling motion inside, which also increases efficiency.
Peak torque in the S4 is 258 lb-ft and comes on at 1850 revolutions per minute, which is very low in the rpm range, meaning there's good low-speed oomph here. This peak also holds through a rev range that tops out at 3600 rpm, according to Audi.
Feel the rush
Don't think this power is scary and uncontrolled. Those big, 4-wheel disc brakes with an anti-lock system were at the ready, always, to slow the S4 down. They—and the P225/45 17-inch performance tires that gripped the road strongly—worked impressively.
Yes, six speeds
Still, fuel economy in the S4 isn't the best. The 17 mpg city rating for the manual transmission model is worse than the 18 mpg rating for the V8-powered Mercedes C43 with automatic transmission.
Firm, yet pleasing suspension
There's a tightness to the S4 as you ride and steer, but there's a good amount of compliance, too. I didn't feel rough roads intimately, though I felt vibrations in all my travels, even on smooth-looking streets.
The S4 is kind enough in its ride to make 3-hour trips quite comfortable, not grueling. Yet, if you find yourself taking that mountain curve a bit faster than you anticipated, this car rises to the occasion to maintain its dignity—and yours—quite capably.
There is badging, however, that notes this Audi has a bi-turbo V6 and the headlights are standard xenon, which provide greater illumination than conventional headlamps. Note that xenon headlamps are extra on the C43 and 1999 BMW M3.
Inside the S4, the seats and sport steering wheel are about the only things that tell you this is a sportier A4. The standard leather on the sport front seats can include contrasting suede, if you want.
Rear seats remain quite firm. Watch as you climb in back there. You may find yourself feeling as if you have to sit up straight and pay attention!
Lots of standard features
Unlike its primary competition such as the M3 and C43—which have traction control systems—the S4 is the only one that comes standard with an all-wheel-drive system.
Audi's Quattro, which uses a torque-sensing (Torsen) center differential to vary power between the front and rear axles, depending on slippage, is now in its fourth generation. The newest Quattro development is the addition of a system that overlays the Torsen mechanicals and redistributes torque from one wheel to the other on each axle.
Other standard features on the S4 include side airbags that work to protect chest injuries in a side crash, 10-way power front seats, footwell lighting, fog lights, and automatic air conditioner with sun intensity measurement and pollen filter.
For the first time, Audi offers an optional navigation system in 2000. Unlike the C43, however, the S4—indeed, no Audi models—offer an onboard emergency notification system.
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