Hot on the tail of a new Audi A4 is the sharper S4 variant, which hits the road as a 2018 model.

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The S4 features a more aggressive exterior, but this is no mere appearance package.

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Under the hood, the S4 is powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine making 354 horsepower.

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Quattro all-wheel drive is standard for the S4 with a performance-oriented 40/60 front-to-rear split. A torque vectoring sport rear differential, however, is an optional upgrade.

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The sport sedan rides on a multilink independent suspension at all four corners. Check the right boxes and it'll also gain adaptive dampers, boosting control.

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Audi claims a 0-to-60 mph time of just 4.4 seconds, which is the best in its class.

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On the road, the S4's performance can best be described as neutral and controlled.

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Acceleration is great and there's plenty of grip. The neutrality comes from the lack of noticeable under- or oversteer during spirited driving. It just goes where you point it.

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If I've one complaint about the S4, it's that the V6 engine isn't as loud as I'd like. The competition from Mercedes and Jaguar are just more audibly visceral.

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Still, I think that fans of the understated design will appreciate the exhaust not drawing attention with every shift.

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The 2018 Audi S4 hits the road this month starting at around $50,900 for the Premium Plus model or $55,800 for the better-equipped Prestige.

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