Roadshow Video Reviews
2010 Audi S4A smallish Audi with a biggish engine. Yeah, it works.
>> Giant killers -- they're a tradition in the car business. And this one is Audi's. It's the A4 done up in the S trim, their answer to AMG and M. Let's see if being last in the alphabet means being top of the heap, and check the tech. >> Our 2010 S4 arrived in brilliant red with the unfortunate choice of beige and black two--one upholstery. But all of that's quickly overlooked when you take stock of two things -- what's under the hood and what's in the dash. >> First of all, whatever you do with this car in terms of options, you get a nice High Res LCD up here, the MMI Interface, on a base car, or as base is an S4 it gets. This will at least show you things like vehicle setup, HVAC, audio and entertainment information. Our car, of course, has the better head unit, which has navigation. And it's a sweetheart -- little bigger screen, and as you can see, the resolution rewards it. That is some nice, fine dot ditch rendering and display -- love that. And this is a system powered by NVIDIA graphics. They blow their horn about that all the time. One of the ways you really see that in effect is when you go to position 3D. And go to the map at certain zoom levels, and you get this beautiful contouring of wherever you are. You can fly over it relatively smoothly with a little MMI controller. Now, let's move on to the audio system and the entertainment -- lot of options in this one, including the one that you see written on all the speakers. Bang & Olsen sound -- that means 505 watts of power out of a 10-channel amplification structure to 14 speakers. You've got a center fill. There's at least one sub. it's a great-sounding system -- a tad sterile to my ears, but that's just a matter of taste -- very accurate, very powerful. Your sources include AM and FM radio -- no HD radio, interestingly enough. SIRIUS is your satellite radio. Under the media button, a whole bunch of toys. We've got the juke box. That's a 40-gig drive with some space available for your own media, because it's there for the hard drive Nav system -- but again, some portioned out for you. As you can see, I've got an SD card punched in that's behind this door. Audi loves this thing, dual SD cards. And of course, we have the Audi media interface, which is basically an iPod interface. Maybe they just didn't want to license the name from Apple -- I don't know. But that lives in here. You've got this cable that goes to any number of iPod or iPhone or iPod Touch products, and then you've got this little sort of crochet French brassiere, where your portable can live. Now, I'm on the track menu right now, and I've got like, you know, 1,600 tracks in here. One thing I did notice is it's a little bit slow to cache and list. If I spin the knob real fast, you'll see that it either goes into this weird search mode, which lets you jump ahead in the line, but not very precisely, or if you don't spin the knob quite that fast, it's just really slow to get through track names. Now, Audi was one of the first companies to integrate the phone contacts off your smartphone via Bluetooth into the on-screen interface, and they remain one of the best. A nice trick here is, not only can you dial by the usual spinning around the numbers or voice command those numbers, but check this out. You can use voice command to call up entries in your actual contacts in natural language. Dial Burt Bacharach. >> The number isn't reached. >> Well, that used to be his number. And of course, as you've noticed, we've got the 6-speed manual. This is the base gearbox, by the way. There's also a 7-speed S tronic automatic. But this is kind of the way to go with this car and luckily, it's got great feel on the gearbox and good let-out on the clutch. Despite all the tech and the other toys in here, there's this odd sort of a schizophrenic thing about this car when I'm in the cabin, and that is, it's still pretty small. The 4-Series is not a big car. The back seats prove that. They're basically a joke unless you got midgets up in the front, and yet, this guy's 50,000 grand or north, even basically equipped with a few extra toys. I have a hard time reconciling those. Maybe it's just me. Interesting story in the engine bay on this car. An S4 is powered by a V6 these days, TFSI. Now we're getting all screwy, because right off the bat you think that means turbo. It doesn't. In Audi-speak, T could mean anything, turbo or supercharger or both or even -- I don't know why they did that. Anyway, this car is supercharged. There's the blower right on top -- 3 liter V6, 333 hp, 325 delicious foot pounds of torque, a la freight train. It's about a 5-second car, 0-60, and the mileage remains pretty good -- 18-27 with a manual. And you get a 1 mpg boost on the freeway with the automatic. >> Quattro is standard on an S4, of course. Optional is the addition of a torque vectoring rear differential. The other tantalizing drive train option is the 7-speed, S tronic gearbox. That's a dual clutch automated manual. I've driven it, liked it a lot, but not enough to walk away from this well-done manual transmission. >> I have a damn hard time finding something not to love about this car. First of all, Audi has a patent on smooth. No one does this. You feel it from the powertran through a very nice transmission. This is the manual, of course. Clutch and gearbox feel are real good, 333 is ample for a car this size. And one of the most amazing things is, this suspension, while definitely in the sport category, is really compliant. One odd quirk about the S4 is the rather optimistic 200-mile per hour speedometer. Maybe you'll go that fast -- not with a limiter installed, it won't. So why do it? Because all the legal speeds on this entire speedometer lived out in the tiny first inch and a half. It just doesn't even move in everyday driving. It's kind of weird. Something else Audi's done here is they've got very limited RPM flow. Most modern cars, when you put in the clutch, the RPMs float up high where they were before it drops down, making some good clean shifts just about impossible. This car doesn't. That needle drops pretty quickly after you put the clutch in and get off the gas. >> Okay, let's price out our little red friend. Starting at $47,000 -- that's where the S4 begins. On top of that you're going to want to add the Nav Pack. It's for $2,500. That's the 40-gig hard drive Nav with some space for your music. A la carte, consider B&O audio for a pretty reasonable $850. That's not bad. And the S tronic automatic, if you go that way, is $1,400. The last package to look at is performance stuff. There's this Audi Drive Select Package, which has their Drive Select sort of push button vehicle personality controller. You've got a torque vectoring rear differential. You pick up adaptive suspension all around, and dynamic steering -- almost $4,000 for that.