By on November 16, 2011

I needed a suitable car for a spirited 500-mile run to the “coolest small town in America,” and back. One leaped to mind: the Audi S4 with its optional active differential. In our first encounter, the current “B8” S4 underwhelmed me. Though quick and capable, it just didn’t feel special. “A4 3.0T” seemed more apt. But that car lacked the trick diff. And metro Detroit’s roads aren’t the most challenging. A re-test was warranted. The roads of Southeastern Ohio and West Virginia would provide it.

My first reaction upon seeing the imola yellow sedan: “So much for stealth.” I needn’t have worried. Though subtly attractive, the S4 is nevertheless a four-door sedan that’s decidedly less sexy than the related S5 coupe. Even in yellow it doesn’t attract unwanted attention from law enforcement the way a sports car would. Scratch the “even in yellow:” against a background of fall foliage the bright hue serves as camouflage. The wheels’ $150 “titanium” finish attractively contrasts with the yellow, but could be obtained for free by simply not washing the regular 19s (the brakes’ plentiful dust is nearly the same color). The tested S4’s black leather interior is similarly tasteful to a fault and all business, with only some dark gray alcantara and aluminum trim to liven the place up. (Silver/black and red/black are available interior color options, though the latter does nix the butt-restraining alcantara and require another $1,000 for this favor.) Audi’s “MMI” interface is much easier to operate here than in the Q5 crossover, as the shifter serves as an armrest while working the system’s knob and foursome of buttons.

The biggest problem with the drive from Detroit to West Virginia: with roads running straight to the horizon (and far beyond), the first 250 miles are mind-numbing. The S4’s performance tires clomp and roar on Michigan’s pockmarked concrete highways, less so on Ohio’s smoother asphalt. Luckily even the S4’s base sound system is quite capable of drowning them out without distortion. The car’s ride, though far from harsh, jiggles enough that putting off rest stops is not an option. Every ripple gets reported to the ears and bladder. Even the S4’s rearview mirror is stiff. The driver’s seat includes four-way power lumbar and provides very good lateral support, but I can’t get comfortable in it. Put less delicately, the seat often puts my ass to sleep. If there had been passengers in the back seat, they would have found it livable but tight. Though the S4’s body structure and interior possesses the solidity and refinement expected of a premium car, it’s not the ideal turnpike cruiser.

A bright spot: hitched to a six-speed manual and driving all four wheels in a 3,847-pound sedan, the 333-horsepower supercharged 3.0-liter V6 covers 25 highway miles on each gallon of gas (the trip computer reports 25.8 while driving nearly 80 MPH, but manual calculations suggest it’s about one MPG high). Drive it like you stole it down a mountain road, and you’ll still observe mid-to-high teens. The previous-generation S4’s 340-horsepower 4.2-liter V8 was far thirstier, with EPA ratings of 13/20 vs. 18/27. Unfortunately, what the engine giveth the fuel gauge taketh away: the latter reliably reported a 0-mile DTE with about three gallons left in the tank.

Once south and east of Columbus the roads become increasingly entertaining, and with Ohio 555, full of tight curves and blind knolls, the fun really begins. The V6, though it lacks the soul of the previous-generation S4’s 340-horsepower 4.2-liter V8, produces an encouraging mechanical whir when revved, some of it courtesy of the supercharger, along with a modest amount of exhaust roar. (With no lag, the blower’s muted whine is the only sign that boost is in play.) The “3.0T” engine is louder here than in the A6 and A7, but still far from too loud. There’s no drone when cruising at highway speeds. Oddly, the six is least refined at idle, where it suffers from a touch of the shakes.


The V6 is so strong through its wide midrange that deep downshifts are rarely called for—a sharp contrast to the Mazda RX-8 I’ll drive the rest of the long weekend. Push down on the accelerator, and the six rockets the car smoothly out of curve exits. This broad torque curve proves especially welcome on West Virginia 14, which is much more heavily traveled than I had hoped. Half the state drives pickups, the other half drives Chevy Cavaliers (which I hereby nominate as the Official State Car of the mountain state). The blown six is ever ready to jump past clots of them whenever the briefest passing zone pops up.

If you need to shift, or simply want to, the S4’s slick, solid, moderate-of-throw stick serves better than Audi shifters of years past. Second can be a bit hard to hit when rushing a downshift, but this is the full extent of its shortcomings. Unlike in late model Volkswagens where the tach was numbered in hundreds, the S4’s rev-meter is numbered in the thousands with a large font and is consequently far easier to read at a glance. A light and/or beep 500 rpm short of the redline would be even better, but wasn’t much missed. Don’t care for a clutch? A seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual is optional here—and the only transmission Europeans can get. On the other hand, they can still get an S4 wagon, while we’re limited to the sedan. An S4 wagon with a manual transmission? No longer offered anywhere.

I take a side trip to hilly Charleston to sample a couple of R-Design Volvos—you’ll read about them later. Afterwards, the S4 is a perfect match for the more convoluted sections of US60 east of Gauley Bridge. At Rainelle I take a shortcut, miss a turn (no nav in this lightly optioned $49,625 car), and end up on a delightfully undulating single-lane ribbon of asphalt. Later, on the way back to Detroit, with a nav system lifted off my old man to warn of impending hairpins, the S4 chews up WV16 (with an especially glorious stretch after it splits from 33) and OH26 once across the Ohio. If anything, the S4 makes driving all but the twistiest bits of these roads too easy.

The Audi’s steering deserves only second billing in the credits. It’s fairly quick, naturally weighted, firm at highway speeds (especially in “sport” mode), and finds its voice as the car’s high limits are approached. Placing the car precisely never poses a challenge. But luxury was clearly a top priority, and the system doesn’t feel as nuanced or as direct as the best. You do your part, and it will do its. Melding as one? It’d rather not.

The S4’s suspension takes up some of the steering’s slack. As mentioned above, though far from harsh it’s communicative even when you don’t care to chat. Firm springs and taut damping keep body motions under control, with just a hint of float in quick transitions to remind you that this isn’t an extreme sport machine. Partly because the V6 weighs less than the old V8, and partly because the differential is now ahead of the transmission (enabling a 55/45 weight distribution), the current S4 doesn’t plow through tight curves like the previous one did. Instead, it feels almost perfectly balanced. The 255/35ZR19 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx tires grip the tarmac tightly as long as no snow is falling. Add in all-wheel-drive and strong, firm, easily modulated brakes, and even the most challenging roads can be tackled with extreme confidence.


The resulting lack of drama can get a bit boring, as discovered in my first drive. But with the optional active differential, progressive, easily controllable oversteer is just a dip into the throttle away. Unlike with the Acura TL’s SH-AWD system, driving sideways isn’t happening without an unpaved road surface or extreme steering inputs. But a tighter line is there for the taking, just dial in the desired number of degrees with your right foot. This agility enhancement should be standard equipment in an “S” car. As is, it’s $1,100 very well spent. I would not buy an S4 without it.

Ultimately, the S4 proved a perfect choice for the trip to Lewisberg. Some other cars would have been more engaging and entertaining. Others would have been more isolating and comfortable. But for moving rapidly along an unfamiliar twisty byway with never a wheel out of place, rain or shine, the S4 could hardly have been beaten. It’ll get you there, quickly and securely and even somewhat efficiently, with plenty of smiles along the way.

Audi provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data.

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70 Comments on “Review: 2011 Audi S4...”

  • avatar

    Doesn’t the S4/A4 share platform bits with the Jetta? If this is true the backseat should be fine unless I’m very much mistaken. I sat in the backseat of my friend’s ’11 Jetta and had loads of room. I’m average height and he can’t even drive with the backseat all the way back at 6’2″. That is a great color though. Greige/black is a little old. I have a black car, but very much like to see more variety.

    If that’s the same radio Lithium I’m thinking of I like it, but Octane is better. :)

    • 0 avatar

      No relationship at all with the Jetta. Longitudinal rather than transverse powertrain. A few hundred extra pounds. And a much tighter rear seat.

    • 0 avatar

      Nope, no relation whatsoever. Volkswagen ditched the traditional “platform sharing” where in the past the B5/B6 Passat and Audi A4 were very much the same platform.

      The B8 A4/S4/A5/S5 are based on the new Audi-specific MLP design that Volkswagen does not share. There are crossover items that can be found in the HVAC/subsystems and some suspension bits, but they are otherwise significantly different platforms.

      Moving forward the only sharing that will go on will be with the lower-priced MQB platform, first to bow with the upcoming Audi A3 and then the Golf 7. Even there, MQB will give Audi the ability to use their own set of suspensions, things like integrated aluminum for weight savings (think the Audi TT MK2 design).

    • 0 avatar

      The S4 has no relation to the Jetta or any VW.

  • avatar

    I had the chance to drive an S4 for a weekend and thought it was a very engaging car with small back seats as well as ass-numbing front seats (agree with you on that Michael). It had a very solid feel to it but honestly a V8 is a better fit in my opinion.

    • 0 avatar

      To be fair, I spent the rest of the long weekend driving a Mazda RX-8.

    • 0 avatar

      Sadly, seats are the one area where Audi really could improve. The sport seats on my A3 are easily my biggest complaint about the car.

      I’ve driven the S4 several times and found the seats to be miles ahead of the seats in my A3, but still could use some improvement.

      That said, I had a Q5 Premium Plus loaner two weeks ago and I thought the seats were fantastic, if not lacking a bit in side bolster. Then again, the car ain’t designed for carving canyons.

    • 0 avatar

      I haven’t spent much time in the alcantara seats. Only a half-hour test drive, but I remember not really liking them. Probably because they’re too grippy to make frequent slight position adjustments. I love the Silk Nappa leather seats that my buddy ended up with in his ’11 S4 though. I’ve done a few good road trips in them and I have absolutely no complaints about comfort. It’s also the nicest leather I’ve ever seen in a vehicle. They feel like you could make a great ball glove out of them. They’re not slippery like most automotive leather, but slippery enough to shift around when you want.

      I’m surprised you found the seats to be tight in your last review, Michael. Did you notice that again? I’m a broad-shouldered 5’10” 200-pounder, and my S4-owning buddy is a broad-shouldered 6’3″ 200-pounder, and they seem about right to both of us. We also don’t find it uncomfortable to take road trips with two other passengers of similar size. Maybe we’re just used to compact cars.

  • avatar

    Anywhere in that area, that’s a great area for a Sunday drive. My favorite though is to go East on US Route 22 from I-77 to Cadiz, Ohio. Curvy, hilly and very scenic.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for the tip. I’d thought that the curves had largely petered out that far north. Biggest impediment,though, is I’m generally trying to head SE, not SW-NE.

      In many ways my route was better last year. 800 is an excellent north-south drive that cuts across 22. Just about anything running north from the Ohio River is great fun for an hour or so.

  • avatar

    Micheal, More comparative notes with the TL SH-AWD!

    The TL is a little bigger outside, little bigger inside, but similar weight and not too disparate power means this is a nice comparo to ponder the german price premium on near even terms.

    (I’m also hot for the TL, so more comments are always better. =D)

    • 0 avatar

      I really like Acura’s SH-AWD system, but the TL’s steering makes the S4’s seem chatty, its chassis isn’t nearly as poised, and its tires don’t provide nearly enough grip to fully exploit what the chassis is capable of. Great drivetrain in need of a better chassis. Full review is here:

      • 0 avatar

        Much appreciated. People not feeling overly snobbish about their brands would, me thinks, be better off with the TL. How is the A4/S4 faring in terms of reliability?

        VW/Audi keeps saying they are getting better, but then brings out things like the 2.0T (which was unreliable junk when it first arrived in 2006, but has since improved).

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks for the responses. How about in comparison to the pre-MMC TL, with the earlier EPS tuning and 19″ PS2s?

        It seemed your review on the 2012 mostly highlighted the ways in which the TL moved backwards from the earlier iteration, at least as far as the 6MT models and target audience were concerned.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s been too long. But I’ll give it a shot anyway: the earlier TL’s chassis was quite crude compared to this Audi. Worse ride, worse handling, and not remotely as confidence-inspiring on roads like those I drove in the Audi. But a great-looking car with a great engine and manual transmission.

      • 0 avatar

        Reliability? It’s too soon to say, really, as lately many German cars have a tendency to behave for four years, then suffer from an increasing number of problems. Unless the manufacturer drops a couple of balls early on, like BMW with the HPFP.

        One ball dropped with the 2010 S4: plastic water pumps failed in many of them. This happened in just about every Audi with a V6 engine last year. Even with this problem the 2010 is within the range I consider “average,” if just barely, while the 2011 is solidly average.

        TrueDelta’s latest reliability stats:

        The next update will be out soon. The scores for the S4 won’t be changing much.

      • 0 avatar

        Classic rich people car then…by the time us middle class people can afford to buy it it is unreliable and expensive.

        Which is why Acura, Lexus and Infiniti exist.

      • 0 avatar

        There’s no such thing as a cheap Audi, BMW, or Mercedes. If the purchase price doesn’t get you, the repair and maintenance costs will. The market is pretty intelligent this way. A car that was $50,000 new is $25,000 used for a reason.

    • 0 avatar

      There needs to be an Acura TL vs Audi S4 rematch!

      Here’s their previous encounter with each other

      Did Audi update their AWD system for 2011-2012 to compete or exceed that of Honda/Acura’s (Super Handling) SH-AWD?

      • 0 avatar

        Audi hasn’t changed their car since that article, but Acura has softened theirs. Even before the softening the article notes that the Audi’s suspension provided much better body control AND a better ride. They liked the Acura’s steering better back in 2010, but as I note in my review of the 2012 Acura they tossed that advantage with the revisions for the current model year.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s a fun article, my GF and I have been using Tupercharger in conversation for quite some time now thanks to it. =D

        Mr Karesh, your answer to my followup seems to indicate you’re thinking of the older generation TL, I was just asking about the pre mid model change, meaning the 2009-2011 model (2010-2011 for Manual transmissions).

      • 0 avatar

        No, thilly – it’s “Thupercharger”


    • 0 avatar

      What a difference sticky summer tires made on my 2012 TL SH-AWD with 19″ wheels! The car seemed transformed so much for the better. I am now using the OEM Goodyear tires for the winter and find them noisy, rough-riding, and unresponsive, in contrast to my Continental ContiExtreme DW tires. I chose the TL over the S4 not only for the huge difference in price, comparably equipped, but also for the TL’s more spacious interior and presumably superior reliability. Nonetheless I still covet the S4.

  • avatar

    Screw the S4, get the keys to that old Buick and give us a ride report. That thing is sexy.

  • avatar

    Lithium is good, but to balance out the Gen X-grunge stuff you gotta move over to First (1st) Wave sometimes!

    Love the A4, always have. However, this generation has done one thing wrong: no “sweet spot” option for those of us that don’t want ecomony car performance (four cylinder turbos) or performance-sedan speed (turbo’d 6’s and V8).

    Where is the basic 3.2 V6 or 3.6 VR6 for those of us that want some NA love?

    • 0 avatar

      The 3.2 was discontinued here following a low take rate in 2009. An uprated 2.0T would probably make more sense. The aftermarket provides.

      I spend quite a bit of time on First Wave and Alt Nation. There are about ten stations I save as pre-sets in each press car. None of them consistently play what I like, so I switch through them often.

    • 0 avatar

      The VR6 is for the transwerse engine cars like A3 and TT. It’s not a good fit for the A4/S4.

      Regarding the V6, first they axed the 6 speed manual and then when those customers went elsewhere they dropped the V6. I assume the manual will die on the 2.0T once a DSG transmission is available for the longitudinal cars.

      • 0 avatar

        The VR6 does exist in longitudinal applications, currently in the Touareg and Cayenne and earlier in the Passat. A longitudinal DSG is optional in the S4.

      • 0 avatar

        The only longitudinal Passat was the B5 (1996-2005 Europe, 1998-2005 North America), but it had a 2.8L V6, not a VR6. Interestingly, though, it was available with a VR5 in Europe.

        Edit: the pre-1988 Passats (Dasher/Quantum) were also longitudinal.

        Edit: You’re welcome!

      • 0 avatar

        Ouch. Thanks for the correction, Marko. Somehow it slipped my mind that the B5 Passat used the Audi V6.

      • 0 avatar

        I should have said it doesn’t fit in a sedan, I think the VR6 is a tall engine with a deep sump.

        It might fit in an CUV , not sure about fitting in the A4 and A4.

        Didn’t know about the DSG for the S4, sadly the manual transmissions option in US Audis may not be around for much longer.

      • 0 avatar

        The VR6 fit in the Mk4 and Mk5 Golf and Jetta, as well as the Mk4 Passat.

        Audi stated recently that even though manual gearboxes are no longer available in Europe for the facelifted S4 and S5, they will still be available in North America.

      • 0 avatar

        VR6 will fit in transverse applications, but it is a tight fit in a sedan with longitudinal layout.

        The reported sludge problems on the original 1.8T engine fitted to the A4 were partly because of the size of the oil pan in the longitudinal layout. Sludge wasn’t a problem for the Jetta, Golf, Audi TT etc. Fitting the large capacity diesel filter was the part of the recommendation to mitigate this on the A4.

        A VR6 has an even deeper oil pan than the 1.8T , it’s one of the issues with lowering the suspension on a Jetta or TT. It’s really easy to crack the pan.

  • avatar

    Great review as always, Michael.

    Now, this might be and “apples and oranges” comparison, but how does this car compare to the Subaru Legacy 2.5GT and the Volvo S60 T6 AWD? Of those, I’ve only driven the S60, and it definitely falls into the “isolating and comfortable” category you mention. To me, it handles quite well, too, but then again, I haven’t driven too many “performance” cars.

    • 0 avatar

      The Legacy drives like an appliance. Roomy, refined, and competent, but awful shifter and not much fun. Full review:

      The Volvo is cushier, with less competent handling but much better seats. As briefly mentioned in the review, I drove an S60 R-Design along the way, because in terms of specifications it’s the closest competitor to the S4. But I now have one coming as a press car, so that review will have to wait. And I’ll likely wait until after the S60 review to cover the XC60 R-Design.

  • avatar

    I found the S4 seats to be reasonably comfortable, at the very least a lot better than the standard A4 seats which I thought were awful – flat, hard, and just generally unpleasant. The B8 A4 is still the best looking car in its class, but I think Audi blew it with the interior.

    Seats aside, far too much of the B8 A4 interior is black plastic, particularly at S4 prices. The B7 may not have had the technology, but its mini-A6 interior looked the part of a premium car, whereas this does not.

    Audi is often credited as the interior design master (which is usually deserved) but in this case I think BMW beat them with the F30 3 series. It just looks nicer, and more expensive.

    Also, note to Audi USA: make actual leather arm rests standard on Prestige level cars. I won’t get into the dozen seat and wheel choices we don’t get, but the British can spec leather armrests in their A4 for 200 quid. US? Unavailable at any price. Why?

  • avatar
    word is bond

    So I won’t be able to build Stick Shift S4 Avant dream cars on the website anymore?
    Damn you, Audi!

  • avatar

    Yet another ‘off yellow’ car paint job – last year it was lime green, this year yellow…..

    I just can’t help but think that these fluorescent paint jobs just aren’t going to age well (think 1970’s brown)

  • avatar

    What a sweet looking cab!

  • avatar

    I have a 2011 A4 with the titanium Sport package. Except for the yellow paint and the sweet 3.0T engine, my car is functionally identical, right down to the 6 speed stick. If you have the opportunity to drive one of these cars, I highly recommend them. so far, 10 miles with no issues and one 300 mile sprint down from Maine that was effortless. There aren’t a lot of cars that can cruise 75 miles an hour down a highway and return 34 mpg.

  • avatar

    Have to say I’m not a big fan of this car. It’s still a quite boring to me, both in the looks the department (every Audi looks exactly the same nowadays and the sedans especially look tired IMO) as well as the usual yawn inducing Audi understeer characteristics. Also, Audi’s interiors were once awesome compared to their competitors but now they’re just merely sufficient, and I agree about not liking the alcantara sport seats, I’ve had some experience with them in a previous gen A4 (2.5TDI) and liked the stock cloth seats of another lowly 1.9TDI A4 much better. In fact I liked the latter better in general; the 5sp was much smoother than the jerky 6sp manual at that time and the nose of that 2.5TDI was heavy as hell.

    Anyway, personally I would still prefer an E90 335i over this but with the new F30 around the corner I think this Audi will have a tough time.

    Now I will proceed to show my BMW fanboyism by posting this link to a 5th gear video of the 1 series M completely trashing the RS3 and showing the problem with Audi’s persisting understeer problems.

    • 0 avatar

      Wait – Tiff Needell prefers cars that oversteer?!?!?!

      What a SHOCK! (/sarcasm)

      Tiff’s “RWD is better nah, nah, nah, I can’t HEAR you!!!” schtick is SO tired – he should retire. He’s lost touch with the realities of the modern automotive market.

  • avatar

    ” (the trip computer reports 25.8 while driving nearly 80 MPH, but manual calculations suggest it’s about one MPG high). Drive it like you stole it down a mountain road, and you’ll still observe mid-to-high teens.”

    Finding it hard to swallow the gas mileage of the above with the picture clearly denoting an average of 12.8 mpg. Maybe that was the title of a song on Radio Lithium?

  • avatar

    As an owner of a 2011 S4 who was slightly bruised by your first review of this car, I’m gratified to hear that you discovered some of the magic that makes the S4 quite special indeed.

    “Ultimately, the S4 proved a perfect choice for the trip to Lewisberg. Some other cars would have been more engaging and entertaining. Others would have been more isolating and comfortable. But for moving rapidly along an unfamiliar twisty byway with never a wheel out of place, rain or shine, the S4 could hardly have been beaten. It’ll get you there, quickly and securely and even somewhat efficiently, with plenty of smiles along the way.”

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    FWIW, at 6′ 2″ and 200 lbs, I find the front seats to be just about perfect. A 6-hour road trip to Northern Michigan a few weeks ago with my wife proved the seats’ mettle to both of us (she’s 5′ 2″ and about 110 lbs). I can also sit in the back seat pretty comfortably, which is not something that I could say about any previous A4/S4, or indeed even the 3-series or Infiniti G….

    I’m completely in love with my car – it does everything well, from commuting, to traveling, to comfortably transporting my family of 4, to running the 1/4 mile in 12.7 @ 109 mph (mine has some “special sauce” that liberates an additional 50 hp or so….)

    To anyone who doubts, my advice is to test-drive one – that’s all it will take.

  • avatar

    “Oddly, the six is least refined at idle, where it suffers from a touch of the shakes.”

    Why is that “odd”? It’s quite common for a v6 engine to have this problem, it’s why GM developed a counter-shaft in it’s 90-degree V6 back in the early 90’s.

    Another “auto-journalist” that actually knows nothing about cars. This type of thing wouldn’t surprise me if I read this at motortrend, or say Jalopnik, but I always had a higher respect for the articles here……

    • 0 avatar

      Balance shafts were around long before GM finally fit one to the 3.8, this engine has one, and it still shakes at idle considerably more than most of the many other V6s I’ve experienced.

      I’d suggest not being so quick to call others ignorant.

      • 0 avatar


        If you open the driver’s door with the car idling, does the trailing edge visibly shake? Of course vibrations are being amplified along the length of the door, but I felt the same vibrations through the seat of my pants while sitting at lights, and don’t recall seeing the same effect on other cars before. Noticed nothing untoward above idle.

      • 0 avatar

        Ironically, I haven’t driven the car since you asked the question. I’ve been driving the 2012 Kia Soul Exclaim I threatened to buy recently. (I did buy it – what a fun car!)


        Anyway, I’ll be S4-ing tomorrow, so I’ll let you know.

      • 0 avatar

        I tried what you suggested with the car in neutral and in drive (mine has the DSG transmission) and noticed nothing untoward. In drive, there’s a slight vibration, but it’s very minor. In neutral, it’s almost imperceptible. You certainly couldn’t SEE the vibration, regardless of which part of the car you looked at – even the open driver’s door.

        Again, I’m guessing that this was something specific to the car you drove. I don’t recall reading even a single complaint about vibration on any of the several Audi forums I peruse….

      • 0 avatar

        There could be different engine mounts with the manual transmission. Or maybe something was wrong with the car in question, like a fouled spark plug. The door edge was shaking big time while idling in neutral.

    • 0 avatar

      Do you think balance shafts are an unusual feature? It’s odd because one expects a smooth idle from such an otherwise refined powertrain, and if other V6 engines can idle smoothly, why not this one?

      It may have even just been a minor issue with this particular example. Maybe one of the mounts was just a little off center when it was tightened down, for example. Or maybe that tank of fuel was just a little sub-par. I haven’t personally noticed any idle roughness in the S4 I’m familiar with, but then I’m used to inline-fours.

      • 0 avatar

        VW seems to have a lot of problems with their North American engines in general, quite often I go back to them and find that they just don’t do well with them. Think about it:

        1. The 2.slow was neither fuel efficient nor fast nor reliable (known for electronic gremlins).
        2. The old TDI was decent, although the turbos had a habit of going (my aunt’s went at under 100,000.
        3. The otherwise great 1.8t has massive issues with busted timing belts resulting in catastrophic engine damage.
        4. The 2.0T came out, and was good with decent mileage, but had multiple reliability issues that usually had it eating oil by around 100,000.
        5. The 3.6 in the Passats had a habit of shearing something or other off (sorry, my memory got foggy here), once again requiring replacement of the entire engine.
        6. The new TDI has developed a less significant but still reasonably worrisome reputation for grenading.
        7. The only reliable engine in recent memory, the 2.5, is a total pig on gas.

        I’m not saying that their engines are refined or nice to use (or that this Audi’s engine is bound to be unreliable), many of them are great, but I’m so frustrated by seemingly obvious issues that VW fails to solve or look into, like (potentially) the one Michael pointed out.

      • 0 avatar

        No, they’re not an unusual feature.

        My S4 idles as smoothly as any other V-6 car I can recall experiencing. Other S4s of this vintage also idled without issues, so I’m guessing that it was an isolated case, possibly caused by a slight-lower-than-normal idles speed.

      • 0 avatar


        What does any of that have to do with the S4?

    • 0 avatar

      My point was, basically, and you are right in thinking it was a mini-rant, that I’m not surprised that some aspect of what is otherwise a great (and in many ways ideal) VW powerplant is unrefined/unfinished. They have a history of good technology, and good ideas, but questionable (although improving) implementation.
      The most tragic of these is, as always, the engine, since so many manufacturers are able to produce long-lasting and comparatively smooth engines as well.

      As I VW/Audi fanboy (although less so now), this was consistently disappointing. If you want citing, well, see CR, this website’s multiple comments about Audi’s 2.0T engine issues (especially in 2006-08) as well as the anti-2.0 comments constantly flying around, numerous used car reviews, lengthy online forum posts etc.

      • 0 avatar

        Problems with engines are hardly specific to VW/Audi (BMW N54 High Pressure Fuel Pump, anyone?). All manufacturers go through this.

        What I have a problem with is your suggestion that VW/Audi engines are somehow more affected that other manufacturers’ efforts (Toyota oil-sludge problems, anyone?).

        It’s also incredibly ironic that you would cite CR in comments on a review written by the guy who has shown that CR’s data is suspect at best.

        Just sayin’.

      • 0 avatar

        Mr. Karesh is entitled to his only opinion, but Consumer Report is still the most trusted source as of right now.

  • avatar

    I rented an A4 turbo diesel for a week and was impressed with the car, and totally amazed by the torque of the diesel. And by the economy.

  • avatar

    Why is the MMI in the center console and not with the Gear lever like here in Germany? Is that a US thing?

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