In recent months I’ve driven a couple of cars that were considered sporting enough by their manufacturers that the letter S was part of the package. One was the Audi A7 TDI with a sport equipment group and a S Line badge on the fender. The other was a Chrysler 300S AWD and it, too, had a badge with the sibilant letter between R and T, in its case on the trunk lid.
The Audi had a TDI engine with 428 lb ft of torque and the Chrysler had a Hemi under the hood so both cars’ were indeed sporting and each has enough get up and go to get there very quickly with little effort. Both cars’ allow you to change dynamic settings so you’re actually getting something besides a badge that says S for your money. The problem is that both cars make you use the infotainment system to put the car into a more sporting dynamic mode. On the A7 that makes a little bit of sense because there are three basic settings plus the option for custom settings, something that can’t be accomplished with a simple button, but I suspect that most enthusiastic drivers like your humble correspondent won’t mess with the custom settings and just want to see that S light up in the instrument panel.
It seems to me that not putting a dedicated switch on the console or steering wheel to activate sport mode is a needless bit of cost cutting and that people who buy a S model want more than a badge on the outside, they want a button to engage warp mode on the inside as well. If you want to fine tune things, okay, so use the computers, but what’s wrong with a button? Both the Audi and the Chrysler let you deactivate stability control or turn it back on with just the press of a switch, why not the sport mode too? Also, it seems to me that there’s a safety issue at play. A simple button on the console or wheel can be activated or deactivated without taking your eyes off of the road. While the Audi MMI system is controlled from the console, you still have to look at the info screen to use it. So what sayeth the Best & Brightest? If you’re buying an S model, do you want to use the infotainment system to change dynamic modes, or do you want your S buttons too?