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Audi has experienced great success with its sporty S models over a period of twenty years and the German car maker is now looking to build on that success with the new Audi S4, which assumes a top position in the new A4 family. The performance car offers local buyers a newly developed engine, intelligent lightweight design and a package of innovative technologies from the full-size sedan.

Under the bonnet is a turbo V6 engine that produces 260 kW and a hefty 500 Nm of torque between 1,370 and 4,500 RPM. This is enough to accelerate the Audi S4 from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds, and up to an electronically governed top speed of 250 km/h. Fuel usage is a claimed  7.3 liters per 100 km.

In the new S4, a fast and smoothly shifting eight-speed tiptronic handles the power transfer. Its lower gears have short, sporty ratios, while the upper gears are long to reduce revs and fuel consumption. When the driver releases the accelerator pedal at a speed between 55 and 160 km/h the automatic transmission switches over to an efficient freewheeling mode.

The quattro permanent all-wheel drive makes a large contribution to the sporty handling of the S4. In normal driving, it distributes engine forces with a slight emphasis of the rear wheels – if necessary the majority of forces can be directed to the axle with better traction.

Torque vectoring optimizes handling and stability in fast cornering with minimal brake interventions. The optional sport differential actively distributes torque between the rear wheels. The five-link front and rear suspensions enable significant comfort gains with emphatically sporty response. An alternative to electromechanical power steering is dynamic steering which varies its steering gear ratio according to the driving speed. The front brakes have internally-vented discs that are 350 mm in diameter. They are gripped by black (or optionally red) painted six-piston fixed calipers with S lettering.

The new S model is distinguished by its cultivated sportiness. The clean design with its strong horizontal orientation makes the spaciously designed interior – which seats five persons – appear even larger. The horizontal lines of the instrument panel with its wide band of air vents convey an impression of generous width. At night, LED light conductors trace the contours of the doors and the center console – in 30 colors with the optional ambient light package. Thanks to the vehicle’s excellent aeroacoustics, the interior noise level is exceptionally low.

The optional S sport seats have integrated head restraints, adjustable lateral supports and a pneumatic massage function. Fine Nappa leather is optional in the colors black, rotor gray or magma red with diamond pattern, contrasting stitching and an S badge. The color black dominates in the interior, which is set off by contrasting inlays made of matt brushed aluminum.

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State-of-the-art: infotainment display and control

Thanks to the fundamentally new control and display concept, the driver can control all functions of the new S4 effortlessly and intuitively. The optional Audi virtual cockpit, the fully digital instrument cluster, shows all key information on a 12.3″ TFT display in brilliant resolution, a high level of detail and intricately rendered graphic effects. The “View” button on the sport leather steering wheel with multifunction plus is used to switch between the different user interfaces. Three views are available, including an exclusive sport mode with the tachometer as the dominant element.

The main operating unit is the MMI control panel on the center console, which is also new. When MMI navigation plus with MMI touch is installed, the rotary push-button control has a touchpad for zooming on the map and entering characters. Like with a smartphone, the MMI operating logic is designed for the fewest steps possible, including intelligent free-text search known as MMI search. The new voice control can also process expressions and sentences from everyday speech such as: “Where can I refuel?”

Another high-end option for the new S4 is the head-up display. It projects relevant information onto the windshield as symbols and numbers. They appear to hover around two meters in front of the driver within a window area measuring 200 x 80 mm. The human eye, which is accustomed to longer focal distances, acquires this information extremely quickly.

The Audi phone box connects smartphones to the on-board antenna and charges them inductively based on the Qi standard. The Bang & Olufsen sound system with its new type of 3D sound adds the spatial dimension of height. Its amplifier delivers 755 watts of audio power to 19 loudspeakers.

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Leading role: driver assistance systems

The new Audi S4 is right at the forefront in its class with a broad array of driver assistance systems. The systems come from the full-size sedan class; its intelligent interplay represents the next step toward piloted driving.

Playing a central role here is adaptive cruise control (ACC) Stop&Go including traffic jam assist. ACC maintains a specified distance to the vehicle ahead. The driver can set this distance and the control dynamics over several stages. Its Stop&Go function brakes the car to a full stop and lets it start off again automatically at the driver’s request. Over a speed range from 0 to 65 km/h, traffic jam assist – another function of ACC – can also take over steering on well-built roads, as long as the traffic is moving slowly. The rear cross traffic assist, exit warning, turn assist, obstacle avoidance assist and Audi pre sense systems further enhance safety. The predictive efficiency assistant, unique in this vehicle class, helps by offering drivers situation-specific tips on how to save fuel.

Sporty understatement: exterior design

The appearance of the new S4 is sporty but not ostentatious. The bumper, air inlets and side sills feature distinctive contours. Many of the add-on parts are painted in graduated tones of matt gray. Aluminum inlays accentuate its design. The exterior mirror housings shine in aluminum look. The rear bumper integrates a black honeycomb grille, aluminum diffuser trim and four tailpipes. An intelligent combination of materials makes the body very torsionally stiff, safe and lightweight. The new S4 Sedan with standard quattro drive weighs just 1,630 kg.

The Audi S4 is priced at R809 000 and comes with a standard with the five year or 100 000 km Audi Freeway Plan and inclusive of all taxes. Launched in November, the Audi S4 is now available at all Audi dealers in South Africa.

In other motoring related news, BMW recently announced its new M3 CS, which is a lighter, more powerful version one of the world’s favourite four-door performance cars.

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