- Sporty and quick
- Surefooted AWD tuning
- Excellent build quality
- Feels a bit disconnected
- Too-quiet exhaust sound
- Better than the regular A4 AWD model?
Audi S4 Expert Review
- Revised exterior styling
- Updated interior trim
- New infotainment software runs on larger screen
The S4 is a sport-tuned version of Audi's well-known A4 compact luxury sedan. Part of the portfolio of Audi's bestselling sedan model, the current B9-generation S4 made its debut in 2017. As before, a turbocharged engine and Audi's Quattro AWD system are part of the performance equation.
Like the A4, it was majorly updated for 2020, with new exterior styling, interior features, and upgraded infotainment technology.
Long a favorite in the luxury sport compact sedan segment, the revised 2020 Audi S4 seems poised to maintain a trajectory toward enthusiasts' hearts.
In earlier drives of the 2018 S4, we appreciated the turbocharged V-6's remarkably linear power delivery, surefooted AWD system, and general composure and predictability. That all of those dynamic attributes come wrapped in Audi's sharp exterior sheet metal is an added bonus. Interior design and technology are excellent, too; Audi's Virtual Cockpit digital gauge cluster always dazzles.
Even so, some aspects leave us wanting more. Like the A4, it's a bit numb; we prefer more sensory feedback from a sporty car. We'd also welcome a louder exhaust note. The S4 has always been something of a sleeper, but its current iteration might be too much of one.
The S4 also has a problem in that the standard A4 in 2.0T AWD form is just so good. That car might not have the same sporty cachet, but in terms of performance numbers and the experience from behind the wheel, well-equipped A4 models don't leave drivers wanting for much—but they'll have more cash in their bank accounts.
The 2020 Audi S4 is powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine producing 349 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. It routes that output through an eight-speed automatic transmission to a sport-tuned version of Audi's Quattro AWD system. When MotorTrend last tested the S4, it was the slightly more powerful (354 hp) 2018 version, which posted a 4.2-second 0-60 mph acceleration time. Fuel economy is EPA-rated at 20/27 mpg city/highway.
Today, the S4 is the hottest A4 variant, but it wasn't always that way. Audi used to offer the RS 4, which was sharper, wider, and packed a 4.2-liter V-8 ?linked to a six-speed manual transmission. Unfortunately, an RS 4 hasn't been on sale in the United States since 2008. Making matters worse is the fact that Audi still offers the RS 4 in overseas markets—in gorgeous wagon body style, no less. Guess we Americans will have to settle for the RS 5 (coupe and Sportback) and RS 6 (Avant wagon)instead.
Although the 2020 S4 has not been evaluated by the IIHS, the vehicle shares its body structure and many safety systems with the standard A4 that earns top Good scores in all crashworthiness evaluations. The NHTSA gave the 2020 S4 a five-star (out of five) rollover score. The A4 on which it's based gets a five-star overall rating, with another five-star rollover rating, plus a five-star side crash and four-star frontal crash score.
Forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking is the only standard active safety feature shared among all trims. Premium Plus models gain rear and side cross-traffic alerts. Prestige modes add adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and road sign recognition.
The S4's trunk has 12.0 cubic feet of cargo volume, and standard 40/20/40 split folding rear seats allow for storage of larger items.
Front-row headroom measures 37.3 inches, while legroom measures 41.3 inches. Second-row headroom and legroom measure 37.4 and 35.7 inches, respectively.
All 2020 S4 models feature Audi's latest MIB 3 infotainment interface, running on a 10.1-inch touchscreen. Features like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth streaming, and two USB ports in the front row are standard; Premium Plus and Prestige trims include two additional second-row USB ports. The S4 Premium has a 7.0-inch information display in the gauge cluster, but Premium Plus and Prestige get Audi's Virtual Cockpit—a customizable 12.3-inch digital display—in place of conventional analogue gauges. A head-up display, semi-autonomous parking assist, and 360-degree view parking camera system are also included on Prestige models. Prestige trim includes GPS navigation; it's optional on Premium Plus trim. Premium and Premium Plus have a 10-speaker audio system, while a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium system is included on Prestige models.
2020 Audi S4 Premium: The basic S4 trim has 18-inch alloy wheels, a trunklid spoiler, LED headlights and taillights, and classic Audi S details like quad exhaust outlets and satin aluminum side mirror caps. Inside, seating surfaces are trimmed in leather and faux suede with diamond-pattern stitching, the power-adjustable front seats are heated and massaging, the flat-bottom steering wheel has leather wrapping and paddle shifters, and glossy aluminum trim is complemented by ambient lighting. A 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen and 7.0-inch gauge cluster display are also included. Convenience and technology features include two front-row USB ports, push-button engine start, heated windshield washer nozzles, three-zone automatic climate control, and a power sunroof.
2020 Audi S4 Premium Plus: Power-folding and auto-dimming functionality are added to the Premium Plus trim's side mirrors. The interior gets memory settings for the driver's seat, and leatherette trim on the center console lid and door armrests. Technology and convenience are enhanced by a 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit gauge cluster display, two second-row USB ports, keyless entry, and front and rear parking sensors. Rear and side cross-traffic alert is added to driver-assist features.
2020 Audi S4 Prestige: Range-topping Prestige trim adds upgraded LED headlights with a cool animation feature when locking or unlocking the car, headlight washer nozzles, and acoustically laminated dual-pane front side window glass to the exterior. Interior ambient lighting is upgraded with selectable colors. On the tech front, the S4 Prestige adds GPS navigation, a head-up display, a 360-degree view parking camera system, and a 19-speaker premium audio system. Adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, semi-autonomous parking assist, and road sign recognition round out changes to the driver-assist features.