2018 Audi A4 Concept

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A little over a year ago, we traveled to California to sample the new Audi A4. The car’s combination of excellent semi-autonomous driving tech and that Virtual Cockpit really appealed to our inner nerd. But the A4 is meant to sell in volume, a bread-and-butter model never meant to set the heart a-flutter. That job belongs to the S4, a hotter version with an extra hundred horsepower on tap. Together with the closely related S5 coupe, it’s starting to arrive on these shores, which is how we found ourselves among the mountain roads of southern California once again.

The S4 certainly breathes more than the sedan it’s based on. It’s also no track-bred monster; for that, we need to wait for the forthcoming RS4. But it gets a new turbocharged version of the company’s dependable 3.0L V6, which replaces the supercharged V6 that’s found under the hood of many Audis, including the last generation S4. It features a twin-scroll turbo inside the engine’s V (i.e. on top of the engine block between the two banks of cylinders), and Audi tells us that this makes for very short runs for the gases and, therefore, less turbo lag. The new engine is also much more powerful than the outgoing S4’s: 354hp (260kW) and 369lb-ft (500Nm), in fact.

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The engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission made by ZF, and it’s quite similar to the transmission in the RS7. Audi says it picked a torque-converter over a dual-clutch gearbox for the S4, as this engine-gearbox pairing is less jerky at low speeds. Don’t get your hopes up for a manual, though. The stated reason? Far too few buyers worldwide to justify the engineering expense. But the fact is that the ever-growing suite of advanced driver assists doesn’t play well with three pedals. (The implications of that fact for people who enjoy driving bear thinking about, but at a later date.)

As a tire company once said, “power is nothing without control,” and to that end, the S4 has a few other notable tweaks from the base car. It rides 0.9 inches (23mm) lower. Unsprung weight has been reduced in the suspension. As standard, the S4 uses uprated dampers, and adaptive dampers are available with the S Sport package. (These are conventional valved affairs, not magnetorheological.) Tick that box—a $2,500 option—and you also get red brake calipers, but more importantly, you get the sport differential between the rear wheels.

The Audi A4 Allroad Order Guide offers outstanding style and technology both inside and out. See interior & exterior photos. Audi A4 Allroad Order Guide New features complemented by a lower starting price and streamlined packages. The mid-size Audi A4 Allroad Order Guide offers a complete lineup with a wide variety of finishes and features, two conventional engines.

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9 Photos of the 2018 Audi A4 Concept

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