Comparison Test: German Compact Luxury Sedans
First Drive: 2013 Audi A5/S5
Test Drive: 2013 Audi A4
Test Drive: 2012 BMW 335i Luxury
Test Drive: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C 350 4Matic
Test Drive: 2012 Volvo S60 R-Design
2013 Audi S4. Click image to enlarge.
Review and photos by Greg Wilson
2013 Audi S4
Say it’s a glorious weekend and you’re ready for a vigorous drive up to the lake in your Audi S4. Once you’ve settled in the S4’s body-hugging Nappa leather sport driver’s seat, and fired up its 333-hp supercharged 3.0L V6, you can reach down to the centre console MMI controller, dial in Audi’s Drive Select ‘Dynamic’ setting and activate faster throttle response, delayed automatic transmission shifts from its lightning fast seven-speed dual clutch transmission or optional manual paddle shifting, firmer shock control, and quicker, more responsive steering. You’re ready to rock ‘n roll!
Later, when you’re heading to the office in heavy morning traffic and you just want to relax and enjoy the S4’s 500-watt Bang & Olufsen 14-speaker audio system, you just flip the S4’s Drive Select to ‘Comfort’ mode to activate easy steering effort, moderate throttle response, smooth shifts, and a comfortable ride.
Yes, when equipped with Audi Drive Select and Quattro sport differential ($4,000 option), as our test car was, the S4 becomes the car you want it to be with just the twist of a dial. It’s almost like owning two (or three) cars in one: in ‘Comfort’ mode, the S4 has a very light steering feel, reasonably comfortable ride, smooth shifts and moderate throttle response. You could easily be driving an A4 or even a Passat. Take the kids to school, tootle around the mall parking lot, head to the A&W drive-in—it’s all good in your sleepy S4 ‘Comfort-mobile’. But adjust the Audi Drive Select to the ‘Dynamic’ setting using the MMI dial on the centre console, and you’ve got a tiger under your seat with quick throttle response, delayed upshifts, stiff shocks, and quicker, firmer steering response. Just put on your ‘vroom-vroom’ face, leave the kids at home, and head out for some fun.
You can also leave Drive Select in ‘Auto’ mode, which adapts the car’s response to driving conditions and driver input automatically. And if you want to adjust each vehicle system individually, there is an ‘Individual’ setting. For example, you can have ‘Sport’ throttle response and ‘Comfort’ suspension.