2013 Audi S4
2013 Audi S4. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

Odometer at pick-up: 2,368 km
Odometer: 6,722 km (4,354 km by Autos.ca)
Observed Fuel Consumption: 11.5 L/100 km
Costs: $708.95 (Gas)

In our last update, we signed off mentioning a short road trip we had planned, but the S4 was even busier than expected in its final weeks with Autos.ca.

That road trip turned out to be a different sort of test than was expected. First of all, we left the kids at home for the weekend since it was an adults-only wedding we were attending, so cargo space wasn’t challenged even as much as a short trip to the mall with the kids. Additionally, my plan to tour some of the Muskoka region’s fine driving roads turned into a suspension test of the highest order.

2013 Audi S42013 Audi S42013 Audi S42013 Audi S4
2013 Audi S4. Click image to enlarge

We chose to stay at the Port Cunnington Lodge, not just for its idyllic and near perfect representation of the Muskoka style cottages and docks and beautiful view overlooking the Lake of Bays. On a previous launch event (Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, if you must know), the road leading to the Lodge was the highlight scenic road to enjoy that vehicle’s newfound driving dynamics. Well, that was in 2012. In 2013, that same road is a gravel road, perhaps in preparation for repaving, or perhaps just a regression and attempt to save money. No matter the reason, the twisting driver’s road I remembered turned out to be a rather brutal length of washboard ruts, loose surface and harsh ride.

Did the S4 soak it up like a luxury car? Um, no. Here the S4 revealed its sports car leanings, and pounded us into slow, creeping speeds. However, despite the severe ride, I was impressed by the chassis’ solidity, with little flex or stress, and the suspension doing its utmost but ultimately being pushed beyond its limits to cope. The firm ride is in no way intolerable on paved roads, managing rough impacts with a polite thud and complete control – just the way I like it. But for gravel roads like this, the rally-bred long suspension travel of the Subaru WRX or STI is king, at almost any price point. But for showing up at the club for a wedding or just plain travelling in style (or driver engagement), I’ll stick with the S4.

2013 Audi S4
2013 Audi S4. Click image to enlarge

Amongst its more natural competitors, the S4 proved itself against the familiar rivals as well as the latest effort from Lexus, in which we found the S4’s quality of materials, power, handling and reserved, classic good looks inside and out superior to the upstart IS 350’s aggressive styling and more comfortable ride that still delivered precise handling. The S4’s interior in particular drew rave reviews for its “high-tech sportiness,” as per Michael Bettencourt. Jacob Black, in addition to his love of the steering wheel, had this to say about the S4 interior: “Luxury car interiors need to make you feel welcome. Your car should say, ‘Hey, how you doing? I’m pretty damn awesome. Come, sit here. Then you’ll be awesome too.’

Oh, and the S4’s manual transmission and steering wheel won over anyone who came in contact with these sublime pieces, both works of art in their design, and rewarding in their interaction. The Audi’s steering is light, but always feels crisp and I found it relays information from the front wheels as well as anything in the class.

Meanwhile, the manual transmission is a gem. The clutch is light enough that it is never tiring and the gears are tightly packed but the gates evenly spread so I never missed a shift. Slotting each gear change home was its own reward, the gates perfectly spaced for the shifter, a touch of resistance along the way reinforcing the mechanical nature of the beast.

2013 Audi S42013 Audi S4
2013 Audi S4. Click image to enlarge

The heart of this dignified beast is the supercharged 3.0L V6. 333 hp. 325 lb-ft of torque. At 1,785 kg (3,935 lb), much of that power is necessary to move this heavy car, but the torque comes on low (2,900 rpm) to get you rolling and peak horsepower is in play at up to 6,500 rpm, meaning it doesn’t seem to fall off just as you’re about to shift. Michael Bettencourt added: “Power delivery is more refined than beastly at anything less than full redline romps – it’s a remarkably smooth engine, even when driving aggressively.” While I’m not alone in missing the brilliance of Audi’s 4.2L V8, saving it for RS applications and larger cars seems like a fair use of that engine.

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