Frankly, winter just doesn’t seem long enough. I’ve had a few weeks behind the wheels of various Audi products this winter, and each of them have made me wish only for more snow, ice and for people to just get the heck off the roads. This one is the 2015 Audi S4, not Audi’s freshest product, but one that is familiar to use here at, and familiarity has only garnered deeper and greater affection.

What seems like only last year but is in fact almost two years ago, we spent three glorious months behind the wheel of a Monsoon Grey (a colour now replaced by Daytona Grey) S4, but there was one essential element missing from that test: winter.

Long before almost every other luxury manufacturer was trotting out all-wheel drive systems to cater to cold and high altitude markets, Audi was selling sporty all-wheel-drive passenger cars and building the Quattro brand as a leader in all-wheel drive technology and capability. Facing the onslaught of SUVs, all-wheel drive sedans and all-wheel drive performance cars from every corner means Audi’s familiar S4 needs to be very, very good in order to stay ahead of the competition. That part Audi has covered, proving itself against fresh (at the time) competition from Lexus and their new IS 350.

Our purpose this time around with the S4 was to see if it could hold its own against the newfound luxury of the C 450, but it seems a Mercedes customer with actual money trumped our test. However, it would have been an odd couple comparison to say the least, with the luxury-first (and -second and -third) Benz against the sporty, manual-transmission S4 we were provided with by Audi. Our conclusion would have gone something like this: “The Audi is more sporty, the Mercedes is more luxurious.” And so on and so on for about 3,000 words.

Anyhow, this is a car review of the S4, so let’s get into it, starting again with that delightful manual transmission. It was a joy then and it was unadulterated pleasure again, snickety-snicking its way into our hearts and loins. Clutch action is precise and weighty while the shifter notches home like all the parts fit perfectly, with quick, short throws of its artfully sculpted aluminum and leather shifter.

Once in gear, the S4 pilot has access to an undiluted 333 hp at 5,500 rpm and an early wave of 325 lb-ft of torque at 2,900 rpm from a supercharged 3.0L V6, more than a match for its 1,750 kg. This is no lightweight sedan, and for better or worse, it shows. Despite the power, momentum takes a fraction longer to build, mass shifts and pulls at directional changes, and only the extensive mastery of all-wheel drive (slightly rear-biased) combined with a torque-vectoring sport differential neutralize the S4’s natural front-heavy tendencies. But in the end, they do, at least as far as sporty driving on public roads will allow.

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