Three decades of S4
A performance favourite turns 30.
Through 30 years of evolution, the Audi S4 has cemented its reputation as the perfect blend of luxury and performance.
23 August, 2021
The original S4 dispatched the sprint to 100km/h in 6.2 seconds on the way to a top speed of 244km/h
A performance staple in the Audi range, the S4 was a hit from its very first appearance in August 1991. The successor to the Audi 200 quattro 20V, it was originally available only as a Sedan, but Avant customers wanting this high level of performance had only to wait a matter of months before a performance wagon also became available.
Powered by the same four-valve, 2.2 litre, five-cylinder petrol engine used in the Audi quattro and the S2 Coupé, the S4 received an additional 7.5kW of power for a total of just over 170kW of power to the crankshaft.
Mated to a five-speed manual transmission, the S4 with quattro permanent all-wheel drive – standard equipment on all S models – dispatched the sprint to 100km/h in 6.2 seconds on the way to a top speed of 244km/h. At the time, these figures were unheard of in a Sedan or Avant, and put the S4 squarely at the top of the list of the world’s fastest saloon cars.
This combination of sports car performance in a Sedan or Avant that lacked nothing in terms of appointment and practicality struck an immediate chord with customers all over the world and the S4 was an instant success.
This first iteration of the S4 continued until 1994, by which time Audi had manufactured 9286 Sedans and 4654 Avant versions of the five-cylinder model of the Audi S4. Since then the S4 as both a Sedan and Avant has gone through numerous iterations, being offered with a 2.7-litre V6 bi-turbo in its second generation that further honed the blade and gave the car a 0 to 100km/h from standstill in 5.6 seconds – and this was in 1997.
Cabriolet variants were introduced from the early 2000s as was a 4.2-litre V8 that brought the sprint time down to five seconds flat.
With the arrival of the B8 version of the S4 in 2009 though, more changes were afoot, with a new chassis and design and the 4.2-litre was replaced with a V6 powerplant once again – this time a 3.0-litre version that was in fact faster than the V8 in replaced.
The current Audi S4 models retain the high-performance V6 engine in its latest iteration – a fire-breathing 3.0-litre turbocharged powerplant that produces 260kW of power and 600Nm of torque from 1370rpm.
Since the very beginning, the S4 models have been characterised not only by their tremendous performance but by their subtle styling and dual personality. The S4 has, like the other members of the S family of vehicles, always been a quiet achiever. The design cues are there for those who know where to look. The quad exhausts, the aluminium look wing mirror coverings and a red brake callipers.
The presence has always been something of a give-away and the badging, so subtle you could almost miss it. But the appeal of the S4 since day one has always been the balance of luxury daily conveyance with a heart of true performance. Three decades later the Audi S4 remains the elite athlete in the business suit.
Since the very beginning, the S4 models have been characterised not only by their tremendous performance but by their subtle styling and dual personality
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