What's New for 2000
The Audi S4 is a new sport sedan based off the excellent A4 platform introduced in 1996. Highlights include a turbocharged 250-horsepower engine, all-wheel drive and improved handling and braking.
The new Audi S4 is the most promising sport sedan for 2000. Although not cheap by any means (base model pricing starts at $37,900), it does offer a mouth-watering array of features and improvements over the regular A4 Sedan that it is modeled after.
Starting things out is a 2.7-liter twin-turbo V6 engine. Sporting twin intercoolers, dual-overhead cams, five valves per cylinder, variable valve timing for the intake camshafts, and optimized combustion chambers, the engine generates 250 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque. Audi has designed the engine to provide much of its power low in the revband. Consequently, the S4 makes quick work of freeway on-ramps and passing maneuvers. Audi gives buyers of the S4 a choice of transmissions; there's a six-speed manual transmission or a five-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission.
All S4s come with Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system, which constantly monitors the grip of the tires. When one of them starts to lose traction, the quattro system automatically applies power to the tires with the most adhesion to the road surface. Audi says this latest edition of the quattro all-wheel-drive system is capable enough to allow the car to get underway with only one wheel having reasonable traction.
The suspension and braking components have also been improved. Major items of note are bigger and stronger brakes, revised aluminum suspension pieces, performance-tuned shocks and springs, and unique 17-inch wheels with 225/45R17 tires.
The interior retains the same architecture found in the A4, which means an attractive design and a decent number of features. Special leather upholstery covers standard power seats, and contrasting color suede inserts can be had when ordering the sport interior package. Other options to consider include a sunroof, heated front seats, a six-disc CD changer, and a Bose premium audio system. For safety, there are standard front and head-curtain airbags.
Outside, the S4 differs from regular A4s (not that the A4 is exactly regular, of course) by having the aforementioned 17-inch wheels, larger front air-intake openings, and S4 badging. Two special colors--Imola Yellow and Nogaro Blue--are available only on the S4.
The S4 driving experience is a pleasure. But what could be considered either a positive or negative, depending on what you want from a sport sedan is the S4's suspension, which is softer than a '99 BMW M3. Its forgiving nature comes at the expense of pure handling excellence. Taken as a whole, however, we think the 2000 Audi S4 has no equal in the sport-sedan market.