2022 Audi S4
Save the Best for 4th
The S4 retains the refinement and comfort that mature drivers appreciate in the A4, but doesn’t push into the danger zone that the RS4 is designed to thrive in.
By Glenn Oyoung
Tue, Feb 28, 2023 06:50 AM PST
All images by review author Glenn Oyoung
As the title suggests, this is my fourth Audi review and fittingly it is of the latest incarnation of my dream car – the Audi S4. If you had visited me in my dorm room in the late 90s you would have seen taped on the wall an ad featuring a silver S4 that was right above my computer – encouraging me to turn off Mechwarrior and study. What an absolute delight to get the keys to a fully loaded, Turbo Blue S4 for a week. The planets aligned, the clouds parted, and I finally got a chance to taste what the S4 life was like.
Exterior - Lean Mean Turbo Blue Machine
My time with the S4 coincided with our monthly car meet, Carcadia at Route 66 – billed as San Gabriel Valley’s most eclectic car show – and the S4 was a hit with the crowd. Turbo Blue is an arresting color. Sure you can go with white, gray, or black – but why not live (and peacock) a little? Like moths to a turbocharged flame, Carcadians were drawn to the S4 and happy to take me up on my offer to sit inside and check out the cockpit.
Like the A3 vs. the S3, the exterior differences between the already handsome A4 vs. S4 are subtle – but impactful. It’s interesting how the change to the honeycomb grille and the lower front fascia turn the business-like A4 into the businessman with a jiu jitsu black belt S4. Perhaps for that reason one of my favorite angles on the S4 is dead-on.
Our tester came with the S sport package ($2,500) which includes sport adaptive suspension, rear differential, and red brake calipers. The Black optic package ($1,400) comes with more aesthetic indicators of your sporting intent in the way of blacked out trim, black mirror housings, and 19” split-five wheels.
Non-gearheads may not be able to tell the difference between an A4 or an S4. That’s actually part of the appeal of Audi’s current design language to me. The S4 strikes an ideal balance between aggressive and refined, standing out at the local cars and coffee while not screaming for attention at the company off-site.
In typical Audi fashion, the S4’s interior is clean and classy. Our tester had the advantage of coming equipped with the Prestige package, which adds a hefty $8,300 to the $51,900 base price. The good news is that includes some very choice upgrades including the Bang and Olufsen® sound system, top view camera system (I’m finding this a must nowadays), heads-up display and a whole host of other comfort and safety features.
One component worth mentioning is the Audi virtual cockpit – Audi’s parlance for a digital dash. Earlier digital dashes were clunky or not worth the effort, the tech has come a long way and the S4’s 12.3” dash is huge. It was definitely a plus to be able to keep the eyes forward between the HUD and the virtual dash, particularly as I navigated my way through lesser-traveled parts of the Southland.
The diamond stitched quilted leather seats with the embossed S badging look fantastic and offer plenty of support during spirited driving. The massage feature is not as strong as the seats in the A6 Allroad I recently tested, but I think the S4 driver is a little less concerned with massages and more focused on hitting apexes.
Does the upgrade from a A4 (model year 2023 starting at approximately $40,300) to an S4 (MY23 starting at $52,800) make sense? Here’s the key stats for you to review:
0-60 in 5.2 seconds
0-60 in 4.4 seconds
At the end of the day, assuming neither price point changes your lifestyle - the decision is really based on how much you love to drive. .8 seconds faster from 0-60 doesn’t sound like a lot, but to me the S4 is an entirely different car performance-wise from the A4.
An S4 is 911-adjacent in the fun category. Thanks to its 3.0 turbocharged V6 it accelerates like a cruise missile and sounds angry (not quite AMG-level sounds, but the bark is pretty mean nonetheless.) The S sport package’s aforementioned adaptive sport suspension gives you plenty of options across the comfort-performance continuum, and the S4 inspired confidence in corners – a key requirement for a sport sedan.
Alas, every loaner must be returned. As hard as the S3 was to part with, the S4 was so much harder to say goodbye to (queue Boyz II Men soundtrack). What will I miss most? The ability to switch from ultra-comfortable cruising to wannabe F1 driver in a heartbeat.
Audi continues to demonstrate that it understands its customer segments well by offering literally something for everyone in the luxury market. The S4 retains the refinement and comfort that mature drivers appreciate in the A4, but doesn’t push into the danger zone that the RS4 is designed to thrive in. In an era where SUVs and CUVs continue to dominate in terms of market share, it’s nice to know the good old-fashioned ICE category still has apex predators (see what I did there) like the S4 available for those of us who love carving up corners.
About The Author
Glenn Oyoung is a marketer based in Los Angeles. Glenn’s lifelong passion for cars is rooted in playing with Hot Wheels, and has continued into 1:1 scale. He’s the former marketing director of American Racing, author of ‘vehicular alphabet books’ “C is for Car” and "P is for Petersen" in collaboration with the Petersen Automotive Museum. His passion for cars extends to his role as the founder of the monthly car meet Carcadia at Route 66, the most diverse car meet in the San Gabriel Valley.