About the Car2012 S4 on Edmunds. Mine is a Premium Plus with a handful of options: MMI+ with Navigation, B&O Sound System, Sports Diff, and Audi Drive Select. It is equipped with the 7-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch transmission. It is Misano Red (a non-standard MY color, very similar to Brilliant Red) with Black Leather/Lunar Silver alcantara interior.
The Options, Notables, and Creature ComfortsSo, the car is a 2012 Premium Plus, with a few select (and important) options. I do miss some creature comforts that I've previously had, such as adaptive headlights and keyless entry/start. On the walk up to the car, these are minor irks, but from the moment the gauges sweep and the engine comes to life, I forget all about the fact that I had to use the keyfob to unlock the car.
Initially, I was looking at 2013 S4's. Quite a few of the facelift updates were attractive to me - the new grille and front bumper, headlights (specifically the DRLs), new MMI interface, and flat-bottom steering wheel all were important at one point. However, for the price I paid for it, I really don't miss them (the difference would have been around $8,000).
A big surprise when I drove off the lot was the lack of Bluetooth audio streaming in the MMI+, despite having BT phone connectivity. This seems to have become standard as part of the 2013 refresh of the MMI. This was very disappointing, and combined with the slightly dated look of the MMI system, I was considering retrofitting a 2013 MMI+ system. These plans were quickly squashed when I saw the $5,000 estimated cost of a retrofit. I came across a Bluetooth adapter that works with the iPod AMI cable to handle BT audio streaming, and that really scratched the itch. BT streaming works very well now - great quality and great experience.
The Nav system is nice, voice control is marginally useful, and the trim and finish of the interior is beautiful. MMI+ is useful, but it definitely takes some time to get used to. Unfamiliar passengers have no idea how to use it, despite its instinctive feel after only one week.
I love the color of the car. The Misano Red pops, and the black/lunar silver interior is sharp. The alcantara/leather seats (coupled with very supportive side bolsters) hold you in place but are comfortable enough. The look and feel of the car give it a good amount of flair, something I think Audis of old lacked.
The DriveAudi Drive Select and the Sports Diff make this car. It's hard to overstate this. The varying characteristics of the car sold me on the move from a coupe to sedan, and the ability to switch between more comfortable or more engaged driving modes made me happy to leave behind the sporty coupe.
On a calm and quiet run (in Comfort), it's not the most comfortable car - bumps are still translated through the chassis to the seats - but it feels solid and refined when it does go over imperfect roads. Put the car into Dynamic mode and my favorite mountain roads are just as fun as always. My only gripe on this note would be the active steering. Nine times out of ten I know how firm/soft the steering will be, but every one in a while I'm caught off guard by it. I wish there was a setting for "always firm," but it's really not a major gripe.
The Sports Diff is hard to describe. I never test drove an S4 without it, so I can't compare it to models without, but it is something that is absolutely noticeable in spirited driving. This car just joyously pivots through turns. It's a sensation that you immediately notice - the rear of the car just pulls itself to the outside of the turn and you feel like you're in a tiny RWD coupe. It's an amazing sensation.
Road Feel Compared to 2008 BMW 328xiCompared to the 2008 328xi 6MT coupe I traded in, there are a couple of key differences. Adjusting from a manual to a DCT with paddle shifters takes a little getting used to, but it does not hamper the fun of the car. In fact, there's a wonderful snarl in aggressive upshifts when moving from 1st through 4th that 6MT S4's do not make. It's also very, very smooth, so I'm no longer the world's angriest man in stop-and-go traffic. It's definitely larger, and it feels that way. There's a noticeable heft to the car, but it compensates with surprisingly agile handling and effortless ability to accelerate. Going from a coupe to sedan, I gained two usable back seats. There's enough room back there for 2 good sized adults. The 3 coupe had a respectable amount of room for a coupe, but this has a respectable amount of room for a small sedan, which is a big difference.
Engine and Power Compared to 2006 BMW M RoadsterI'd like to compare the engine to the S54 in my other car, an '06 BMW M Roadster. They both drop 330/333HP (the S4 @ 5500 RPM and the M @ 7900 RPM), but the torque peaks vary by about 60 ft-lbs - 325 ft-lb @ 2900 in the S4, and 262 ft-lb @ 4900 in the M. To compare the two is hard, since they're wildly different cars, but there's one difference I can draw. The M comes to life, singing its song at the high-end of each gear. The S4 delivers a ceaseless surge of power from the moment you pass 2,000 RPM. It's an entirely different sensation. If I had to compare the two engines, I'd say the M invokes excitement whereas the S4 invokes awe. This is just based on the engine - comparing an AWD sedan to a RWD roadster is otherwise a very difficult job.
Four or Two Doors? Compared to Crashspeeder's 2014 Audi S5So, these cars are very similar, but there are some noticeable differences. I'm going to try and look past some of the differences between pre- and post-facelift and compare just the coupe to sedan.
First and foremost is the cabin. There is one win and one loss in each of our scorebooks as far as I'm concerned. The S5 feels like it's a cockpit. You feel a little lower, and little more enclosed, and in effect more connected to the car. It feels a little more special, and fun, in this respect. However, the back seats just did not work for me. The beautiful sloping rear of the S5 takes away a lot of the rear headroom. While Crashspeeder is happy as a clam sitting in the backseat, I could not fit comfortably.
As far as driving goes, I drove both back to back, and the same sentiment from above applies. The ride feels just a hair more special in the S5, despite sharing largely the same platform. While in my drives, they both felt more or less equally competent on the twisty roads of NE PA (with the S5 a hair moreso), there is something to be said for both, and here's my sentiment boils down to when comparing the two: the S5 impresses me because of its sporty feel, and the S4 impresses me because of how very close it comes to the sporty feel of its two-door sister.