2024 Audi S4 Review: The Sports Sedan That Shall Not Be Perceived

It’s human nature, not to mention a byproduct of capitalism, to want the best when given a choice of options. The 2024 Audi S4 is not the best compact luxury sports sedan; it’s not even the best Audi is able to build, considering the RS4 has been a perennial no-show on our shores for far too long. (The sooner we let the pining for the Avant go, the better.)

But the S4 is special nonetheless because it targets a gray area few cars acknowledge. It’s just luxurious and comfortable enough for daily commutes or long drives; just spirited enough for enjoyable backroad jaunts that won’t leave you wishing you were behind the wheel of something else; and just flashy enough to impress enthusiasts. Actually, scratch that last part—my tester drew about as much attention to itself as anything in Alamo’s lot. But that’s what a real sleeper’s supposed to do, no?

The Basics

The 2024 Audi S4 Prestige tested here is the top trim level offered for the B9 S4, a car that’s been kicking around since 2016 and was refreshed in 2020. In other words, a replacement is likely looming on the horizon. One constant through that span has been the sedan’s 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 delivering 349 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque putting power to all four corners, as is Audi’s tradition, through a ZF eight-speed auto. This Prestige example also added the optional torque-vectoring Sport differential on the rear axle to reduce understeer at the limit.

Nothing about the powertrain feels old, but the same can’t be said for the S4’s exterior. Real talk: When I learned I was reviewing this car, I had an image in my mind’s eye. Sure, I expected something understated, mature, and minimalist. But even for someone who detests the garishness of late-model BMWs, the S4 tones things down too much. Perhaps it was southeast Pennsylvania’s chronically overcast weather this time of year that didn’t cast this gray S4 in the finest light, or frankly any light at all.

There are sleepers, but the S4 is visually comatose. I reckon the black trim of the Prestige actually does more harm than good on an otherwise dark example like this. In fairness to Audi, the S4 normally doesn’t come with the bargain-outlet 10-spoke rims you see here; they were fitted to Bridgestone Blizzaks, as part of a winter wheel-and-tire package.

Fortunately, things are much, much better inside, and I have almost nothing but nice things to say about the S4’s interior. The red stitching on the seats and steering wheel is on account of the Audi Sport appearance package, which also adds the carbon-fiber trim spanning the dashboard. I normally do not like carbon fiber, but I sure like this carbon fiber. It catches reflections in a neat way.

Driving the Audi S4

The S4’s calling card is its range, and I don’t mean between filling up. Need something comfortable, quiet, and easy on the Long Island Expressway? The S4 can do that. It’s also ready to dance when you want that too, crucially without shattering any spines if you splurge on adaptive dampers. 

Now, the Prestige doesn’t come with those dampers by default. They’re part of the S Sport Package, along with the aforementioned rear diff and red brake calipers for $2,500. This S4 also has the $1,500 Dynamic Steering system, which changes the steering ratio based on context. Think heavier at speed, lighter and more direct when parking. It’s a divisive option, and while I can’t say I’ve driven the S4 without it, I did appreciate it. Even at its lightest setting, the steering still feels communicative. Maximal response; low effort—it’s an appealing combination for a car like this. We’ll confront the price part later.

Considering what the S4 is supposed to be (that is to say, not an RS4) there’s sufficient power and grip here, for all but those future owners that already have forum threads about Stage 3 tunes bookmarked in their browsers. The S4 gets to 60 mph from a standstill in 4.4 seconds according to Audi, and although I didn’t bust out a stopwatch myself, I believe that. No notes on the smooth eight-speed ‘box, either. In a week of driving, I had zero compulsion to step in and use the paddles, other than to check if they worked. The shift logic is always on the money, and of course driving modes allow you to make the transmission’s behavior more or less aggressive, in tandem with throttle response, to suit your whim.

Really, my only complaints are minor: the turbo V6 has a bit of a muffled yet high-pitched drone to it I don’t particularly love, and the brake pedal is a little touchy for my liking. Neither is a deal breaker.

The Highs and Lows

The S4 is a very friendly car to live with. The interior is comfortable and, since it’s not Audi’s newest or flashiest, it’s also not lacking at all for physical buttons. Sight lines around the A-pillars are excellent; a favorable driving position really helps the sedan feel smaller and more maneuverable than it actually is, particularly in tight spaces. Lots of modern cars are bunkers, so Audi deserves a little commendation for architecting a vehicle with humans in mind.

All S4s come equipped with massaging front seats, which I was admittedly very enthusiastic to try when I took delivery of the car. If I could go back in time, I’d spare myself the disappointment; there’s definitely something moving back there behind the padding, but it doesn’t really feel deliberate or good. At least the thrones are comfy on their own.

Audi’s MMI interface misses high marks as well, with its busy menus and simple options buried in pages and pages of scrolling. And though this isn’t entirely the automaker’s fault, wireless Apple CarPlay implementation here is buggy, like it is in so many other cars. During one drive, MMI kept connecting and disconnecting from my iPhone cyclically about every 10 seconds, and plugging in the cable didn’t solve things.  

Audi S4 Features, Options, and Competition

The 2024 Audi S4 starts at $55,595, including a $1,095 destination charge. The two higher trims—Premium Plus ($58,595) and Prestige ($62,895)—exclusively add interior comforts. Premium Plus tacks on Audi’s Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster display (the base model has better-looking physical dials), 360-degree cameras, an upgraded Bang & Olufsen sound system, wireless phone charging, and Audi Pre Sense rear collision warning with lane-change assistance.

Meanwhile, the top-line S4 Prestige we have here gains matrix LED headlights, a head-up display, navigation built into MMI, heated rear seats, and yet more LEDs in the cabin. I have to be honest with you—the only feature there I’d truly be sad to lose is the interior lights. They actually look sweet.

But you’ve likely already scoped out the issue: for the upgrades that really make a difference—the adaptive dampers, Sport differential, and Dynamic Steering, if you’re so inclined—you’re dropping another $4,000 all in. Couple that with the Black Optic exterior trim package I consider a snoozefest ($1,000), and the Sport interior treatment of red stitching and carbon dash inlays ($900), and it’s perhaps no surprise how this particular Prestige got all the way up to $69,340. It’s just about the most expensive S4 you can buy.

And if it were my money, I’d pass on almost all of it. A base S4 still has leather seats that can massage you, for crying out loud—even if they’re not very good at it. It’s a nice car, and all it needs to be an exceptional all-weather tourer at that point are those adaptive dampers (which you and your passengers will appreciate for different reasons) and the torque-vectoring diff. There’s your do-it-all sports sedan for a hair over $58K.

At that price, you’re shopping against the Mercedes-AMG C43 at $61,050, BMW M340i at $58,595, and Lexus IS 500 at $60,520—in order of ascending cylinder count, of course. The S4 also straddles the four-cylinder CT4-V at $48K and six-cylinder CT4-V Blackwing at $62K, which notably still offers three pedals.

That’s one of the neat things about this segment: each choice has a unique powertrain that deeply informs its character. The S4 isn’t as tech-forward as the C43 with its four-pot and F1-derived turbo tech, nor as driver-focused as the straight-six M340i. It also can’t rely on the timeless charm of a manual nor V8 to compensate for all its deficiencies. It’s the honest, unassuming value play—the V6 of sports sedans, if you will.

Fuel Economy

The Audi S4 is EPA-rated at 21 mpg city and 29 highway which I found to be slightly conservative. I reached 31 mpg during that long drive down the LIE I mentioned earlier. Mind, that was in comfort mode, with auto stop/start doing its thing on local roads. The S4 is very receptive to efficient driving, which is a good quality for a jack-of-all-trades sedan to have.

Here’s how it stacks up to the rest of the competitive set. Note that officially, the M340i’s numbers don’t change depending on the number of driven wheels.

Value and Verdict

An extremely understated exterior aside, there really isn’t much to not like about the 2024 Audi S4. What it lacks in drama and outright power, it makes up for in daily comfort and thousands saved compared to most of its rivals.

If you prioritize performance on the order sheet, you’ll end up with a reasonably priced luxury sedan I reckon would please any enthusiast on a commute or the occasional weekend blast. All I ask is that you get yours in a color, so I notice it in traffic.

2024 Audi S4 Specs
Base Price (Prestige as tested)$55,595 ($69,340)
Powertrain3.0-liter turbocharged V6 | 8-speed automatic | all-wheel drive
Horsepower349 @ 6,300 rpm
Torque369 lb-ft @ 3,200 rpm
Seating Capacity5
Curb Weight3,847 pounds
Cargo Volume12.0 cubic feet
0-60 mph4.4 seconds
Top Speed155 mph
EPA Fuel Economy21 mpg city | 29 highway | 24 combined
Quick TakeThe true sleeper of modern sports sedans.

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