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Now THIS option would be sweet on an S4

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Now THIS option would be sweet on an S4

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Old 08-08-2018, 05:45 AM
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Default Now THIS option would be sweet on an S4

Several weeks ago, I called my sales rep at my dealer (since 1977) and asked him if he had any SQ5s with the air suspension option. If you’re not aware, Audi bundles the air-suspension, torque-vectoring (sport) differential, and red brake calipers in one $3,000 package.

When we bought our 2018 SQ5 our rep had suggested – considering our 22,000+ miles driven per year – that we just go ahead with the steel suspension. We were also aware of some test reports that suggested the steel suspension was, overall, the appropriate choice. The issue regarding our high mileage seemed to be related to the historical durability of the suspension. Moreover, our rep told us – substantiated by the service department – that when the suspension components on the front failed that both the left and right front components would require replacement (at a parts cost of some $3,000+). We drove the SQ5 with the steel suspension and it was an improvement over the 2014 SQ5 that we were trading in. We ordered a 2018 SQ5 Prestige.

Currently, at over 26,000 miles on the SQ5, we’re still loving the vehicle, but when the rep called and offered my wife the opportunity to take an air-suspension equipped car home for a day or two, she jumped at the chance.

Our “pre-flight” check included the rep showing us the differences between my wife’s MMI screen options and the air-suspension and sport-differential equipped car. Further, the rep gave us his impressions of the various settings for the sport-diff. His recommendation was to set the differential to dynamic, “so that you will be able to notice it during typical driving.” He explained that the differential – when set to dynamic – will provide “sharper turn-in” but that other settings are virtually imperceptible. He commented that the lower profile 21” wheels and tires provide improvements in understeer, too, and that only when really pushed is the sport-diff’s contribution noticeable, hence “keep it in dynamic” and see if you aren’t impressed that the car requires less steering wheel lock to negotiate a curve than your current car (her SQ5 has the 20” wheels, no sport-diff and is shod with Pilot Sport A/S 3+ tires.)

So we have the sport-diff at dynamic. My wife says she barely noticed any less steering wheel lock.

Onto the air-suspension settings. First off, we set the suspension to “off-road” and watched the cars butt lift followed by the front-end lift. We measured the suspension’s “gap” at comfort and dynamic compared to the steel suspension equipped version. The “finger” test demonstrated that the steel suspension version had a gap of 5+ fingers, compared to the air-suspension equipped that when set to dynamic was but 2 fingers. The comfort setting raised the air-suspension to 3+ fingers. The differences were very noticeable visually.

My wife pulled out of the lot with the sport-diff and the air-suspension set to dynamic. She drove through the subdivision where the dealer is located en route to the Interstate, then after almost ten-miles on the Interstate, exited to drive on some twisty roads as we headed toward our sub-division.

She loved the suspension, didn’t really notice the sport-differential (and she tried), and decided the 21” wheels in SW Ohio would be destroyed before the first oil change, their sidewalls were so narrow.

Despite her current car being only 14-months old, she said “I want one equipped with the air suspension and the 20” wheels/tires, configure it and we’ll see if the numbers work.” We would be, of course, configuring a 2019.

The red calipers, I think (more than ever), should be unbundled from the air-suspension as should the sport-diff. The thing is, if a real “sport” offering (as an option) is desired, the combination of features that make sense might be the 21” wheels/tires, air-suspension, and sport-diff. The brake calipers provide only an aesthetic change and at their former price of $400 (stand-alone) would allow customers to choose it much as they choose the $575 paint color option.

Overall, the air suspension is a big hit, the 21” wheels/tires a minus (and the tires are louder and you feel every “pre-pot-hole” with a not-too-distant BANG!), the sport-diff a “why not” and the brake calipers, too, a big hit. She wants one configured in silver metallic, red leather upgraded seats, Prestige, 20” wheels, and cold-weather package. Of course, the mandatory Audi Beam Rings would be included, too as would Audi Care.

My guess is the depreciation of the 2018 – especially considering 26,000 miles – would make any deal on this new SQ5 less attractive than it might be in 12 to 18 months from now as the rate of depreciation becomes less steep with the passage of time.

In any case, the S4 needs the air-suspension option, the “adjustable shocks” just don’t even come close.

However, in some potential good news, my rep who just returned from Ingolstadt where he went through training on the new Audi products, said he believes the type of suspension option that is available in the RS5 (where the differences between Comfort, Auto and Dynamic are HUGE) will soon be offered in the B class as it is already heading to the Q3, RSQ3 along with the upgraded electronics (as seen in the new A8, A7, and A6). After driving the RS5 with the Dynamic Package, I’ve concluded the S4 NEEDS that option in lieu of the current “modest” damper control contained in the S4’s optional sport package.

Why not put the air-suspension in the S4 is my question? Why not unbundle the sport package, also my question? On that point, however, it is my understanding I’m just a screaming voice in the wilderness.

The new A6 and Q8 look to – according to my rep – make everything else look and feel old, dated, and well, lame.

Can’t wait!



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Old 08-08-2018, 05:49 AM
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Sure would be sweet - but didn't you say in a different post that your dealer advised you against the air suspension on your SQ5 because of reliability issues? I have it on my A6 and sure as hell would not get it again because of reliability concerns.
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Old 08-08-2018, 06:22 AM
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Originally Posted by markcincinnati View Post
In any case, the S4 needs the air-suspension option, the “adjustable shocks” just don’t even come close.
...
After driving the RS5 with the Dynamic Package, I’ve concluded the S4 NEEDS that option in lieu of the current “modest” damper control contained in the S4’s optional sport package.
Mark, may I ask you a direct question- have you ever, personally, tried the adjustable (non-air) suspension currently available on the 2018 S4?

I ask because I have seen at least 5 posts from you dissing it or downplaying its value, including this one, and I've seen you recount your personal experience with similar systems in the current RS5 or a previous S4, but to date I have not seen a single post confirming you have actually driven this option for yourself in this application, on the Two Thousand Eighteen Audi Ess Four. Would you be so kind as to confirm that for us, once and for all?

You are certainly entitled to your opinions about the value/worth/efficacy of various options available for the cars we all share passion for, but I guess I am at this point just curious if you've ever even bothered to taste this specific dish that you continue to send back. My apologies if I have overlooked a post where you've addressed this question.

Originally Posted by markcincinnati View Post
Why not put the air-suspension in the S4 is my question?
I believe it's a space issue as much as anything anything. The S4 is a small car. Where would the hardware for it go? The air bladders, the compressor, etc. Typically you see this stuff loaded into the trunk on cars equipped with such options, but on the S4 there is almost nowhere to jam it--especially in the sedan which is all we get here in the US (and that's another sad conversation for another sad thread).

Imagine the consequences -- financially, practically for consumers, etc -- if Audi had to redesign the A4 sedan trunk just for S4 to accommodate an optionalair suspension. Rhetorical question: the answer is you will find air suspension on A6 and larger, and on Q cars. It was an option on the previous allroad too.

Now, you could redesign the "B10" to accommodate this hardware at design inception, but nobody as a $3000 option, nobody will spec it on the base of the pyramid for that model line (A4) and it will affect cost throughout the model line, which is bad for the brand. Consumers don't expect that option at the $40,000 price point. They'd rather have heated and cooled seats.
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Old 08-08-2018, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by stanj View Post
Sure would be sweet - but didn't you say in a different post that your dealer advised you against the air suspension on your SQ5 because of reliability issues? I have it on my A6 and sure as hell would not get it again because of reliability concerns.
Yes, I did (tell you that the rep advised against the air-suspension due to durability issues OUT OF THE WARRANTY period AND the cost of a failure $3,000+ just for one axle's PARTS (no labor).

He did NOT change his comment regarding the durability issue -- he CAUTIONED that both the sport-diff and the air-suspension are mechanical devices that wear and when you pass 50,000 miles are BREATHTAKINGLY expensive to repair/replace. However, there is the potential to warrant the thing via a CPO like option/fee at, say 49,000 miles and that the dealer would help with this process if we ate the paperwork and CPO fees. So, the durability issue (not the reliability issue) is the concern. The thing works until it doesn't apparently.
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Old 08-08-2018, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by mplsbrian View Post
Mark, may I ask you a direct question- have you ever, personally, tried the adjustable (non-air) suspension currently available on the 2018 S4?

I ask because I have seen at least 5 posts from you dissing it or downplaying its value, including this one, and I've seen you recount your personal experience with similar systems in the current RS5 or a previous S4, but to date I have not seen a single post confirming you have actually driven this option for yourself in this application, on the Two Thousand Eighteen Audi Ess Four. Would you be so kind as to confirm that for us, once and for all?

You are certainly entitled to your opinions about the value/worth/efficacy of various options available for the cars we all share passion for, but I guess I am at this point just curious if you've ever even bothered to taste this specific dish that you continue to send back. My apologies if I have overlooked a post where you've addressed this question.



I believe it's a space issue as much as anything anything. The S4 is a small car. Where would the hardware for it go? The air bladders, the compressor, etc. Typically you see this stuff loaded into the trunk on cars equipped with such options, but on the S4 there is almost nowhere to jam it--especially in the sedan which is all we get here in the US (and that's another sad conversation for another sad thread).

Imagine the consequences -- financially, practically for consumers, etc -- if Audi had to redesign the A4 sedan trunk just for S4 to accommodate an optionalair suspension. Rhetorical question: the answer is you will find air suspension on A6 and larger, and on Q cars. It was an option on the previous allroad too.

Now, you could redesign the "B10" to accommodate this hardware at design inception, but nobody as a $3000 option, nobody will spec it on the base of the pyramid for that model line (A4) and it will affect cost throughout the model line, which is bad for the brand. Consumers don't expect that option at the $40,000 price point. They'd rather have heated and cooled seats.
I ordered two 2018 S4 Prestige cars identical save but for the "sport package." I ordered them on the same day and they came in within 4 or 5 days of each other.

Meantime, whilst awaiting the arrival, I did test an S5 with the sport-diff (and found some possibility for improved turn-in under real world but very unlikely circumstances).

When the two cars came in, I tested both. I had previously had an A4 with ADS which came with the "fake" magnaride struts, for comparison.

I found such "imperceptible" differences -- and I was disappointed -- between Comfort, Auto, and Dynamic, I actually asked the rep "is this thing on?" I was hoping that the PDI perhaps had not been done and that they had to be "turned on". I had also driven (and liked) the S3 with the magnetic shocks and I could discern -- easily -- the settings, especially when in dynamic mode. The S4 calibration or implementation is "virtually" imperceptible was the conclusion I came away with after driving "my" new 2018 S4 thusly equipped. Frankly, I had the same issue with the sport-diff IN REASONABLE EVERY DAY DRIVING (and when I was alone in the car, since the only way I could really get the diff to add value for me was to press the car into corners at vomit-inducing speeds and, more importantly, g-forces for my passenger, who happened to be my wife, and you can be assured she let me know how THAT behaviour was unacceptable.)

Then, I took the RS5 with the dynamic package for a long test-drive. I could tell the difference between comfort, auto, and dynamic. My preference would be auto. Dynamic was the real deal, but on washboard roads -- remember I live in SW Ohio -- I could put a can of paint on my lap and mix it, the ride ride was so choppy.

The air-suspension settings on the SQ5 are also easily discernable, at least between Comfort and Dynamic -- it is a bit harder to tell after such a short test drive (for me, my wife has had it for many more miles already) if Auto would be as easily recognizable as that same setting was on the RS5. I am a "psychological fan" -- at $1,100 -- of the sport-diff just because I know of its potential, even though as a practical matter I would seldom actually remark "I really felt the TV diff doing its thing." The brake based torque management is more than sufficient, but unbundled, I'd go for it. I might go for it bundled, but not with the current adaptive suspension offered on the S4.

I've just rolled over 16,000 miles on my S4. I love it. I'm not in the market. My wife, truth be told, will probably not be in the market once she finds out how much she would lose (in equity and down payment) to spring for a new SQ5 with the addition of a $3,000 air-suspension that would almost certainly require an extended warranty for peace of mind.

A potential benefit of the TV diff OUGHT to be its low-speed impact when the car is driven on snow and ice. Since the merits of the overdriven outer wheel are the reduction of understeer, one could imagine that the TV diff COULD lessen the understeer that can occur on very slick surfaces at lower speeds. That, too, makes the TV diff at least partially logical along with the psychological benefits I've described.

I have suggested that my wife wait at least another year, probably two before making a "move" decision -- but she seems smitten with the air-suspension at least sufficiently to consider it at this time.

==
On the space issue, I had a 2003 allroad -- which was based on an A6 which at the time was shorter both overall and with a shorter wheelbase than my current S4. The allroad had what certainly seems to be a very similar air suspension as does the newest SQ5. Space should not be a consideration, but I could be wrong. isn't the current Q5 a B9 generation with the same wheelbase as the A4? I think so, not 100% positive -- but the Q5 and hence the SQ5 is a CUV based on the A4 S4.

On the "RS5 similar" comment -- the calibration or whatever it is (different) between the S4 and the RS5 are NIGHT and DAY different. The new RS5 has the suspension I would want and would pay for. And, if you like your S4's (B9) adjustable suspension, remember, I always say that "I'm OFTEN wrong but NEVER uncertain."

I'll be here all week, tip your servers.

Last edited by markcincinnati; 08-08-2018 at 07:54 AM.
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Old 08-08-2018, 07:50 AM
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One more issue:

I also agree that offering the air-suspension on the S4 at the B9 release would be a financial nightmare. But, regarding cost -- the $3,000 cost on the SQ5 is for the bundle: Red calipers, TV differential, and air suspension. The calipers WERE $400 and the TV-diff stand alone WAS $1,100 (on the B8s), meaning the air-suspension including profit must be about $1,500 were it offered by itself. I think on the S4's there would be enough takers IF the RS5's suspension were kept unique to the RS line. However, if the RS's dynamic adaptive suspension was made available, I would probably just go with that and pass on the air-suspension; my wife might feel differently because she would like the "benefit" of the ride height adjustment the air suspension affords. I have no interest in that in an S4.

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Old 08-08-2018, 08:27 AM
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@Mark-

1. thanks for confirming. If you tried shocks and didn't like them, that is fine by me. I just wanted to make sure you have actually tried them. I personally notice the 3 mode differences easily and switch between them often. While I haven't driven an RS model; if you (Mark) are a person who can't notice the differences between S modes but can between RS modes, I can only imagine how much more severe those RS modes would seem to me. Makes me yearn even more for an RS4 here in America.

2. Re: space for an air suspension, it's not just about wheelbase, it's about "in what specific nook are we crazy German engineers going to put the compressor for example" -- which if you aren't aware, is the size of a damn toaster. You can get a sense for its heft in the video here. Typically these are found on the bottom of the car, near the spare tire well underneath a plate... that's where it was in the old Allroad anyway. But go ahead and take a look underneath your 2018 S4 and tell me where you'd put it...there's little room to stuff this kind of thing. Don't tell me you'd give up your spare tire in favor of runflats...because no no no no no no no NO to that.

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Old 08-08-2018, 08:34 AM
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No runflats need apply. We had a BMW with them -- yuk (or yech.)

It's not so much that I didn't LIKE it on the B9 S4, it was that I could barely tell the difference.

Agree on the RS4.

Try the RS5 if you have a relationship with a dealer. They may be less inclined to let you do that otherwise.

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Old 08-08-2018, 08:35 AM
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How someone can say there isn't a significant difference in an S vs non S Sport package in an S4 is beyond me, unless your day to day driving is simply too and fro, and driving the car like any other car. Similarly, the differences between the S Sport on an SQ5 and the standard suspension are night and day too. I found the standard suspension to quite bobbleheaded vs the S Sport in that vehicle.

I've had my own anecdotal experience with the air suspension on an Audi (04 S8). 157k from new, and it (along with everything else on that car) worked flawlessly. Based on that alone, I'd buy it again on a car in a heartbeat.

Before getting mine, I spent time with both setups....having owned both sport diff and non sport diff S models in the past. Afterall, if it isn't worth spending money on, even with my employee price (+ incentives), a waste of money is still a waste of money. It was absolutely not a waste of money, and not a day goes by that I regret it. The difference in how the levels of car perform when driving even moderately hard, is significant, to me at least. Turn in is not only improved, but entry and exit speed is vastly different. I am blessed to live in an area with tons of mountain roads, and the sport diff makes them that much more enjoyable. And fwiw, I am speaking from the vantage point of wishing it didn't mean red calipers, as to this day, I still don't like how they look. But, the uptick in enjoyment from the hard parts makes up for the stuff I can only see when approaching the car to drive

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Old 08-08-2018, 09:47 AM
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I think the lesson here is that everyone drives different. Everyone's definition of "fast" or "spirited" is different.

Some people will go to a track day and turn a 65 second lap time and brag at lunch about it. An instructor borrows the exact same car, slaps it in Comfort Mode just to prove a point, and turns a lap in 45 and when he hops out, he looks you in the eye and says "right rear is low, add 2psi to it." You check and sure enough he's right, and while checking you notice the brake rotors are so hot you can practically smell your knuckle hairs.
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