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What's so wonderful about the 2018 S4 !!

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Old 09-11-2017, 09:26 AM
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Default What's so wonderful about the 2018 S4 !!

OK so we're almost at a month in with our 2018 S4 and I have some initial observations on what is it that makes this car so GREAT --

We got this car for my wife to replace her 2014 A6 TDI. My current DD is an RS7, and I have owned the B8.5 S4 for 3.5 years prior.

1.) The car has a solidness to it that I have never felt in a car this size. Everything from the door thunk closing, to on road feel - it lacks the usual 'lackluster' feeling in smallish sedans. We got the prestige package - and with dual pane front windows - this is amongst one of the quietest cars for 'road noise' that we have owned. The RS7 is noisier cruising down the highway on the same roads vs our S4 (on 19" wheels).

2.) The Bang and Olufsen OEM stereo is spectacular. I would say better sound then the RS7s version (and they charge $6K to add that on on it!)

3.) Heads up display in the prestige is a must and a drive-changer. You no longer need to take eyes away from the road to see how fast you're going. This is what swayed us to order the prestige package. Should be a standard option on ALL cars now (especially the sportier ones).

4.) By far the most IMPRESSIVE feat in this car is the sport adaptive suspension, thats part of the s sport package. I have not driven this car without that package - but all I can say is this is the best out of the box daily-driveable suspension I have been in.

I would call it supple firm - where it is smooth going down the road, without the 'floating' feel that usually accomplishes such a feat. You still have GREAT road feel - without the ride being jagged. In dynamic mode - it stiffens it up a bit, but definitely not unbearably so. To me - THIS is the appeal of the s sport package, that you have instant feedback to (unlike rear diff which you have to get the car over 9/10s to start noticing potential differences).

5.) Electronics / all the modern gizmos / widgetry is great. Screen has great resolution. Love the electronic gauges. This car FEELS 2018.

6.) This car (especially) up front feels roomier then my B8.5 S4. With a passenger sitting next to me, it does not feel claustrophobic.

7.) Fit and finish is spectacular. Between napa leather, alcantara on doors, carbon fiber/aluminum (whatever you spec it with) - it rivals vehicles twice the cost. Not a single rattle on the interior. Everything has an expensive feel to it. No panel / surface left untouched. The napa leather is great and looks / feels the part.

8.) We opted for the standard steering (not dynamic) - and I'm still unsure on which one is best. The standard steering in this car - even in 'dynamic' setting feels very vaguely light - but FITS the cars character. The car is very responsive to minute changes in steering input.

I have dynamic steering in the RS7 and cannot stand it in the comfort mode where 'dynamic steering' (variable steering ratio) actually plays effect.

These are some of my current observations of what makes this car such a relative 'bargain' in the sport sedan world - and a great contestant against other, pricier cars in the BMW / Benz / Audi world.

In no way does this feel like a 'downgrade' from many of the higher-tier cars in the car world - more like a choice of priorities now (how much room you need, what kind of driving you do, etc..).

Hope this helps anybody out thinking / shopping for one - or please share your viewpoints on anything I mentioned here ---
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Old 09-11-2017, 12:17 PM
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Great post!

Some notes from another 2018 S4 Prestige owner.

While I realize/recognize there is a cost factor in my comments, it seems that this car should only come as "Prestige" and that there ought to be several options, packages and accessories that could be used by customers to personalize the finished product. The color pallet too (and the seat materials and colors) are part of the "options" that I'm speaking about.


Your comment:

"3.) Heads up display in the prestige is a must and a drive-changer. You no longer need to take eyes away from the road to see how fast you're going. This is what swayed us to order the prestige package. Should be a standard option on ALL cars now (especially the sportier ones)."

I completely agree, the HU display should be (and I predict WILL be) standard in all cars, regardless of MSRP); additionally the "Top-view monitor," too should be standard -- I was, frankly, blown away to check up on the NEWEST ($80,000+) member of the Porsche Cayenne family to find out that at that price there is no back-up camera even. The Audi back-up, front and/or rear corner view, top view and alerts (the red directional arrows with the braking help should you ignore the warnings) should be considered "standard" as they will surely reduce low speed body injuries (the car's body, of course) and ought to be "encouraged" by the insurance companies as a huge claim-saving device.

With respect to the HU display, I would think the turn signal indication should be added to the HU display as should the Audi Side-assist notification and probably even the radio station info -- and the information (well, most of it) should be configurable in the MMI. I wish, for instance, that the cruise control speed would remain on the screen and that if you're using the paddles, the gear your in should be displayed "M4" etc.

Your comment:

"4.) By far the most IMPRESSIVE feat in this car is the sport adaptive suspension, thats part of the s sport package. I have not driven this car without that package - but all I can say is this is the best out of the box daily-driveable suspension I have been in.

I would call it supple firm - where it is smooth going down the road, without the 'floating' feel that usually accomplishes such a feat. You still have GREAT road feel - without the ride being jagged. In dynamic mode - it stiffens it up a bit, but definitely not unbearably so. To me - THIS is the appeal of the s sport package, that you have instant feedback to (unlike rear diff which you have to get the car over 9/10s to start noticing potential differences)."

With respect to the "adjustable shocks" (dynamic, comfort, auto) vs. the "fixed shocks" (I've driven both) on the non SAS equipped version, the only difference (and it is minor) that I could discern is with the "comfort" setting. The fixed system seems to me to be about the same as the dynamic selection on the adaptive suspension (which would make sense). The comfort setting on the SAS system seems to have a tiny bit less damping (as it should) but I have to assume most folks who would opt for an S4 in the first place would not find "comfort" as a much used setting. As usual, I could be wrong, there may be folks who buy an S4 and long for the ability to "loosen it up a bit."

On the matter of the torque-vectoring differential, I hate to agree with you -- and as a standalone option I would have gone for it -- but the '18 S4 actually improved upon the "under-steering proclivities" of the 2014 S4 substantially PLUS the '18 S4 comes with brake-based (front and rear) torque management that uses the electronic stability program's sensors to determine the potential for under-steer and brakes the inside front and rear (if needed) wheel to provide a "pivot" capability to the car, thus mitigating under-steer. Although this system is inferior to the differential based system provided in the Sport Package offering, you correctly identified that you need to get over 9/10ths to actually get noticeable improvements attributable to the sport-diff. The vast majority of buyers of S4's will not track them -- ever. Most S4 buyers live in urban centers (meaning lots of traffic circumstances that make "appreciating" even the brake based "torque management" a rare event.)

The hell of it is -- speaking personally -- I wanted the sport diff (which up until the 2018 S4 was available as a stand-alone $1,100 option.) I will, in private, still complain (bitterly) that I couldn't get one -- but I will, also in private, know that it is highly improbable that I will ever even come close to driving in such a manner that I would even notice the sport-diff in action. I also believe I would make these exact same remarks if I had the sport-diff, but I would like someone at Audi to know they lost a sale by bundling. Apparently, Audi marketing determined that both their top and bottom lines improve when options that used to be sold separately are bundled -- actually this "bundling" is exactly what is done when one ticks the "Prestige" "package" on the order form.


Also, I would've given my left . . . uh, ear, to be able to order the red calipers, but alas, no dice. I showed them, huh?!?


As of today I am at about 5,400 miles -- best Audi EVER! Previously, my "best Audi ever" was a Teal-green pearl with brilliant white leather S6 (20v 5-cylinder), manual transmission -- with a STANDARD "Car Phone" (built into the leather covered arm-rest) -- the thing must've weighed many pounds, but it was, after all, voice controlled (after EXTENSIVE training).

Oddly (somewhat in response to your remark about NOT getting this particular option) I did have the dynamic steering on my 2009 A4 Prestige -- and in dynamic mode, it seemed like I could do a U-turn with about a quarter of a turn of the steering wheel. Not exactly sure what made it so expensive since it's main salient feature was its ability to allow huge changes in the angle of the steered wheels with tiny movements of the steering wheel. I actually think the dynamic steering and the red calipers are the most noticeable options you can buy (for different reasons, of course).


Speaking of quiet -- you're right, with the dual pane glass muffling the sounds of the outside world to the fullest, this S4 is one of the quietest cars I've ever driven or ridden in (at ANY price point). I have NOT been in a new A8, but I was provided an A8L as a loaner car last year and this S4 is remarkably quiet -- I remember thinking (about the A8) this isn't really much different than my 2014 S4 in terms of isolation from the outside world.

I had a new S6 for an "overnight" test drive -- it too wasn't as stealthy as the S4 and the Bose sound system in the S6 was, truth be told, HORRIBLE. The S4's B&O system is very impressive.


Knowing what I know now, I'd advise someone looking at one of these to go with:

Prestige
Fine Napa Leather
Driver Assistance
Dynamic Steering
and -- possibly -- a non-free paint color.

Period.

Also, I would advise NOT going with the Audi chosen "all/season" tire option -- which ends up being H-rated Grand Touring tires that completely fork-up the handling. Go ahead and take the summer only tires and know they will Live Fast and Die Young (about 12,000-14,000 miles). Then, if you need year 'round rubber, go with an Ultra-high Performance A/S set of tires from Continental, Michelin or Pirelli. Audi's choice of "all season" tires is something I would expect on, hmm, a Honda Accord or Chrysler 200.

Also, if you go with a dark or very dark leather interior, consider passing on the carbon fiber trim since the dash will be black and with the black carbon fiber trim, you will lose some of the contrast that makes the interior pop. Of course, if you love black seats, black dash, black headliner, etc, by all means consider the black gloss carbon fiber. To me, too monochromatic, not enough contrast. But, once again, I could be wrong.

The black optics package is pretty good looking too, but I was disappointed that it takes the "S"-ness of the S4 (which is the aluminum-look mirrors) away, opting instead to have the mirrors present themselves in body color (like the lesser A4).

Overall, though, after 33 of these great cars, our current '18 Prestige S4 and SQ5 are "The king and queen of the world!" (for the money).

Last edited by markcincinnati; 09-11-2017 at 12:31 PM.
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Old 09-11-2017, 12:37 PM
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Sure it would be nice if the HUD were legible with polarized sunglasses, such as with ... well, say GM cars.
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Old 09-11-2017, 01:07 PM
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Agreed, I ordered my new sunglasses without polarization for this very reason. You'd think some bright engineer would figure this out.
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Old 09-11-2017, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by markcincinnati View Post
Agreed, I ordered my new sunglasses without polarization for this very reason. You'd think some bright engineer would figure this out.
They did, at GM
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Old 09-12-2017, 12:30 AM
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Originally Posted by markcincinnati View Post

The hell of it is -- speaking personally -- I wanted the sport diff (which up until the 2018 S4 was available as a stand-alone $1,100 option.) I will, in private, still complain (bitterly) that I couldn't get one -- but I will, also in private, know that it is highly improbable that I will ever even come close to driving in such a manner that I would even notice the sport-diff in action. I also believe I would make these exact same remarks if I had the sport-diff, but I would like someone at Audi to know they lost a sale by bundling. Apparently, Audi marketing determined that both their top and bottom lines improve when options that used to be sold separately are bundled -- actually this "bundling" is exactly what is done when one ticks the "Prestige" "package" on the order form.

Also, I would've given my left . . . uh, ear, to be able to order the red calipers, but alas, no dice. I showed them, huh?!?
Mark, I can't help wondering every time this comes up... why didn't you just get the sport package? Since you would like the sport diff (~$1100) and red brake calipers (~$500), that leaves only about $900 for the adjustable shocks. With all the vast amounts of money you have spent on and for these cars, swapping out for a new one every few years, extra oil changes, rims and tires, and Audi Care... for the love of Pete why didn't you just spend the extra $900 for an additional (nice to have) item on the bundle?

On my daily drives I may not typically get into torque-vectoring territory, but when I do (and it will happen, especially for the rest of my time in Germany)... by gosh I want that sport-diff. The price differential on a car at this cost-bracket makes an add-on like this nearly inconsequential. For me, *personally* (I respect that these are personal decisions), an Audi S-car MUST have Quattro (usually a given), mechanical sport-differential, and different color brake calipers that (as you say) add at least 25hp
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Old 09-12-2017, 06:32 AM
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Originally Posted by dbuxton13 View Post
Mark, I can't help wondering every time this comes up... why didn't you just get the sport package? Since you would like the sport diff (~$1100) and red brake calipers (~$500), that leaves only about $900 for the adjustable shocks. With all the vast amounts of money you have spent on and for these cars, swapping out for a new one every few years, extra oil changes, rims and tires, and Audi Care... for the love of Pete why didn't you just spend the extra $900 for an additional (nice to have) item on the bundle?
I gotta say, I've wondered EXACTLY that a zillion times, but I didn't bring it up because I didn't want to rub it in.
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Old 09-12-2017, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Talbot View Post
I gotta say, I've wondered EXACTLY that a zillion times, but I didn't bring it up because I didn't want to rub it in.
Me too. Me too.... But, hey, it is already the best Audi of the last 33 so far so maybe Mark is just leaving a little room so the next one can be just a little bit better.
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Old 09-12-2017, 06:59 AM
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HUD would be great IF:

It allowed for more interchangeability in what is displayed. I don't care much about street signs. The GPS directions are nice but I don't use that feature all that often as I normally know where I am going.

HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THEY DO NOT HAVE THE CURRENT GEAR YOU'RE IN AND THE TACH AVAILABLE IN THE DISPLAY??!!?!?!?

It absolutely blows my freaking mind that the two bits of information a performance driver wants to have at his/her beck and call are the gear and the current revs?

Without that, it's virtually useless for me. I paid the premium both in up front price and lower residual to get the prestige model for:

The top view camera. Massively glitched. You cant set the top view as the default main and when you set it as the default supplementary, it changes back to the useless sensor view after a power cycle or two.

The HUD. Discussed above.

The virtual cockpit. (Used way less than I thought I would. Now it just constantly reminds me that I get an average of 12 mpg.

I also noticed that the RS3 has a disappearing center screen!!! Where is that in the S4.

Couple all this with the ridiculous transmission mapping creating undrivable "lag" and this car has the comfortable seats, great handling and amazing looks as the only legs left to stand on. The looks are augmented by the fact I run aftermarket rims and Eibach springs. The handling and sport dif I paid for are virtually useless with the ridiculous lag coming out of a turn.

The worst part is Audi has acknowledged the problem with the camera and straight up said they have no fix planned. They even suggested I try and mod it with OBD11 (not an option I can find there)

I have to say the longer I drive this car, the less I love it.

Last edited by ibu11et; 09-12-2017 at 07:13 AM.
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Old 09-12-2017, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by heisnuts View Post
Me too. Me too.... But, hey, it is already the best Audi of the last 33 so far so maybe Mark is just leaving a little room so the next one can be just a little bit better.
I have an undergraduate degree in Sociology (and did take two post graduate courses in Soc, while pursuing my Masters). One of the teachnings that has stayed with me these many years is the concept of "The Sociological Imagination." Not to get too deep in the weeds:

C. Wright Mills defined sociological imagination as - "The awareness of the relationship between personal experience and the wider society."

Guided by this, I believe we consumers can only impact and perhaps facilitate change is by "voting with our dollars." Your point is certainly valid and it is not lost on me.

However, I voted with my dollars specifically to discourage a type of behavior (bundling more and more "options" into packages) that I found to be the limiting of choice.

You are correct, the delta between what I would have ordered if the options were unbundled and/or bundled would have been, before discount, south of $1,000.

This was, as you have identified, NOT a money issue. I actually ordered two identical cars -- one with the sport "bundle" and one without it. The difference was $2,000 (one was Ibis and one Daytona Gray) before discount and I would have paid $400 for the red calipers and $1,100 for the sport diff. The true delta, for me, then, would have been $470.

After I went ahead with the Daytona Pearl model -- I did not PRIOR to signing on the bottom line and writing a check, drive the Ibis version -- I drove an S4 with the sport package, summer tires and 18" wheels (later).

I was both surprised, disappointed and relieved that the two cars seem to be identical. I was so relieved that my purchase on principal would have been impossible to differentiate "had I been blindfolded" -- BASED ON NORMAL, STANDARD, POSSIBLE driving circumstances. Of course the shocks when set to Comfort did make the car feel slightly more "floaty." Otherwise, the red calipers were the "feature" that I found most noticeable and NOT worth the $2,000 delta on the Ibis car nor the $2,500 I would have had to have paid on the Daytona Gray car.

I have been to Germany approximately 25 times. I have taken the Audi driving school in Seefeld, Austria 4 times and have driven the autobahn from Berlin to Munich and Garmisch (several times) -- at very high speeds. Yet, I don't live in Germany and while I do appreciate the poster who does live in Germany, apparently in the US military (thank you for your service), I live and drive in the SMSA of Cincinnati, which, unfortunately has no autobahns.

The Audi S4's brake based torque management is excellent -- and, yet, my "ego" tells me "I should have gone with the sport diff." But my vote -- to make a point -- was more important to me than satisfying my "want" of the option.

I voted to not buy a bundle of options, not for financial reason, to make a point. C. Wright Mills, I hope, would have been proud that I practiced the Sociological Imagination.

Of course, I, like you (and everyone else) am rationalizing.

Maybe next time.

Last edited by markcincinnati; 09-12-2017 at 07:20 AM.
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