January 8, 2001

NAIAS 2001 - Audi S4 Avant
Article Compiled by Jamie Von Druska
From the Audi Press Release

The Audi S4 continues its tradition of power and control but now adds versatility with the introduction of the 2001 S4 Avant (US only). Audi's S models (now consisting of the S4 Sedan and Avant and S8) are a vehicle concept that perfectly combines superior performance and control with masterfully understated appearance, without sacrificing everyday practicality.

The Powertrain
Start with the quick-responding 2.7-liter V6 bi-turbo engine and feel Audi's no-compromise philosophy. With its two small turbochargers that cut in smoothly when needed, this power plant, with five valves per cylinder, delivers its maximum output of 250 horsepower at just 5,800 rpm. The shape of the torque curve expresses the superiority of the engine even more clearly. Available over a broad engine-speed range stretching from 1,850 to 4,500 rpm, the S4 produces 258 lbs. ft. of torque. All this equates to a vehicle that leaps zero to 60 mph in just 5.9 seconds with the standard six-speed manual transmission.

The power of the V6 bi-turbo is converted reliably and effectively into traction by a standard 6-speed sports-ratio gearbox (or an optional five speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic, at no extra cost) and Audi's proven quattro permanent all-wheel-drive. Even with the automatic transmission, this car is capable of reaching 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds.

As one would expect in such a car, the suspension has received a great deal of attention to deliver just the right sort of performance - control around the corners, but comfort down the road. This has been achieved in large part with the use of an aluminum-intensive revised suspension. In addition to all control arms in the four-link virtual center front and double wishbone rear suspension, all ball joints are now made of aluminum as well. The S4 Avant suspension settings are lowered (20 mm) with more firm shock absorbers and spring settings with thicker stabilizer bars.

The brake system also has been upgraded to match the surging forward thrust: large ventilated disc brakes front and rear with aluminum brake calipers ensure optimum braking performance. The front brakes utilize 4-pad front brake caliper technology for an added measure of security.

Appearance Standard Equipment and Options
On the outside, the differences between the S4 and the A4 are understated. The S4's powerful appearance also is partly due to its lowered sports suspension, with wide 225 tires and 17-inch 'Avus' alloy wheels. Subtle styling cues are placed on the S4, such as 'S' badging on the front grille and the trunk lid. Additional style elements include the aluminum doorsill trim and roof rails (on the S4 Avant), and large front air intake openings.

Inside, the S4 has remained true to the restrained style typical of Audi's S models. Elegant pearl nappa leather upholstery covers the standard power sport front seats, the rear seat area, armrest and door panel inserts in a rich onyx or silver color.

To set the S4 apart, there are two signature colors that are not available on any other A4. They are Imola Yellow and Nogaro Blue pearl effect. The rest of the color palette includes: Brilliant Black with clearcoat, Laser Red, and Light Silver metallic, Cactus Green pearl effect, Santorin Blue pearl effect, Hibiscus Red pearl effect, and now Casablanca White.

Starting from the front, the S4 includes high-powered xenon headlights as standard equipment (US only). They offer the driver a greater visibility range and particularly uniform illumination of the road surface.

Inside the car, standard equipment includes: 10-way power sports seats (for the driver and front passenger), including electric lumbar adjustment and lockable head restraints; the Audi 'Symphony' AM/FM stereo cassette radio with in-dash CD player; an 8-speaker 80 watt sound system and a subwoofer in the Avant; a fully automatic climate control system with sun intensity control and pollen filter; a standard Driver Information Display with a six-function trip computer including Audi's Auto Check system to monitor vital functions, ambient temperature, radio frequency and a pictogram which shows the status of all doors; power windows with one-touch up for the front windows and one-touch down for all windows; electronic cruise control; power central locking system with standard remote keyless entry; heated driver door lock; electrically adjustable outside mirrors with defog feature; 60/40 split folding rear seat backs with individual locks; leather wrapped shift knob and steering wheel; full size spare with matching alloy wheel; and front and rear fog lights.

The S4 comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission to give the driver maximum control. An optional five-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic, is available as well, giving the driver a choice of using it as a normal automatic transmission, or upshifting and downshifting manually using a special shift gate, or via the thumb controls located on the standard three-spoke leather-covered steering wheel.

Options on a car as well equipped as this are few. The Cold Weather package includes heated front seats with individual temperature control (standard in Canada) and an expandable ski storage sack (standard on the Avant). The Premium package includes a glass sunroof with sunshade, a HomeLink transmitter, and auto dimming exterior and interior mirrors. The Enhanced Sport interior package replaces the standard pearl nappa leather with a combination of pearl nappa leather and Alcantara seat inserts, silver aluminum beltline trim, and aluminum mirror housings.

Stand-alone options include, the Audi Navigation System, Bose premium sound system, hands free cellular telephone and 6-disc CD Changer.

Audi Safety Performance Class-leading safety technology on both S4 Sedans and Avants include standard front side airbag supplemental restraints, next generation driver and passenger front airbags, and the new SIDEGUARD head airbag system.

When triggered, the Sideguard safety system covers virtually the entire side window area and in an accident protects the heads of all occupants of the front or outside rear seats. The crucial advantage of the large-area head airbag as used by Audi over comparable systems is that it helps prevent the occupants from colliding with the A pillar thanks to the special configuration of the air pockets. In contrast to the front airbags, the head-level airbags, which are about 5.9 inches thick, remain inflated for about five seconds in order to provide protection if the vehicle subsequently rolls over.

Safety also comes in the form of traction with Audi's all-wheel-drive, fourth generation of the quattro system. The key to quattro has always been to vary power distribution to all four wheels, all of the time, at most any speed. The latest addition as standard equipment is ESP.

ESP continually monitors the parameters critical for the maintenance of the car's stability and intervenes automatically if there is any risk that it might skid. The ESP control unit calculates the momentary state of the vehicle from the wheel speeds and data supplied by the anti-lock brake system (ABS), the traction control system (ASR), and by sensors that detect the steering angle, yaw moment and lateral acceleration. Using this information it can then initiate any countermeasures deemed necessary. ESP counteracts oversteer by selectively braking the front wheel on the outside of the bend, while in the case of understeer; it briefly brakes the rear wheel on the inside of the bend.

Many manufacturers are beginning to offer some form of all-wheel-drive in their vehicles because they recognize the inherent benefits of it, a conclusion which Audi reached 20 years ago. Audi's quattro tradition enables its technology to be generally more efficient in terms of packaging when compared to other all-wheel-drive systems. Specifically, these advantages include no ride height penalty, less added weight, less extra space required for the system, and lower parasitic drag than most other all-wheel drive systems.

Compared to the 'disabling' technology of some traction control systems - where engine power is reduced until wheel spin is under control - quattro is an 'enabling' technology. The traction seeking capability of quattro reads the road, putting the power to the pavement and reducing wheel spin even as it begins.