Ride and handling
Audi only rarely hits the mark when it comes to entertaining enthusiast drivers, and while the latest A4 is perhaps the closest it’s got outside of certain S4s and RS4s, those looking for genuine entertainment would still be better served by the likes of Alfa Romeo and BMW.
What the A4 does well is cosset its occupants. The days of irritatingly fidgety ride quality have thankfully been banished, and while S line trim can still be firm on its 19-inch alloy wheels, the A4 generally does a good job of insulating you from the noises and motions of rougher roads. The cabin is quiet too – this is a fairly relaxing car to drive at a steady cruise.
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Objectively it’s difficult to pick fault with the A4’s dynamics either, with decent steering precision and ample grip, although little the A4 does is particularly entertaining or engaging. The steering is light and hardly teeming with feedback, and the way the car’s other controls react fails to make you feel a part of the experience. It’s a device for getting from place to place, often still briskly, but nothing more.
The S4 does go some way to redressing the balance though. Not only does it maintain the A4’s other qualities such as refinement and ease of use, but it also throws a touch of involvement into the mix. All-wheel drive gives it huge capability, but with the locking rear diff you also get some say in cornering attitude, helping to push the rear axle around under power – albeit gently – and in Dynamic mode, the steering takes on more weight and the chassis tweaks improve precision.
Combined with the huge shove from that turbodiesel V6, and a surprisingly engaging soundtrack, and the S4 ticks far more of the driver’s car boxes than a standard A4. We’d still, ultimately, pick a rival such as the Mercedes-AMG C43 or Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce Ti to really enjoy the drive, but the S4 is more entertaining than you’d expect.