On one lengthy stretch of desert highway, the place solely roadrunners and tumbleweeds kick up any mud, the 2020 Audi S4 exceeds the pace restrict with out an effort. Just some unfastened gravel left over from a flash flood may sluggish it down. 

This out-there place within the American Southwest is rather more than what it appears. The temperature swings greater than 40 levels day to nighttime. Oranges, dates, and olives thrive, and candy scented orange blossoms tinge the new dry air with an unique perfume. The prickly pear cactus could be eaten, or, in locations corresponding to Palm Springs, California, made into margaritas. Fiesta, flora, and fauna—lifetime of all types—bloom amid the barren rock heaps and sun-drenched earth. 

So too is the 2020 Audi S4 rather more than what it appears. The sedate compact sedan wears solely minor variations from the refreshed A4. The honeycomb grille replaces the slats on the A4, 18-inch wheels come customary, the door handles are physique shade, and quad chrome exhaust ideas mark the rear. But nearly each panel besides the roof has been adjusted, together with a less-pronounced rocker crease that rises up into the buff rear bumper. 

The adjustments for 2020 are as refined because the S4. The powertrain is identical, however the expertise on the within is faster, clearer, and improved, however nonetheless acquainted.

So why pay $50,895 (together with $995 vacation spot) to begin or as much as $60,000 as soon as all of the goodies are added?

As a result of refined results in shock. And since the 2020 BMW M340i is about $6,000 extra, has inferior in-car tech, and isn’t a lot faster than the S4. 

2020 Audi S4

2020 Audi S4

2020 Audi S4

2020 Audi S4

2020 Audi S4

The M340i makes use of a 382-horsepower Three.Zero-liter turbocharged inline-6 that in all-wheel drive vaults the automotive from Zero-60 mph in four.1 seconds on its option to a prime pace of 130 mph. The 349-hp turbocharged Three.Zero-liter V-6 within the S4 pushes the automotive to 60 mph in four.four seconds and a prime pace of 155 mph. With their Eight-speed automated transmissions, that are each superb, they make 369 pound-feet of torque. 

Lighter, decrease, and wider than the M340i, the S4 chosen by most patrons may also have adaptive dampers as a part of the $2,500 S sport package deal. 

On such open roads with no oncoming automobiles, turnouts, folks, or something however desert, the S4 is spectacular however not mind-blowing, even because it reaches speeds larger than the desert’s highest temperatures. The dealing with is certain at excessive speeds, even because it will get challenged by highway undulations extreme sufficient for successive “Dip” indicators. The entrance finish squeezes down into the melancholy, creating compression that tickles the intestine, and the automotive feels prefer it may get air off the incline. It doesn’t. As a substitute, the lively damping in Dynamic mode retains all 4 wheels planted to keep up grip and stability, which lets the S4 get again up to the mark. The 6-piston crimson caliper entrance brakes, additionally a part of the S sport package deal, haven’t any downside stopping on a dime when the following dip reveals a dusty wash out from a current flash flood.   

With the usual Quattro all-wheel-drive system, 85% of the torque can shift to the rear axle, and the S Sport package deal’s digital limited-slip rear differential with torque vectoring can ship practically all of that torque to both rear wheel. We didn’t get to trace it to push the corners of its dealing with, however previous expertise tells us there are higher observe vehicles within the Audi steady. 

It isn’t till we method city that the S4 has the chance to flit and dart about, sharp because the prick on a cactus. On a regular basis driving, even in a Palm Springs rush hour, turns into a blast within the S4. 

I wish to preserve going, even after seven hours of driving and driving in Audi automobiles. 

With the turbocharger nestled between the banks of the V-6, there isn’t a lot lag from a cease. However out and in of turns it pays to be aggressive with the small however completely sized paddle shifters, or the Eight-speed can hesitate to achieve for the decrease gear. The transmission is fast and clean, however it’s fast to shift when you push it close to the redline. I set it to Dynamic mode and didn’t assume to vary the settings once more in my afternoon with the S4. 

The S4 comes with Audi’s chunky flat-bottomed steering wheel, which has the form of hefty reins you’d need from a steed with twice the ability. It’s aware of inputs, particularly zipping out of a flip or across the slow-moving RVs that dot this panorama, however it doesn’t really feel as straight tied to the highway as I’d want in a efficiency automotive. 

That’s not a nasty factor, because the cabin of the S4 is as cozy beneath the gun as it’s whereas cruising, even with the Status trim’s 19-inch wheels. The centerpiece of the cabin, in addition to the inside updates for 2020, is the brand new 10.1-inch touchscreen as a part of the MIB Three infotainment system. It seems to be like an aftermarket piece protruding from the sprint above the vents, however its performance raises among the finest infotainment programs in the marketplace to the perfect.  

2020 Audi S4

2020 Audi S4

2020 Audi S4

2020 Audi S4

2020 Audi S4

2020 Audi S4

Gone is the rotary controller dial on the middle console. Now the touchscreen makes use of audio and haptic suggestions to copy the texture of buttons. It’s simpler to make use of than different touchscreens, however there’s nonetheless that query of security as your hand and eyes scroll by means of the menus. Thankfully, the icons are bigger, the design is intuitive, and there are nonetheless exhausting controls for the local weather features. The display screen’s handwriting recognition is essentially the most correct I’ve encountered. It’s an precise function, not only a gimmick. 

Even higher, nearly all the information on the touchscreen could be accessed on Audi’s improved Digital Cockpit with a 12.Three-inch digital instrument cluster. The processor powering of MIB Three is 10 occasions extra highly effective than the previous system, making it sooner, clearer, and simpler to make use of. The Google Earth map projection is incredible, and mimics what you’re seeing round you, or what you possibly can’t see from overhead. The assorted views, with the map blanketing the entire show, or positioned within the center, or moved to the margin, ought to enchantment to even essentially the most tech-averse amongst us. I might use it over CarPlay navigation for each journey. 

It’s but another excuse why I’m driving the S4 farther than Audi’s devoted route. 

Because the solar fades and evening beckons, the 2020 S4 is greater than it appears, and that encourages me to maintain the home windows down, the music loud, and drive for only a bit longer, to who is aware of the place. 

Audi offered journey, lodging, and meals to deliver you this firsthand account.

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