- Hearty V-8 power
- Standard all-wheel drive
- Nicely weighted steering
- Available as a wagon
- Relatively small trunk
- Pricey for a compact sedan
- No longer the fastest car in its niche
The 2008 Audi S4 has aged gracefully—and still has fleet V-8 feet and great handling, too.
Audi's latest A4 arrived in 2002, and it's due to be replaced in the 2009 model year with a new range of sedans and wagons. But for the 2008 model year, the fastest A4s ever have arrived in the form of the S4 sedan and wagon, as well as the RS4 Cabriolet and sedan.
Coming in sedan and Avant wagon versions, with quattro all-wheel drive standard, the 2008 Audi S4 range offers exceptional performance thanks to its 340-horsepower 4.2-liter V-8 engine. It's no longer the only V-8 in its class, with the arrival of the Lexus IS-F, the BMW M3, and the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, but it will accelerate to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds—not far off the mark set by that trio of high-performance luxosedans.
The S4's V-8 can be mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with paddle shifters and a manual-operation mode. To give it better handling over the stock A4, the S4 gets stiffer suspension settings and a lower ride height. Hydraulic power steering gives great road feel with lighter effort than some tuned sedans, and the Audi S4's braking feels natural and progressive.
Like all 2008 Audi A4 vehicles, the Audi S4 undergoes cosmetic changes to signify its tougher demeanor. S4 badges are sprinkled inside and out; sedans get a decklid spoiler, while wagons pick up aluminum roof rails. Dual exhausts and sport seats round out the discreetly handsome package.
The 2008 Audi S4's front seats are comfortable and supportive, and the instrument panel speaks of high-grade materials and great assembly quality. The S4 benefits from a larger rear-seat area than past Audi compacts, too. Its trunk, however, remains relatively small, with just 13.4 cubic feet of total capacity.
Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, stability control, traction control, and front-seat side-impact and curtain airbags come standard. All S4s get standard Sirius Satellite Radio and can be ordered with 18-inch wheels, an iPod integration kit, and a navigation system.
Though it's at the end of its life cycle, the Audi S4 remains one of the most sophisticated luxury sedans on the market. It's not the fastest German compact any more, but it's one of the most balanced offerings and one of the few to sport standard all-wheel drive.