It's been about one year and 7,000 miles with our B7 Audi S4. While not perfect, we still think it's the best performance car, and unquestionably a hell of a lot of car for the money. In no particular order, here's the good and bad highlights so far.
+ We've found the B7 S4 to be exceptionally comfortable. In city driving, on highway road trips, the Recaro seats are ace and the driver's cockpit spacious enough and well designed. Mrs. MinimumTread offers no complaints from her side of the vehicle either.
+ Holy interior build quality… It's a 10+ year old German performance coupe or sedan and offers not a single rattle, squeak, or audible annoyance inside of the cabin. Uncommon, to say the least. At highway speeds little wind noise penetrates the cabin.
Optimistic? Yes, probably a bit. But certainly we're doing much better than the rated 15 city / 19 highway that the S4 is supposed to deliver.
+ The S4 is a destructive winter force. Fitted with the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 the S4 with Quattro issued a giant middle finger to every winter storm last season.
+ Reliability! Total running costs so far: ~$150 for an oil change, and a couple of low cost seasonal tire swaps at Sears. As can be seen in the image above our ambient temp sensor is flaking out here and there. Research indicates that it's probably a $9 sensor and a diy job.
+ The low rpm torque is ideal for daily driving duties. We find ourselves regularly taking stoplight & right angle corners in 4th gear. There's also plenty of power on tap in 6th at highway speeds as well -- no need to downshift to alter the situation.
- Brake feel leaves something to be desired. There's very little bite up top and standard stops require more pressure than we'd like. A set of more aggressive pads would probably address the issue.
- In gear throttle response is just fine, but the S4 lacks the throttle sharpness to accommodate larger throttle blips on particular downshifts -- 3rd to 2nd at 35 mph, for example. The throttle/engine struggles to keep up with an aggressive blip command.
- Push the S4 hard into a corner and it interprets that as a directive to ignore the corner. The B7 S4 is clearly from the understeer Audi era, and that front end mass is felt every time you get a bit spirited.
However, it's worth noting that the subpar all season Continentals currently fitted don't do the S4 any favors in the bends (see our Continental ControlContact Sport A/S review). Replacement with a set of Continental ExtremeContact DWS 06 or BF Goodrich g-Force COMP-2 A/S will help the cause.
So our criticisms are largely limited to performance driving dynamics, and in all honesty, that's not entirely fair. It's a nearly 2 generation old S4 that costs less than a base model Ford Focus.
What the B7 Audi S4 delivers for the price is remarkable. It's a total steal at current prices, and we're not regretting the purchase whatsoever.