Supercharge guides Audi S4 to lofty level

The 2014 Audi S4 quattro in Boulder Canyon. (Bud Wells photos)

The 2014 Audi S4 quattro in Boulder Canyon. (Bud Wells photos)

Grip the small, flat-bottom sport steering wheel, push down the accelerator pedal and feel the immediate surge of power in the 2014 Audi S4 quattro.

Audi has replaced the S4’s former V-8 engine with a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6, mated to a 6-speed manual transmission (a 7-speed automatic is optional), churning out 333 horsepower and 326 lb.-ft. of torque.

The 3,850-pound sedan, in dynamic drive mode, was an impressive handler with precise steering in a drive up Boulder Canyon to Nederland and back on Saturday.

The supercharged power, belt-driven, comes on more smoothly than does the exhaust-driven turbocharging systems.

In developing the new engine for the S4, Audi engineers tested the supercharging setup against that of twin-turbo configuration; the supercharger drew favor for more responsiveness, as well as the fact it is more compact for a better fit between the cylinder banks. It is an Eaton Roots-type supercharger with two water-to-air intercoolers integrated into its housing.

Underhood, once for V-8, now houses supercharged V-6

Underhood, once for V-8, now houses supercharged V-6

Turley’s in Boulder was the choice for a late-morning brunch stop for four of us. Kim Parker was treating Ruth Davis, honoring her grandmother’s 94th birthday. Jan, of course, was my seatmate.

While a basic Audi A4 quattro begins in price around $35,000, the S4 review model carried sticker value of $56,045. The difference, primarily, is the supercharged V-6 engine compared with the A4’s turbocharged 4-cylinder, and the superb upgraded handling package in the S4. A tendency toward a bit of understeer in the A4 is overcome with the dynamic drive mode, which tightens steering and shores up suspension.

Titanium-finished five-arm rotor-design wheels (19-inch) were part of a $1,300 black optic package which added attraction to the misano red pearl exterior. The S4 rides on Continental ContiSportContact 255/35ZR19 tires.

Inside, S sport seats with deeply bolstered backs were dressed up in leather and alcantra. Relatively lengthy rear seat cushions added comfort in the rear. Supporting navigation with voice control were premium sound audio, AM/FM/Sirius/CD with SD card reader and music interface with iPod cable.

Three hundred miles of driving, half of that enroute to Nederland and back, averaged 22.2 miles per gallon. The S4’s EPA estimate is 17/26. Here are the ’14 Audi S4 quattro specifications:

  • Wheelbase 110.7 inches
  • Length 185.7 inches
  • Width 72 inches
  • Height 55.4 inches
  • Curb Weight 3,847 pounds
  • Track 61.1inches front, 60.6 rear
  • Ground Clearance 7.1 inches
  • Turn Circle 37.7 feet
  • Drivetrain All-wheel-drive
  • Engine 3.0-liter supercharged V-6
  • Horsepower/Torque 333/326
  • Transmission 6-speed manual
  • Steering electromechanical speed-sensitive
  • Fuel mileage estimate 17/26
  • Fuel mileage average 22.2
  • Fuel Tank 16.9 gallons
  • Wheels 19-inch
  • Cargo Volume 12.4 cubic feet
  • Warranty 4 years/50,000 miles basic, 4/50,000 powertrain

Competitors BMW M3, Cadillac CTS-V sport, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Assembly Plant Ingolstadt, Germany Parts Content Germany 75%, U.S./Canadian 1% Base Price of Lowest Model $34,700; Base Price of Review Model $48,100; Destination Charge $895; Sticker Price $56,045.

The large grille identifies an Audi.

The large grille identifies an Audi.