2010 Audi S4Enlarge Photo
It's great when sedans crack the 12 second quarter mile mark at 108 mph or more but when they weigh 4,000 pounds and are rated at 333 horsepower, something just doesn't add up. In this case, the S4 seems to be making approximately 70 horsepower more than advertised. Consider the following test results:
Road & Track achieved 12.9 seconds at 108.6 mph and 13.2 seconds at 106.8 mph in the S4 for the quarter mile on two separate occasions, while Car and Driver achieved a similar result of 13.4 seconds at 106 mph.
With very aggressive gearing and all-wheel drive like in the Porsche Panamera this would be believable from a 333 horsepower two ton sedan. But these times have been achieved with six-speed manual cars. Looking back to the 420 horsepower RS4 that was also around 4,000 pounds, this matches pretty well. Audi isn't lying about the weight either. The Road & Track car weighed in at 4,010 pounds. A really quick pig, if you will.
At 333 horsepower, an all-wheel drive car needs to weigh around 3,300 pounds to achieve those speeds. There is more parasitic loss with all-wheel drive versus a two-wheel drive powertrain layout. Is Audi purposefully underrating the car? Or does cool weather and a cool motor with direct injection make a lot more horsepower than if fully warmed up at normal operating temperatures?
This has happened in the past and perhaps forced induction motors are more susceptible to horsepower variations in temperature. If intentional, it's a nice benefit for the owners. But if the ratings creep up during the model run, what changes warrant it?
There is a 13.0 second run at 107 mph on dragtimes.com that’s attributed to a private party. Hopefully this means these are not magazine "ringers" with aggressive tunes or smaller-than-stock supercharger pulleys creating more boost. Many, including myself, think Nissan did this with the pre-production GT-Rs that were much quicker than those sold in the showrooms. And of course, the Nurburgring times are questionable for any 3,800 pound 480 horsepower car. You can't defy physics but Audi isn't making any wild claims--except of course the low horsepower rating...
It's in Audi's best interest to disclose the horsepower variance and I would love to see if the seven-speed dual clutch transmission can do better and if it has more aggressive gearing. Interestingly, Audi lists the weight of the manual transmission car at 3,847 pounds, 77 pounds less than the seven-speed. They are not fibbing that the weight is over 3800 pounds, that's for sure.
Audi's supercharged S4 eclipses the previous generation RS4 and is beating the competition. If driving it is anything like my experience in the A5, it's awesome. Not bad from ‘only’ 333 horsepower, right?