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The 2010 S4: odd man out?

With the 2010 S4 sporting a 3.0 supercharged FSi engine, it will be the fastest S4 to date. Though it will sport 330HP, 10 horsepower less than the B7 S4, it will be lighter and have an improved quattro system with it’s torque splitting differential and promises to also be the most agile S4 to date. 

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Even more interesting for 2010 is that Audi has dropped the 3.2L V6 from the A3, A4, and A5 models – so the line up will likely be the 2.0T, 3.0TFSi and then the likely V8 that will come in the RS4 model. However, this begs the question, where does this leave the S4? Is it still a true performance model? Is it a 335i/C350 competitor? 

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The B5 S4, in the U.S.,  was a popular alternative in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s to BMW’s E36 M3. The B5 with it’s four doors, permanent all-wheel-drive and 6-speed manual transmission it provided many with the performance they wanted coupled with more accessible daily use. For those who wanted even more stealth – you had the excellent option of picking up an Avant wagon.

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The B6 and B7 moved Audi’s the S4 line-up into the use of heavy 4.2L V8’s that allowed it to match the E46 M3 and Mercedes C32 AMG on horsepower and performance with providing the 4 doors the M3 didn’t have an useable horsepower from a torquey V8 that the C32 couldn’t match. With the B7 platform, Audi moved the goal post with the RS4 in terms of performance to meet the competition of the new E90 M3 and it’s high revving V8, leaving the B7 S4 no longer the direct competitor to the M3, but more a rival to the comparably lithe 335i. 

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So, where does that leave the upcoming B8 S4? It will be powered by the 3.0 supercharged V6 so is it an M3 rival any longer? Well, no, it isn’t. We can expect an B8 RS4 similar to the RS5 that is close to production and has been tearing up the Nurburgring, so the RS4/5 models will battle head to head with the M3 and C63 AMG. So, it would seem that the S4 will be more a sporting competitor of the BMW 335i and C350 Mercedes versus a halo performance car. 

This idea has been reinforced by Audi has dropping the 3.2L V6 A4 from it’s 2010 line-up meaning that the only other 6 cylinder A4 for Audi will be forced induction S4. This can only lead to the obvious question: What can S4 fans expect the pricing to be if the naturally aspirated V6 is gone and the RS4 will be resurrected as the halo car? If the 3.2L V6 priced starting just under $40,000 is gone – can we expect the S4 to price out in the mid-to-low $40,000 range where a well-specced A4 2.0T would be? This would make the S4 comparable to a 335i M-Sport with similar performance and if fully specced possibly in the low-to-mid $50,000 range. All of this though would buck the trend of where Audi has priced the S4 with the B6 and B7 in the upper $40,000/ low $50,000 range.

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We here at 4Ring would like to think that Audi will price the S4 competitively in the mid-$40,000 range as the car will essentially be moving down market to be a 3 Series competitor versus the M car rival of the past. This would position the model line-up of the A4/S4/RS4 fairly well in-line with rivals while delivering equivalent horsepower. So, what say you, Audi fans? Where do you think the S4 will fall? What will be the price?