The 2009 Audi S4 is a compact sports car, available only as a convertible, or as they call it, a cabriolet. It’s the sports version of the A4 and its competition is Cadillac CTS, BMW M5, Lexus IS, Mitsubishi Lancer and Lancer Evolution, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Infiniti G37. Not as attractive as some of the other S model Audis, the S4 is still a nice looking car.
Though small, the S4 is a powerhouse. The engine is a 340 horsepower double overhead cam 4.2 liter V8. There is a choice of transmissions, either a six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual, either with overdrive. Both have Audi’s famous Quattro all-wheel drive.
The manual transmission gets thirteen miles per gallon in the city and nineteen miles per gallon on the highway. The automatic improves that a little at fourteen miles per gallon city and twenty-one miles per gallon on the road. If you’re looking for great gas mileage, you probably shouldn’t be looking for a sports car.
There are no NHTSA safety ratings specific to the S4, however, the ratings for the A4, which is the same basic body style, are five-star all around. Safety features include antilock brakes, electronic brake assist, traction/stability control, passenger sensing right front airbag, engine immobilizer, tire pressure monitor, anti-theft alarm, headlight washers, electronic brakeforce distribution, child seat anchors and a first aid kit.
An Audi wouldn’t be an Audi without the features that make you go “wow!” The S4 is no exception. Some of those features are a trip computer; power, remote convertible roof with glass rear window; rear window defogger; leather upholstery; eight-way power front bucket seats with power lumbar support; multi-level heated front seats; power, heated outside mirrors; power windows, door locks and trunk release; tilt/telescopic leather wrapped steering wheel with mounted controls; leather interior trim and leather wrapped gear shift knob; interior charcoal air filter; premium sound system with ten speakers; six CD changer with MP3 player and satellite radio; and hands free, pre-wired, Bluetooth cell phone setup.
Compact or not, at a base price of $57,125 ($58,325 with automatic transmission) the 2009 Audi S4 is probably not the car the average family will buy for their high school or college kid, nor will it be the choice of starter car for most young families. In fact, I’m not sure just what the market for a luxury compact is, as those terms have always seemed a bit oxymoronic to me. But if, for whatever reason, you’re in the market for a luxury compact, don’t overlook the S4. As usual, even in a small car Audi delivers big.