BMW 340i Luxury 2016 review
Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the BMW 340i Luxury with specs, fuel consumption and verdict
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Forced induction sounds like a ferocious sergeant major burning do-it-or-die orders into the tortured minds of green recruits. Happily, in the case of Audi's savage new S4, all the shouting is worth it, because it delivers lots of extra power and performance without paying a massive penalty at the bowser.
A huge fan of creating bigger bangs by pushing additional air and fuel into an engine's cylinders, Audi has changed the way that's achieved in its S4 performance sedan.
Launching the car in February this year, Audi Australia almost wore out the phrase 'all-new', so let there be no confusion, all of this sixth generation S4, is... new. Really new. Very new. And a key part of its maximum newness is the swap from a supercharged 3.0-litre petrol V6 engine, to a turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol V6.
Why change from one kind of forced induction to another? It's all part of a grand and ingenious plan to make the S4 lighter, faster, more economical, and significantly cheaper.
It almost sounds too good to be true. But is it?
|Audi S4 2017: 3.0 TFSI Quattro|
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
It's testament to Audi's unwavering design discipline that even the most un car-focused among us have few problems identifying its current range. Truly, it is a design language that stands out from the crowd, and not by being ugly.
Some might moan about 'all Audis looking the same', but when even a humble four-door sedan is as sleek and charismatic as this one, who cares? When you're on to a good thing, stick with it.
After three years as Audi's design chief, the charming and effusive Marc Lichte's influence is starting to make its presence felt, and the S4 represents a precise evolution of the brand's distinctive sculptural language.
The S4's hexagonal 'single frame' grille sits above a prominent lip spoiler, and between angular headlights and large gill-like air intakes to create an aggressive expression, vaguely reminiscent of a Japanese Kabuki Warrior (although more German, obviously).
Subtle strakes outline complex curves across the bonnet, which combine with long, uninterrupted character lines along the side of the car to reinforce an air of simple sophistication.
Bold 19-inch alloy rims fill the wheelarches neatly, and the rear end comes over all racy with an integrated spoiler and quad exhausts setting the tone. Perfect, or damn close to it.
The interior is, as always with Audis, super-cool, from the scent of quilted nappa leather caressing your nostrils, to the neat sweep of ventilation outlets across the fascia, and carbon inserts around the broad centre console, doors and dash. Adjustable ambient lighting transforms the car into an exclusive mobile nightclub, and it all reeks of quality in terms of design, materials and execution.
At 4.75m long, just over 1.8m wide, and 1.4m high the S4 sits at the larger end of the compact luxury sedan field. Slightly lengthier overall than BMW's 3 Series, Jaguar's XE, and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, it gives away a few millimetres in wheelbase to the Jag and Merc. But that doesn't mean things are in any way tight on the inside.
There's plenty of space up front with ample headroom and easy entry/egress through generous door apertures. There are heaps of places to store your stuff as well, including a lidded storage box between the seats, a better than average glove box, a decent oddments tray in the centre console, and large door pockets with room for bottles. And if you're keen on plugging, connecting, or linking, you'll find a 12-volt outlet, two USB ports and a line-in auxiliary input.
Despite a shorter wheelbase than any of its key competitors, back seaters also cop a better than fair deal in the S4. Head and legroom is fine for this 183cm tester and the flood of storage space continues unabated.
There are (net) map pockets on the front seatbacks, generous bottle bins in the doors, as well as a storage box and two cupholders in the fold-down centre armrest. Big tick for the adjustable ventilation with temp control, sitting with another 12-volt outlet in the back of the centre console box.
Open up the bootlid and you'll be greeted with 480 litres of cargo space, with the option of folding the 40/20/40 split rear seat to accommodate longer loads. Four tie-down points and a cargo net are included to help stabilise whatever you've slung in there. Speaking of which, the CarsGuide pram fitted easily, as did our three-piece hard shell suitcase set (once we took the pram out).
Netted storage areas take advantage of the space behind the rear wheel tubs and a pair of pop-out hanging hooks to keep bags and smaller items under control is a nice touch. There's also yet another 12-volt outlet and a decent light in case you need to extract the space saver spare from under the floor.
Cover charge for entry to the Audi S4 club is $99,900, and even though you've avoided six figures by a scant hundred bucks, that number brings a heap of standard fruit to the table.
Highlights include 19-inch Audi Sport alloy wheels, 'S suspension' with adaptive damper control, three zone climate control air, no less than four wide angle cameras to provide a 360 degree view around the car, 'Park Assist' (helps with parallel and perpendicular spaces), keyless entry and start, LED headlights (including LED DRLs), LED tail-lights, privacy glass, 'S body styling' (bumpers, grille, sill trim, and bootlid spoiler), heated sports front seats with electric adjustment (and memory for the driver), plus combination leather/Alcantara trim.
A hundred large is not to be sneezed at, and that figure puts the S4 in line with some sharp competitors.
There's also adaptive cruise control, auto headlights and wipers, ambient lighting, an 'S Design' sports leather steering wheel, 'Audi drive select' (offering five driving modes), 10-speaker, 180 watt audio, the 'Audi Virtual Cockpit' (more on this piece of digital brilliance later), and 'MMI navigation plus'.
A hundred large is not to be sneezed at, and that figure puts the S4 in line with some sharp competitors in the shape of BMW's muscular 340i M-Sport, the sleek Jaguar XE S, and Mercedes-AMG's cracking C43.
Our test example benefited from the ticking of four substantial option boxes, adding just over $16k to the price ticket. Specifically, pearl effect paint ($1846), a quattro sport differential ($2950), the 'Technik package' ($5600) and an 'S performance package' ($5900).
The Technik pack brings 'Audi Matrix LED headlights' and a host of other high-tech illumination gizmos, as well as a Bang & Olufsen 3D Sound System (19 speakers and 755 watt/16-channel amp), and a colour head-up display. While S performance adds man-made leather on the lower part of the centre console, door armrests and door pull handles, 'Carbon Atlas' inlays, Red 'S design' brake callipers, and 'S sport' front seats with diamond pattern stitched nappa leather and massage function.
Grand total - $116,196 before on-road costs; a decent number in this part of the market, delivering a heck of a lot of car for the money.
Did we mention the S4's 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 is all-new? Well, yes, it is, featuring direct injection, a single twin-scroll turbocharger sitting in the 90-degree vee at the top of the engine, as well as two-stage variable valve timing (on the intake side) working in conjunction with continuous camshaft adjustment.
It's a cheeky 14kg lighter than the supercharged 3.0-litre it replaces, and produces considerably more power and torque; 260kW at 5400–6400rpm, and a meaty 500Nm across an incredibly broad plateau from just 1370rpm, up to 4500.
From its immediate competitive set only the Merc-AMG C43's outputs are greater (270kW/520NM), but the beefy Benz tips the needle more than 100kg further up the scales.
The transmission is an eight-speed (torque converter) automatic, featuring 'Tiptronic' sequential shift, and Audi's 'Dynamic Shift Program' (DSP) offering a more aggressive 'Sport' mode.
Drive goes permanently to all four wheels via Audi's 'quattro' system incorporating a self-locking centre differential, which is a sexy unique selling point against its competitors.
Audi claims 7.7L/100km for the combined (urban/extra-urban) cycle, with a parallel C02 emissions figure of 175g/km.
In a graphic demonstration of the S4's ability to lure you into 'spirited' driving mode, we managed to double that consumption claim over a roughly 350km mix of city, suburban and freeway running, recording 15.2L/100km (courtesy of the on-board trip computer).
Minimum fuel requirement is 95RON premium unleaded, and you'll need to chug in 58 litres of it to fill the tank.
We're very happy to report - and still smiling about it days later - that the S4 is a brilliant drive.
From its deep well of silky smooth torque and an ultra-slick transmission to the raspy, popping exhaust note, this is a polished and engaging performance sedan.
It might look like 'just' a subtly tweaked Euro four-door, but 0-100km/h in 4.7sec is serious acceleration, and the S4 has the dynamic prowess to translate that forward thrust into monumental point-to-point ability.
Maximum torque from just 1370rpm, and the brilliant, adaptive eight-speed auto turns urban combat into an effortless and enjoyable diversion. And with all 500Nm on tap right up to 4500 revs, mid-range shove is linear and strong; more than welcome, and ample, for having a crack on your favourite backroad.
Suspension is managed by five links front and rear, and taut body control manages to live happily with exceptional ride comfort. It's not an easy combination to pull off, but Audi has nailed it.
The cabin is a model of ergonomic efficiency, with the 'Audi Virtual Cockpit' remaining the gold standard in terms of instrumentation.
The variable rate, electro-mechanical power steering delivers a satisfyingly connected road feel, the grippy sports front seat keeps you firmly planted without compromise to comfort, and big brakes (350mm ventilated discs with six-piston calipers up front) deliver progressive and consistent stopping power.
Thanks to the quattro AWD system, in this case supplemented by the optional sport diff, power down is exceptional, and grip from the high-performance 245/35 x 19 Hankook Ventus S1 Evo2 rubber is tenacious.
The cabin is a model of ergonomic efficiency, with the 'Audi Virtual Cockpit' remaining the gold standard in terms of instrumentation. Depending on mood and need it can be configured with dials of different size, and to highlight a massive range of on-board information. Want to set the sat nav screen as a large single view in the centre of the main binnacle? No problem.
The optional Bang & Olufsen mega sound system absolutely cranks, but on the subject of sound, the huge array of parking sensors around the car creates an absolute beep-fest (and annoyingly, lowers the audio system level) when you come within range of anything approximating a solid object at parking speeds. Yes, you can hit a button to (temporarily) shut it all down, but that's a pain. Whinge over.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
If you want to talk active safety, you've come to the right place.
As the result of its on-going and determined crash-avoidance campaign, Audi has equipped the S4 with an extensive range of active safety tech including auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection (detects impending collisions at up to 85 km/h and reduces speed by up to 40 km/h), 'Pre-sense front' (extended collision warnings up to maximum vehicle speed), 'Side Assist' (blind spot lane change warning plus detection of vehicles approaching rapidly from behind at the side), 'Pre-sense rear' (includes hazard flashing at high frequency to warn surrounding traffic), as well as 'Attention Assist' (warning tone and visual signal if the system senses the driver's attention may be lapsing), and a tyre pressure loss indicator.
Then throw in, 'Collision avoidance assist' (additional steering torque in critical situations where the driver initiates evasive action), 'Cross traffic assist rear' (guidance and warning when reversing out of a perpendicular parking space), 'Active lane assist' (corrective steering and wheel vibration), and 'Exit warning' (detects cars and cyclists when opening doors).
Plus a solid array of stability and braking aids including, ESC (with electronic wheel-selective torque control), ABS, ASR, EDL and Brake Assist.
But if all that isn't able to keep you out of trouble, passive features include an 'Active bonnet' to minimise pedestrian impact and injury, eight airbags (front, front and rear side, plus head level curtain covering front and rear passengers), and ISOFIX child restraint location points for the two outer rear seat positions.
Hardly a surprise, then, that the S4 rates a maximum five star ANCAP rating.
Audi offers a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty across its range, as well as three-year paint warranty, and 12 years cover for rust perforation.
Scheduled service is recommended every 12 months/15,000km, and the 'Audi Genuine Care Service Plan' covers scheduled servicing for three years/45,000km (whichever comes first) at a cost of $1620. Not bad at all.
|3.0 TFSI Quattro||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$79,090 – 90,860||2017 AUDI S4 2017 3.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs|
|3.0 TFSI Quattro||3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$73,590 – 84,590||2017 AUDI S4 2017 3.0 TFSI Quattro Pricing and Specs|
|3.0 TFSI Quattro Avant||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$81,620 – 93,830||2017 AUDI S4 2017 3.0 TFSI Quattro Avant Pricing and Specs|
|3.0 TFSI Quattro Avant||3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$75,790 – 87,120||2017 AUDI S4 2017 3.0 TFSI Quattro Avant Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||8|
“The S4 is a shining example of how a well-conceived and executed performance sedan can offer a good looking, highly equipped, practical and safe alternative to the now ubiquitous luxury SUV. And one that's far more enjoyable to drive. It's not only fast, but dynamically capable and well-priced, to boot. What a brilliant machine.”
Would you prefer a primo performance sedan like the Audi S4, over a go-fast SUV? Tell us what you think in the comments below.