The base turbocharged 2.0-liter sees its output bumped from 211 to 220 hp, while base 2014 Audi A4 models are now fitted with the convenience package -- which includes Bluetooth, Homelink, and iPod/USB audio inputs -- as standard equipment. A sporty S-Line exterior package is now bundled with A4 Premium Plus and Prestige models, as is a new eighteen-inch, ten-spoke RS-design aluminum wheel. Audi's Drive Select system, which alters steering, throttle response, and shift points, is now included with the optional A4 Sport package and is standard on all S4 models...
In North America, the Audi A4 was the brand's longtime entry-level model, but the sedan has grown larger over time. As the A4 has grown in size, it has also grown in maturity. Today's car is less of an entry-level proposition as it is a stylish luxury vehicle that's also reasonably affordable. Although an A4 Cabriolet convertible and an A4 Avant station wagon were once offered, they were spun into separate model lines -- the A5/S5 and Allroad, respectively -- leaving the A4/S4 name for four-door sedans.
In theory, the 2014 Audi A4 and S4 have it wrong. An engine placed ahead of the front axle? Front-wheel drive on base models? What's all this about a continuously variable transmission? Thankfully, both cars are much more than the sum -- or static description -- of their parts.
Predictably, the most enjoyable model is the 2014 Audi S4. Although it technically competes against the BMW 335i, the Mercedes-Benz C350, the Infiniti Q50, and the Cadillac ATS 3.6, it does so with a visual flair usually reserved for higher-end high-performance models. Order an S4 in volcano red with the new Black Optic package, and you won't fail to turn heads. You also won't fail to entertain yourself, thanks to a sonorous 333-hp supercharged V-6 that packs a torque-laden punch low in the rev band and serves immediate throttle response. Shift throws on the standard six-speed manual transmission are short, slick, and crisp, and even the optional automatic -- a seven-speed dual-clutch unit -- offers lightning-fast gearchanges that entertain even the most erudite purveyor of manual transmissions. Better yet, Audi's optional sport differential, which can shift torque between the rear wheels during cornering, helps the understeer-prone S4 feel surprisingly neutral and agile.
The four-cylinder 2014 Audi A4 can certainly look sporty, thanks to a number of available S-Line and Sport design packages, but it's generally geared more toward touring. The 2.0T offers plenty of spunk, at least when paired with a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission. We recommend skipping the uninspiring CVT/front-wheel-drive model altogether. Both the A4 and the S4, however, impress with an incredibly well crafted cabin that feels roomier and airier than those of the BMW 3 Series and the Cadillac ATS. We like the way the 2014 Audi A4 drives, but if you truly love to drive, you'll want to pony up for the S4.
- Acura TL
- BMW 3 Series
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