The 2020 Audi S4 is a bona fide sport sedan. While it comes with plenty of power, superb grip and remarkable driving dynamics, it also offers supportive and comfortable seats, fine cabin materials, generous passenger space and tech features like a fabulous Bang & Olufsen audio system. As has been the sport sedan formula for years now, the S4 is all about performance and day-to-day livability.
While it isn’t all-new, the S4 gets a face-lift for 2020, which is typically done halfway through a vehicle’s life cycle. In the case of the S4, these changes consist of slightly different exterior styling and a new infotainment system.
The S4 is positioned above the entry-level A4, but below the top-spec RS 4, which traditionally hasn’t been offered in the United States and likely won’t be this time around either. Audi’s A5 is essentially a 2-door A4, and is offered in coupe, convertible and Sportback bodystyles, the latter being a more aggressively styled 4-door with coupelike styling elements. S5 versions of all three are offered, while the coupe and Sportback get RS 5 variants as well.
The regular A4, along with the A4 Allroad and all variations of the A5, will be reviewed separately.
What’s New for 2020?
Along with the greater A4 line, the S4 gets a mid-life cycle face-lift for 2020. The grille, headlights and front bumper all wear updated styling, as do the taillights and the rear bumper. The door panels have also been revised to give the visual effect of the vehicle having a lower beltline. Functional changes on the inside include a new infotainment system, which Audi is billing as MIB 3, and a new Audi Connect services system, which allows you to subscribe to a 4G LTE connection provided by Verizon for in-vehicle internet access. See the 2020 Audi S4 models for sale near you
What We Like
- About as much power as one could reasonably want
- Typically polished Audi styling
- Taught suspension, dialed in driving dynamics — this is a true sport sedan.
What We Don’t
- Price climbs quickly when you add basic options
- Otherwise common driver assistance features are limited to top trims
- Why are rear-side airbags only optional?
A turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 endows the S4 with 349 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission sends power to all four wheels. Steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters let you get more involved with gear shifts, but only when you want to.
The Environmental Protection Agency rates the 2020 S4 at 20 miles per gallon in the city, 27 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg in combined driving.
Standard Features & Options
The 2020 Audi S4 premium compact sports sedan is available in Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels.
The Premium ($50,895) comes with 18-in alloy wheels, a sport suspension, a panoramic sunroof, full LED exterior lighting, rain-sensing wipers, heated side mirrors, heated windshield washer nozzles, keyless entry/ignition, front/rear parking sensors, selectable driving modes, tri-zone automatic climate control, ambient LED cabin lighting, a self-dimming rearview mirror, forward-collision warning, leather/Alcantara (simulated suede) upholstery, 12-way power-adjustable heated front seats with pneumatic side bolsters and massage functionality, an integrated garage door opener, a 10.1-in display for the infotainment system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, Bluetooth, HD radio, a 10-speaker audio system, two SD card slots and two USB ports.
The Convenience package adds blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert and vehicle exit warning, rear collision mitigation, Advanced Key (with engine start/stop and trunk opening functions), heated auto-dimming sideview mirrors, driver’s side memory settings, a 90-day satellite radio subscription and an alarm system with motion sensors.
The Premium Plus ($53,395) has the Advanced Key as standard, plus the Virtual Cockpit (a 12.3-in configurable driver information display), driver’s side memory settings, power-folding sideview mirrors, Wi-Fi, navigation, front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, rear collision mitigation, satellite radio, wireless charging and a phone signal booster.
Premium Plus models can be optioned with a number of packages, including a Black optic package ($1,400), an S Sport package that includes a sport-tuned adaptive suspension, a sport rear differential and red brake calipers ($2,500), a cold weather package ($500), a warm weather package ($650), a driver assist package that comes with full-speed adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist ($1,500), Navigation ($1,600), Nappa leather ($1,000), dynamic steering, Bang & Olufsen audio and more.
The Prestige ($59,345) adds Matrix-design LED headlights, navigation, handwriting recognition for controlling the infotainment system, a head-up display, enhanced LED interior lighting, adaptive cruise control with Traffic Jam Assist, active lane-keeping assist, automatic high beams, road sign recognition, a top-view camera system and the 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system.
Options available on the Prestige trim include the Black Optic package, S Sport package, Cold and Warm weather packages, Dynamic steering, Nappa leather and more.
Oddly, rear-side airbags are a $350 option across the board.
Trunk space is 13 cu ft., enough for three sets of golf clubs.
In an era where a $20,000 Toyota Corolla offers just about all of the active safety tech you could want as standard, Audi’s approach to active safety seems stingy. Automatic emergency braking comes standard, but other features like blind spot monitoring, radar cruise control, lane-keeping assist and the rest are either optional or reserved to upper trim levels.
In crash testing, the regular A4 was awarded five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with four out of five stars for both the front impact and side impact protection tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the A4 a Top Safety Pick after it aced all the major crash test categories.
Behind the Wheel
The S4 is a good balance of performance and sensibility. While its lack of an RS badge implies mid-tier positioning with regard to performance, the S4 is still about as much car as anyone could reasonably want for day-to-day driving.
In most conditions, the S4’s all-wheel-drive system sends 60% of power to the rear wheels for a sporty feel. If circumstances dictate, up to 85% can be sent to either end within milliseconds. The optional sport differential can even split that torque between wheels on the same axle, lending more support to get around a corner.
Body control is superb. The car manages to remain flat even in fast turns. Step on the brakes and the S4 decelerates in a confident, calm and composed manner. If there was one little gripe, it’s that the steering could be more tactile.
Everything is hushed and businesslike in the S4’s cabin, where only a muted bark from high engine revs might make a driver momentarily forget the high quality of the surrounding materials. Passenger space, meanwhile, is perfectly adequate.
Audi’s new MIB 3 infotainment system is a welcome addition and should keep the S4 feeling fresh in this era of rapid software advancement. The digital Virtual Cockpit system replaces the usual driver’s gauges with a large screen that displays navigation, media and vehicle information and requires little time and effort to learn how to use. It’s a novel feature that most will enjoy.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Genesis G70 — If you’re considering an Audi over a BMW or Mercedes, chances are you like to be a little different. So why not be all the way different and opt for the G70, which offers all the performance of the S4 for as much as $15,000 less.
Used Audi S6 — Competing a class up from the A4 in terms of size, performance, and equipment, a gently used 2013-2018 S6 can be had for well under the cost of a new S4. Check out Audi’s certified pre-owned program.
Even with consistent updates over the years, the S4 is a known quantity. It offers good power, great performance and a comfortable cabin. Ideal for the commuter who only on occasion will have back seat passengers, the S4 is on the smaller side, but for anyone who likes to drive and knows they want a sedan, it’s unlikely to disappoint. A Premium Plus model with the Driver Assistance package will probably satisfy most buyers. Find an Audi S4 for sale