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Audi A4 & S4


2 Audi S4s battling


Years Represented: 1997-2003
Class: Compact
Type: Sport Sedan

Country: Germany
Host: GT2, GT3, & GT4

Price: 39,730 (GT2) // 35,610 (GT4 used lot) // 55,430 (GT4 new lot)

*specs below are for 2st gen S4 models.

Body Construction: unit steel
Length: 176.3" // Width: 68.2" // Height: 55"
Wheelbase: 102.6"
Overhang: 6.15'
Track: 59" [F] 58.7" [R]
Ground Clearance: 6.1"
Weight: 3,238 lbs.

Layout: front engine / all-wheel drive
Tires: 225/45R-17
Front Suspension: 4-link / anti-roll bar / torsion bars?
R. Suspension: dbl wishbone / torsion bar / anti-roll bar
Brakes: vented discs + ABS

*specs below are for new 3rd-gen models in GT4

Length: 180.1" // Width: 70.1" // Length: 55.7"
Wheelbase: 104.4"
Overhang: 6 feet 5 inches
Track: 59.7" [F] 59.5" [R]
Ground Clearance:

Weight: 3,659 pounds
Steering: power-assisted rack & pinion
Turn radius: 37 feet 9 inches
Layout: Front Engine / All-wheel Drive
Tires: 235/40R-18y
Suspension: vented discs

Engine: 2.7 liter DOHC V6 (2nd gen)

Engine 4.2 liter DOHC V8 (3rd gen)

Construction: iron block / aluminum heads (2.7 V6)
``````````````````````aluminum block & heads (4.2 V8)

Aspiration: intercooled twin turbo or normal
Fuel Syst: sequential multi-point fuel inj.
Valves per Cyl: 5
Compression: 9.3:1 (2.7L v6), 11.1:1 (4.2L V8)
Bore x Stroke: 3.19 x 3.40" (2.7L V6), 3.33 x  3.65 (4.2L V8)

`````````````````````````GT2``````````````````GT4 2.8L V6`````````GT4 4.2L V8`
Tested HP:```
273 @ 5,700 (est.) ``` 260 @ 5,800     358 @ 7,000
Tstd Torque: 296 @ 2,000 ``````294 @1 850-3,600    318 @ 3,500
Lbs. per HP:       11.86                    12.80                     10.2
HP per Liter:       101.1                     97.3                     86.0
Credits / HP:      145.53                 136.69                 154.83

2.7L V6 Idle Speed: 750 rpms (GT4)
4.2L V8 Idle Speed: 1,000 rpms (GT4)

2.7L V6 Redline: 6,500 // RPM Limit: 7,000
4.2 V8 Redline: 7,000 // RPM Limit: 7,500
Transmission: 6-Speed Manual

``````````````````````` GT2 `````````````````````GT4-2.7L`````````````````GT4-4.2L
0-60 mph: 5.3 seconds            5.716 seconds           5.433 seconds
0-100mph: 15.4 seconds        15.462 seconds         12.716 seconds
0-150 mph:         na                      na                   32.866 seconds
400 M:    `14.125 @ 97 mph     14.952 @ 89            13.803 @ 104 mph
1 KM:
`````26.070 @ 127 mph   26.204 @ 127           24.757 @ 136 mph

Test Track:   1:41.453           2:25.794                     2:15.216

Top Gear RPM @ 60 mph: 1,800 (GT4)

Top Speed at Redline
1st: 31 mph
2nd: 62 mph
3rd: 95 mph
4th: 120 mph
5th: 146 mph
6th: 168.63 mph @ 6,600 rpm (GT2)
``````162.0 mph @ 6,250 rpm (GT4 2.7L V6)
``````174.89 mph @ 7,100 rpms (GT4 4.2L V8)



If you want a handsome, rather boring sedan that simply gets the job done, the Audi A4 or S4 could be just the car for you.

These cars first appeared in GT2. At first, Audi included two models: the A4 2.8L and the superior S4. In later games, the A4 got dropped. GT4 has S4s at both used and new lots, which represent two different generations. GT4 also includes some healthier "RS4" models as well.

There is nothing flashy about the S4 (and its lesser cousin the A4 2.8), nothing to feel embarassed about when you're in front of your parents or your Republican boss.
Compare these Audis to most any AWD Lancer Evolution or Impreza WRX, and you'll see what I mean. There's something ... well ...a bit juvenile about STis & Evos. On the Audi, there are no hood scoops, no wings, no air spoilers or fancy paint jobs (till 85 grand is dropped on the racing body in GT2) but don't let these lacks fool; these kraut-mobiles can compete just fine and will do so with little drama. Güten arbeiten, ja?

There aren't so many words about the S4 on the 'net (at least I couldn't find so many when I originally wrote this in 2004), but there are plenty on the A4, which is basically the same car with less power, slightly inferior tires and suspension parts, but also 176 less pounds. Real-life road testers of the A4 describe it as one that provides a smooth ride without sacrificing handling, and it seems this car rides on rails whether it's driven in real-life or in the game. The A4 is also nose-heavy, which some don't like, but this is due to their front engine/ all-wheel drive layout, of which many good things are to be said.

There are subtle differences between the two sedans of GT2: the S4 has what appears to be an extra something below the bumper. Could be an airflow device, could be cosmetic..I don't know. Also, the S4 has a small badge on its trunk that is missing from the A4, and has 6-spoke alloy wheels. (The A4 has 5-spoke wheels, not that it makes any difference). In America, the A4 was classified as a compact car somehow, even though its 2.8 liter V6 engine it only gets 17 mph in the city and 24 on the highways. Gaaah!

Either of these all-wheel drives start a bit on the heavy side, which you'll mostly notice as they tend to bounce around. One thing for sure: on the tracks of Gran Turismo, an unmodified S4 or A4 will schlepp around with a bit of understeer, but they will otherwise handle very well with lots of control. A couple of weight reductions and a better suspension will cure the bounciness, but beware! The more you modify the engine and stiffen the suspension, the more you'll notice the trunk of these sedans has a tendency to fly up when you hit bumps, since most of the weight is up front in that Quattro system. At Laguna Seca before the corkscrew or before the tunnel at Route 5 (these are just a couple examples) the rear of the car really starts to get chunky. This is something I'd expect from a Jaguar sedan...not so much from a nicely-balanced Audi.

There are lots of colors available (15 in all for the S4 and just 14 for the A4, oddly). Another odd thing is the price in GT2: the S4 costs $10,800 less than the A4 even though it has more power and doesn't have anything less so far as driver & passenger comforts go. Not that Polyphony Digital has a habit of being 100% accurate or anything...



---------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN---------------

In 1999 when GT2 was released, there were a couple engines offered in the A4: a 1.8 liter inline 4 cylinder and a 2.8 liter V6. The S4 gets a slightly smaller 2.7 liter V6 that creates 12 horsepower more than the Audi dealer quotes in this game. Woo hoo! 

In GT3, an S4 makes less than the dealer quotes (before break-in and oil change, anyways) at 261 quoted versus 253 starting. And in GT4, a first-gen S4 rates exactly the same from dealer to garage at 236 bhp @ 5,800 rpms with 244 foot-pounds from 1850 to 3600 rpms. It starts with less power in GT4 because it is now a used model, and needs servicing before the final HP of 260 is acheived.

Finally, the 3rd-generation S4 from Audi's new car lot has a 4.2 liter all-aluminum V8, rather than a smaller 6. It is normally-aspirated, cannot accept turbos, but oddly it CAN accept sports or racing intercoolers! At best, we can add up to 570 horses for this beast with a Stage 3 NA kit + racing parts (intercooler included). My only real criticism here is the tachometer. Audi S4 (and TT) tachs are typically short on redline, and the 7,000 rpm redline of the 4.2 V8 is no exception, since peak power shows up at 7,000 rpms, and you'll need to drive as far into the redline area as you can (which is just 500 rpms) to extract extra revs at times.

But let's back up for a mintue. Why is the S4's V6 engine smaller than the V6 from the A4? Well this is (finally) not a Polyphony goof. It is smaller because the S4 features a smaller bore and smaller (but stockier) pistons which are better able to handle the non-stop action blasting from those twin turbos. Twin turbos, folks... which are also smaller than a single turbo, and are used in an effort to eliminate turbo-lag. Audi has apparently managed to do this in real-life S4's, which stomp torque early on (very early at anywhere from 1,850 rpms to 2,000 depending which game you got) and deliver power smoothly through the rpms.

However, the peak rpm for an unmodified S4 engine is wrong in GT2, but correct in later games. The power grid clearly shows that peak power is at 5,800, not 7,000 as GT2 has. When you race, it's rather hard to notice that the engine is revving with more vigor in the mid-5,000 range, but it is. Keep this in mind, manual drivers.

...So let's talk about power upgrades.

If you like power (I'm assuming you do) go with the S4. The A4 isn't bad. In GT2, it can be pushed to 347 hp with 283 ft-lbs. of torque. With full upgrades, it also gets a 7,750 rpm redline, but Stage 3 power comes at a cost of $75,000. That's a net gain of 153 horses, or about 675 credits per horse!

The S4, on the other hand, can accept 4 levels of turbo action, a racing intercooler, and with the usual racing upgrades can be pushed all the way to 601 hp, which is a gain of 328 hp or about 324 credits per horse!!! Not bad for a yuppy sedan, no? In later games, the S4 still gets the juice represented by a Stage 4 intercooled turbo, but the used ones rate less for whatever reason, even though they are the same year & model as the cars in GT3 and GT4. GT4's S4 (the used ones) can "only" eke 545 bhp with 490 foot-pounds. I'm guessing that since GT4 features mileage, that these S4s with higher miles are supposed to have less power because their engines are also used.

The S4, with its high-tech AWD system, can handle the power, though at these levels the racing kit really helps with stability (GT2) You can also get a wing in GT4. Since we can't affix a kit or a wing in GT3, this car suffers the most at high speed, yet is still manageable.

The A4 has a 5-speed that is a bit tall (I track-tested it with an automatic tranny…couldn't even make it into 5th gear and maxed at just 149.23 mph). The closer gearboxes come in handy in lightly modified engines and are really only good at short-length tracks like Laguna Seca or Rome's short course. In real-life, the automatic is also a 5-speed and was designed by Porsche. The S4, on the other hand, has a 6-speed.

Ahhhh, now we're flying. This car approached 170 mph at the test track in GT2 before running out of steam at about 6,500 rpms, but a bit less (162 mph) in GT4. Any of the gearboxes can be used, depending on your level of power and the track you're at, but mostly I use the sports system.

Truthfully, I don't plan on racing my S4 too often. It's just not a very exciting car visually, even though you can do some amazing things with it.

2003 S4 4.2 liter gettin sideways at Suzuka.

-------------------CHASSIS / HANDLING--------------------

And speaking of amazing: these Audis won't disappoint here.

Doesn't matter if you're a fan of grip-style racing or drifting/sliding…either style can be employed as we race in Gran Turismo. The S4 and A4 are both at home whether you choose to race with clean lines, or if you like taking sideways (slideways) chances at every opportunity!

The real-life cars have electronic traction controls...which keeps power evenly distributed to all wheels at all times, yet will favor one wheel if it's the only one that's got traction. In addition, the S4 features locking Torsen differentials in real-life that can transmit up to 66% of power to the front or rear axles. As I race the S4, at times it genuinely does seem to be switching its power from front to rear and side to side, especially in GT4, though this could be my imagination. But then maybe not. Other people have noticed the changing behavior of S4s as well in these later games. Only in a car that has been heavily powered will we ever find this car breaking traction, which actually can be fun.

Control is this car's forté...it's easy to feel like a master behind the wheel. If you've got an A4 in GT2 with Stage 2 or 3 weight reduction, slick racing tires or anything more sophisticated than a semi-racing suspension should never be used. The S4 calls for more drastic parts, of course, since it can be rated with a lot more power! I raced an S4 in the Pure Sports Car Championship at Laguna Seca awhile back and won with sports tires & suspension, as well as my own self-imposed horsepower limit of 346 hp.

In GT4 on the other hand, the Audi S4 (either one) feels a bit less manageable than it does in earlier games, especially on any of the normal (N) tires. Here, the S4 is prone to slipping, oversteer, and can easily spin as weight gets transferred from rear to front. The brakes in this game are extremely effective (almost too effective) so the brake controller is recommended later on.

But shoe on those sports tires, and the margins get much wider as the S4 once again becomes a playful yet deadly machine at the tracks. Now we're allowed to get sideways most any time, yet can recover just as quickly back to the safety zone. I suspected the newer 2003 S4, with its larger engine, would be heavily prone towards understeer, but  was wrong. In this car (as well as the V6), understeer will really only plague poor drivers who brake too late or apply too much gas too early. For those who know better, the S4s in this game are very rewarding to drive.

Depending on which corner is about to be entered, attack will vary. For tight corners, we can brake late to middle-lateish (comparing to other typical modern GT autos). The car rides on such a stable platform and seems to have the perfect wheelbase for a sport sedan, meaning the front-end does its job with minimal diving, and the rear rarely gets loose under hard braking. In many cases, we can then start hitting the gas early. Carefully, but early...after perhaps a momentary coast thru a portion of whatever corner the S4 is attacking. Traction is always at a premium, and that Torsen system of limited-slips does a near-perfect job of positioning the car; allowing power to go where it's most needed just as the real-life versions are described.

Mixing tires is recommended for those who love trail-braking into these slower corners. With all S2s, the S4 feels balanced with a mixture of understeer and grip, but with harder tires in the rear, the front-end really starts to show its grippy nature. At times, we can even approach corners via steering-in hard and NO BRAKES. The S4 will simply dig in to the road like a stoner into a box of pizza, slide in hard, and grab its way out! Audi has spent the better part of the past 40 years getting all this stuff to work properly. They know what they're doing.

For larger curves where speed is needing to be maintained (rather than subtracted all at once) the S4 finally shows its weakness, as understeer is now featured on the menu. It's suddenly the main course on the menu, just the part we do NOT want to eat. Swapping those rear tires for a harder set helps, but not much. But no worries, because this is one of those autos that usually gets right back into its groove if fuel is momentarily released, sort of like a 4,000-pound slot car. 

Off-road, the S4 is also at home, even without help from differentials, although it is recommended to buy as many weight reductions and full-custom limited-slips here for more advanced events, as the S4 eventually starts to slide around too much.

So a rather ordinary, everyday car? Yes. But in any event, keep this in mind: ordinary doesn't always translate to stale.


1). The S4 has good power & torque to start with, and the A4 is no slacker, either. This engine feels sporty and even race-bred from the getgo.

2). The S4 can accept massive power overhauls at a reasonable price. You will crush in this car, no doubt.

3). 6-speed tranny in the S4.

4). Lots of color options available for either car.

5). Excellent handling & maneuverability, even unmodified. Very controllable like 90% of the time. Trail-braking, sliding, grip, drift...this car has it all (varies from game to game, tho).

6). Autobahn-worthy brakes.

7). Race-kit available in GT2.

8). Intercoolers available on the '03 Audi S4 in GT4, even tho it can't accept turbos.


1). The A4 (GT2) lacks top-end power. After spending over $106,000 on engine parts, it's not even pushing 350 hp; meanwhile, the S4 makes it to 601 hp for an equivalent amount of cash.

2). GT2: why is the A4 more costly than the S4??? In any event, both of these cars cost twice more than some Japanese AWD sedans.

3). GT2: The rear of either the A4 or the S4 tends to get sloppy once you've upgraded to a better suspension, and will sometimes need additional tweaking. Not a huge issue, but one to be aware of at certain tracks.

4). The A4's sports and semi-racing transmissions are useless on over half of GT2 circuits, unless you don't mind the engine revving out down straightaways.

5). Limited redline area.

6). Understeer eventually becomes a serious issue in later games (GT3 & 4) as you raise the power. So does rear-end dancing in GT4 when braking from high speeds.

7). GT4 features both newer and older S4's. The less-expensive older ones are in the used car lot. Sometimes they're not available for weeks. Newer ones are costly, and at 35-ish thousand.

8). Sorry, I just find these Audis rather dull, too polished, and too suburban. No flair. Even the race-kits in GT2 are a bit ordinary.

Orginally published: December 16, 2004
RE-Edited: September 28, 2008


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