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Valentine One Radar Detector

Eric
03-09-2007, 09:53 AM
If you're a fan of those "Transporter" movies, a sophisticated bruiser like the Audi S4 ultra-performance sedan has to be high on your lust list. Fitted leather driver's gloves. Custom-tailored Armani suit. Real-deal $500 shades -- not those cheap knock-off "Ray Bans" you pick up at 7-11.

Ok, those extras aren't included in the $47,500 base price of the '07 S4 sedan. But you do get other essential equipment for "Transporter" style adventures.

First, there's the 4.2 liter, 340 horsepower aluminum V-8 that's the centerpiece of the package -- cherry picked from the larger A6 and A8 sedans and tucked into the smaller, lighter (and therefore, faster) A4-series chassis.

To squeeze that big car engine into a small car's engine bay -- a space originally designed to house, at most, a middling-size V-6 -- some fairly serious mods were required, including a redesign of the drive mechanism for the camchains. In the S4, the 4.2 V-8's cams are not turned by a front-mounted cambelt, as per usual (and as in the A6 and A8). Instead, the cams are turned by compact chains mounted on the rear of the block. Accessories like the water pump are offset, too. These revisions cut down the overall length of the engine by about 2 inches, allowing it to fit -- though just barely. (Thank the Motor Gods for 100,000 mile spark plugs -- and for being cash-fat enough to pay someone else to deal with it when the time comes.)

The S4's prodigious 340 hp (which outguns the BMW M3's 333-hp) is routed through either a standard six-speed manual gearbox or six-speed Tiptronic automatic with full manual/Sport mode that permits driver control of up and downshifts. The stick version is wonderful -- but so is the automatic, as is often true when there's abundant torque on hand (302 lbs.-ft., in this case). It's simply not necessary to work the engine -- or run through the gears frantically -- to get that "hand of God" forward thrust.

This car can reach 60 mph in 5.2-5.3 seconds -- with Autobahn top speeds (150-plus) available whenever you need it. A BMW M3 can match those numbers, but it drives quite differently; the Beemer has a more frenetic personality, a consequence of having two less cylinders, a peakier powerband -- and mandatory manual transmission. Maybe the Beemer's more of a "purist's" machine -- but it's also more work. The S4 goes just as quickly, but does so without the dramatics (and frankly, more decorum). If you want to get noticed -- by other drivers and cops alike -- the M3's more your speed. But if you're a Transporter type and want to move fast with discretion -- the S4's where it's at.

Further evidence of the Audi's philosophy of controlled fury is the standard Quattro all-wheel-drive system (vs. the rear-drive that's common in this segment). Instead of showy but pointless tire-frying launches, the S4 simply moves out with argument-ending prowess -- letting the speedometer needle's rapid sweep to the right of the scale tell the story.

The system is, however, biased 60-40 to the rear wheels, which was done to give the car the same kind of launch feel and "throttle steer" capability you'd get in a rear-drive sport sedan -- but with the superior off-the-line traction and handling tenacity of AWD.

Dry and even wet weather lateral grip is extremely high -- and again, more linear, predictable and controllable than the typical rear-drive performance sedan when run really hard. Pass a cop on a curve in an M3 with your tail hanging out and rear tires skittering -- and he's going to notice. Hit the same curve at the same speed in an S4 and there's less obvious holliganism for him to draw a bead on. Unless you're going silly fast, that immediate red flag of recognition that leads straight to a "wig-wag light 180" (and you by the side of the road trying to explain yourself to the cop) may not trigger. Or at the least, you'll have that extra second of relative invisibility to cut your speed before it all goes sour. That can be all the difference between a minor talking-to/warning/trivial ticket -- and a possible reckless driving beef.

Given the S4's aggressive sport tires (40-series rubber on 18x8-inch rims) and hunkered low chassis, this is not, however, a car optimized for snow and winter-weather driving -- despite the built-in advantage of AWD. Still, it's probably a little bit better in that environment than a rear-drive Beemer M3 or Lexus IS350 -- though any car of this type is best left home when the snowplows are out.

What else?

Audi interiors are among the most handsomely executed in the business -- and the S4's unique touches add menace to style, creating an ambiance of tailored threat that's like a meeting with the senior partners of a Wall Street law firm. These are not men to be taken lightly.

And neither is the S4.

You'll enjoy the firm cocoon of Recaro sport buckets with suave-looking Alacantra sued inserts (unique to the S4), jet-fighter-style red/orange backlighting for the gauges and brushed metal trim. An in-dash navigation system ($1,950) is one of the few big ticket items that doesn't come with the car as it sits.

You can also order a DTM exterior enhancement kit ($1,500) that includes carbon fiber front and rear spoilers. Gray Birch or carbon fiber beltline accents are also available.

A final point worth mentioning is that Audi offers the S4 in multiple bodystyles -- sedan, sportwagon and four-seat convertible coupe. BMW's M3 currently comes only in coupe and convertible forms; ditto the Lexus IS350 (and GS), Benz C55 AMG, Caddy CTS-V and most other performance/prestige/price/size-equivalent competitors.

It's nice to have so many choices -- like opening up one of those all-metal suitcases and pondering which piece to select for the job. Will it be the full-frame .45 auto? Or perhaps the snub-nosed .38?

Audi lets you pick your weapon.

If there's a downside to this car, I didn't notice it.

So -- what's in the package? Don't ask.

Just drive.

END

dBrong
03-11-2007, 10:56 AM
You know the Europeans are comming around. Although they can crank out a decent amount of power from a 6 (even a 4), notice Audi & Volvo are now offering 8's. Although my S80-T6 is plenty fast, I'd rather have an 8, than two turbo's - cause they are expensive if they need to be replaced.

Alas, its sounds like the perfect car for males with a midlife crisis, as we are the ones who can afford them. I'd just love to have one, I can afford it - but I'd never be able to talk my wife into it.

It's sorta the same problem as the high end audio stuff - the WAF - wife accepance factor.

Eric
03-12-2007, 08:30 PM
You know the Europeans are comming around. Although they can crank out a decent amount of power from a 6 (even a 4), notice Audi & Volvo are now offering 8's. Although my S80-T6 is plenty fast, I'd rather have an 8, than two turbo's - cause they are expensive if they need to be replaced.

Alas, its sounds like the perfect car for males with a midlife crisis, as we are the ones who can afford them. I'd just love to have one, I can afford it - but I'd never be able to talk my wife into it.

It's sorta the same problem as the high end audio stuff - the WAF - wife accepance factor.


Amen - I hear you!

Kwozzie1
03-15-2007, 02:21 AM
Sure a big change from the smokey 2 stroke Auto Unions we used to get in NZ...

Auto Union (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Au1000s_62%2BF91.jpg)

I was keen on buying one of the rotary engined RO80 which stemmed from NSU a company that ended up with Audi

NSU Ro80 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSU_Ro_80)

Fortunately I did not buy one.....
Unfortunately they were very unreliable!!

Eric
03-15-2007, 09:20 AM
Indeed!

Audi is now on par with Benz and BMW and other premium brands...

Dave Brand
03-15-2007, 10:59 AM
Sure a big change from the smokey 2 stroke Auto Unions we used to get in NZ...


The 1000SP coupe was a pretty car!

http://www.dyna.co.za/cars/AU_1000SP_Blue.jpg