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September 3, 2013

Audi S4 matches strong performance with luxury sedan

While there is something to be said for the throaty sound of a Mustang Cobra throttling along in traffic lanes, there is a surprising similarity in performance with the new breed of Audi S4 sport sedans.

The German car company has been carving out its nameplate for decades and has earned its stripes as a luxury sedan that can handle performance with the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

At the turn of the Nineteenth Century, Audi founder August Horch -- who was later banned from his company in a shareholder dispute -- would have marveled at how his fledgling company back in the 1880s has evolved into one of the Big Three in German automotive manufacturing.

The first Audi automobile, a Type A Sport-Phaeton, was produced in 1910 followed by a series of setbacks. Present-day owner Volkswagen unveiled the 1965 DKW F102, which had a short lifespan and was replaced three years later with the hugely successful Audi 100, built in its present production facility in Ingolstadt.

And, here's an interesting history lesson: The familiar front grille, with its four interlinked rings, pays tribute to the original four companies that pledged their support back in the day.

The real fun of the S4 is in the driver's seat, where it really shines. "Point and shoot" best describes how the 333 horsepower supercharged V6 handles the pavement. With all-wheel-drive and a 40/60 torque split, the S4 delivers exhilaration with a manual six speed that seems to know no boundaries.

In sixth gear, the overdrive gear maintains a strong highway presence while achieving 26 miles per gallon of recommended premium fuel.

Downshift a few gears and the tame throttle turns the docile sedan into a racer capable of competing with the BMW 335i and closing in on Mercedes Benz C63 AMG. Off-the-line power is breathtaking as it propels the S4 to 60 miles per hour in 4.9 seconds.

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