The 2010 Esquire Car of the Year
Car awards are even more subjective. Numbers and stats are starting points, but we believe that the Esquire Car of the Year should make you feel something deep in your gut. You should lust for it and dream about it, but it shouldn't be an impossible goal. And we have come to a conclusion: The Esquire Car of the Year is the 2010 Audi S4
. Somewhere, some engineer has a picture of this thing in his wallet, right next to his wife and kids. It's a triumph. It's the Esquire Car of the Year. Source: Sam Smith
The Audi S4
is the most joyous, breathtaking, sophisticated (and, get this: attainable) car you can buy.
As the automobile has evolved over the past century, so has our ability to measure its talents. Somewhere someone has stuck a computerized, white-coat-verified test instrument on the vehicle of your choice, and its performance has been recorded. Speed, grip, handling, even the timbre of an engine's howl — we can measure that stuff down to a fraction, far past the bounds of argument or sanity. And yet this misses the point. Cars are subjective, emotional things. Car awards are even more subjective. Numbers and stats are starting points, but we believe that the Esquire Car of the Year
should make you feel something deep in your gut. You should lust for it and dream about it, but it shouldn't be an impossible goal. It must be attainable for the average man. It should sit in front of your house or office without drawing attention to itself and tackle four seasons of day-to-day transportation with ease. Yet crucially, sometimes, without warning, it must make you snatch the keys off the wall, haul off to the country and just drive. We did just that, for hundreds of miles. We carved up mountain roads, slogged through traffic, blasted down interstates. And we have come to a conclusion: The Esquire Car of the Year is the 2010Audi S4
Just ten years ago, picking an Audi
would have been a stretch. Following more than a decade of inconsistent sales and faced with flourishing competition and few outstanding cars, the brand was badly in need of reinvention. So it reinvented itself. Audi
eyed the market, spotted a few holes, and set about filling them. In typical German fashion, this meant doing more than necessary, and doing it better than anyone else.
Several surprises emerged over the next decade — development cycles in the car industry are not short — all of which were designed to reshape the company's image and let its engineers flex their muscles. First, their 200-mph prototypes began romping all comers at the twenty-four-hour Le Mans endurance race. The R8
arrived in 2007, offering Ferrari flash and power and sex for half the price — in an Audi
. And then came the A5 coupe
, which won awards for its slinky sheet metal and showed that the company was taking style seriously.
Finally, there's the biggest surprise of all, the 2010 S4
The ingredients aren't groundbreaking. The S4
name has been around for almost twenty years, and the basic blueprint — four driven wheels, a nimble chassis, grin-inducing power — dates back to Audi
's pioneering 1983-1986 Quattro coupe. To the layman, this is an ordinary machine, lacking the sheet-metal bulges or visual testosterone of a hot BMW or Mercedes-Benz. If it weren't for that horse-collar grille and those sinister headlights, you could be looking at a taxi on a starvation diet. To call it unassuming is an understatement — one reason we love it.
The previous S4
played the aggression game, offering a tamer face but chunkier, more purposeful bodywork. Its engine, a 4.2-liter lump of a V-8 that snarled and rumbled like a bear in heat, served up 340 hp in booming, raw lunges. It rode harshly, pitching and bobbing over battered pavement. That S4
sold well, but it seemed to simultaneously abuse you and beg for approval. When word got out that Audi
was redesigning the car for 2010, no one expected the mold to be broken.
But break it did. For starters, the V-8 is gone, replaced by a new direct-injected and supercharged 3.0-liter V-6. The supercharger is a twin-rotor unit made by Eaton, the same company that supplies the blower for Chevrolet's 638-hp Corvette ZR1. It sits in the engine's V and more than makes up for the two deleted cylinders, allowing the six to produce just seven fewer ponies than the eight while being lighter and more compact. Torque — the seat-of-the-pants shove you feel every time you stab the right pedal — rises from 302 to 325 pound-feet. Fuel economy goes through the roof, from 21 mpg to 28 mpg. Floor the throttle, you get a whopping shove in the back, no waiting. With the standard six-speed manual, 60 mph arrives in just 4.9 seconds, or only slightly longer than it takes to say the words holy and shit with elongated vowels. (This bests the old S4
by almost half a second, which proves the added torque wasn't wasted.)
But the real achievement is the way that engine is blended into the Audi's
whole. Gone is the look-at-me beast of old. The new S4
is as confident and mature as other sport sedans are loud and insecure. The front axle has been shifted six inches forward, increasing the wheelbase and boosting both highway stability and ride comfort. The standard all-wheel drive goes about its business discreetly, helping the Audi
go where you point it, no matter the weather. The steering is light around town, the engine's growl so quiet, you have to open the windows to really hear it. This is a car for grown-ups. It's easy to live with.
That's fine, you think, but what about the weekends? Everyone has moments when they tear into the hills, driving for the hell of it. There must be some sacrifice.
Hardly. In the city, the S4
is a sedate, relaxed express, filling in potholes and blending into traffic. On a back road, cut loose, it sharpens. This is different from the usual fast four-door buzz. The Audi
is alert and precise but never ragged or unhinged. Push harder and you're rewarded with eye-watering grip and livelier steering, but the unflappable composure remains. If you are a good driver, the S4
works to make you better. If you are a great one (and aren't we all?), it steps aside and eggs you on.Click here
for the full article
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