One of the toughest challenges for the next Audi S4 will be outperforming its smaller brother, the S3. When we tested the all-new S3 last year, we discovered, to our surprise, that it was actually quicker than the outgoing, ?B8?-generation S4 (pictured above), despite having two fewer cylinders and producing 41 fewer horsepower. That?s not the way Audi?s carefully stratified model hierarchy is supposed to work, and the main reason we?re certain that the new car?which we will probably see next year as a 2017 model?will be considerably quicker.
The new 2017 A4?s gently evolved styling will hold true for the S4; imagine the former with big wheels, silver side-mirror caps; and those so-tiny-you-have-to-squint badges and you already know what it will look like. Audi sources have indicated that the next car will stick with a V-6 engine, and it?s been suggested that this will be an evolved version of the last car?s supercharged powerplant rather than a less potent version of the twin-turbocharged V-6 that will power the next RS4 (and we believe also an RS5 Sportback). Power output will almost certainly jump?we anticipate to north of 350 horsepower versus the current model?s 333?putting some clear space between the S4 and the forthcoming 320-hp BMW 340i sedan.
Quattro all-wheel drive will once again be standard, while the only certain transmission option is an S tronic?branded seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. We asked about a manual option for the go-fast versions of the A4 at that car?s press debut, but we were told it would all be down to market demand. Outside the U.S. there will be both sedan and Avant wagon versions of the S4, but we?d be surprised if the wagon ever makes it here. Start lobbying your local Audi dealer now on that one if you want it to happen.