When is 333 hp more than 333 hp? When it's in an Audi S4 and max power seems to be on tap from 0 to 7,000 rpm. I'll recite my text to Andy on the Saturday that I had the car out and about: "Damn, this car is good."
First of all, it's gorgeous in "Hello, Officer" red and it seems to be just the right size, offering a decent amount of room in the back seat with scalloped front buckets, a giant trunk -- I threw three bags of clothes in there for the Salvation Army and had space for four more -- and enough width that your elbows won't rub when you have a front-seat passenger.
The Google Earth navigation is cool, showing you the satellite view along with the roads and traffic. The radio/entertainment system works well except for the lack of a frickin' USB port! This S4 still has the proprietary cord in the glove box; in this loaner, it was equipped for an iPhone4. Bluetooth works fine though, and it only took me a minute or two to set up. That's one of those things that you only have to do once, but it's nice when it's an easy process. And surely new cars off the lot would come with a connection for whatever phone you have, but still. Rear visibility is good; anything you can't see is picked up by the rearview camera.
When I first sat down in the car, I thought the clutch pedal was a little ? sticky. It didn't pop up as fast as I like. But once the engine was started, I found it nearly perfect, catching about halfway up with a good-sized slip point. If that point is too small, it's hard to take off smoothly; if it's too big, it feels like you're just burning the clutch all day. Hard launches are easy and so are super smooth shifts once you're at speed. The stickshift, too, is just the right size -- between a baseball and a golf ball -- and the action is direct and confidence inspiring. I made a ton of full throttle shifts over the weekend and didn't miss a single one.
The brakes catch right away and the gas pedal is easy to reach for heel-toe shifting. It's one of the best pedal boxes in the business, hands down.
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