2018 Audi S4 vs. 2017 Volkswagen GTI

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Audi S4 have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Volkswagen GTI doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The S4’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The GTI doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The S4’s standard pretensioning seatbelts also sense rear collisions and remove slack from the seatbelts to help protect the occupants from whiplash and other injuries. The GTI doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The S4 has all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The GTI doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The S4 Prestige has a standard Top and Corner View Cameras to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The GTI only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

The S4 offers an optional SOS telematics system, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The GTI doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the S4 and the GTI have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The Audi S4 weighs 622 to 827 pounds more than the Volkswagen GTI. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

The S4 comes with a full 4 year/50,000 mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24 hour roadside assistance. The GTI’s 3 year/36,000 mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2016 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 11th in reliability, above the industry average. With 35 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 25th.

Engine

The S4’s 3.0 turbo V6 produces 144 more horsepower (354 vs. 210) and 111 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 258) than the GTI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The S4’s 3.0 turbo V6 produces 134 more horsepower (354 vs. 220) and 111 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 258) than the GTI Sport/SE/Autobahn’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

The S4 has 2.1 gallons more fuel capacity than the GTI (15.3 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is standard on the Audi S4, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the GTI.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the S4’s brake rotors are larger than those on the GTI:

 

S4

GTI

GTI Sport/SE/Autobahn

Front Rotors

13.8 inches

12.3 inches

13.4 inches

Rear Rotors

13.1 inches

10.7 inches

12.2 inches

The S4’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs standard on the GTI are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the S4 has larger tires than the GTI (245/40R18 vs. 225/40R18).

The S4’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 35 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the GTI’s 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the S4 offers optional 19-inch wheels. The GTI’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

Suspension and Handling

The S4 has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The GTI’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the S4’s wheelbase is 7.6 inches longer than on the GTI (111.2 inches vs. 103.6 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the S4 is 1 inch wider in the front and 1.2 inches wider in the rear than on the GTI.

Chassis

The design of the Audi S4 amounts to more than styling. The S4 has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .29 Cd. That is lower than the GTI (.31) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the S4 get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

The S4 has .5 inches more front headroom, .1 inches more front legroom, .1 inches more rear legroom and .6 inches more rear shoulder room than the GTI.

Cargo Capacity

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the S4 offers cargo security. The GTI’s hatchback body style, non-lockable folding seat and non-lockable remote release defeat cargo security.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the S4 is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the GTI. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

A maintenance reminder system is standard on the S4 to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals for oil changes based on odometer mileage. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Volkswagen doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the GTI.

Ergonomics

When two different drivers share the S4, the memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position and outside mirror angle. The GTI doesn’t offer a memory system.

The S4 Prestige has a standard heads-up display which projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The GTI doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The S4’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The GTI S/Sport’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The S4 has standard headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The GTI doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The S4 has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The GTI has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the SE/Autobahn.

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the S4 Prestige detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The GTI doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the S4 has standard extendable sun visors. The GTI doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The S4 has standard automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The GTI offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

Both the S4 and the GTI have standard heated front seats. The S4 also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the GTI.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the S4 keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in Summer. The GTI doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold Winter days, the S4’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The GTI doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The S4 has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the GTI Autobahn.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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