2019 Volkswagen Golf R vs. 2019 Audi S4

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Over 200 people are killed each year when backed over by motor vehicles. The Golf R has standard Maneuver Braking that uses rear sensors to monitor and automatically apply the brakes to prevent a rear collision. The S4 doesn’t offer backup collision prevention brakes.

Both the Golf R and the S4 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, all wheel drive, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Golf R the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 155 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The S4 has not been tested, yet.


The Golf R comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The S4’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 22000 miles sooner.

There are over 2 times as many Volkswagen dealers as there are Audi dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Golf R’s warranty.


The Volkswagen Golf R’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the S4’s engine uses an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Volkswagen vehicles are better in initial quality than Audi vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volkswagen 24th in initial quality. With 2 more problems per 100 vehicles, Audi is ranked 25th.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the Golf R Auto gets better fuel mileage than the S4 (23 city/30 hwy vs. 21 city/30 hwy).

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Golf R Auto’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The S4 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Volkswagen Golf R uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The S4 requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.


The Golf R offers a manual transmission for better acceleration, control and fuel economy. The S4 doesn’t offer a manual transmission.

The Golf R offers an optional sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The S4 doesn’t offer an SMG.

Tires and Wheels

The Golf R has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the S4; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

For better maneuverability, the Golf R’s turning circle is 2.3 feet tighter than the S4’s (35.8 feet vs. 38.1 feet).


The Volkswagen Golf R may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 500 to 550 pounds less than the Audi S4.

The Golf R is 1 foot, 6.4 inches shorter than the S4, making the Golf R easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.


To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the Golf R has a standard rear wiper. The S4 doesn’t offer a rear wiper.

The S4’s cornering lamps activate a lamp on the front corner when the turn signal is activated. The Golf R’s standard adaptive cornering lights turn the actual headlight unit up to several degrees, depending on steering wheel angle and vehicle speed. This lights a significant distance into corners at any speed.


The Golf was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 13 of the last 13 years. The S4 has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

Motor Trend selected the Golf as their 2015 Car of the Year. The S4 has never been chosen.

The Golf R was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2016. The S4 has never been an “All Star.”

The Volkswagen Golf/GTI outsold the Audi A4/S4 by 22% during 2018.

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

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