2019 Volkswagen GTI vs. 2019 Audi S4

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the GTI 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, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, post-collision automatic braking systems, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

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 GTI 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.

Warranty

The GTI 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 GTI’s warranty.

Reliability

The Volkswagen GTI’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 GTI gets better fuel mileage than the S4:

MPG

GTI

Manual

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

24 city/32 hwy

Auto

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

25 city/31 hwy

S4

Auto

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

21 city/30 hwy

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the GTI Automatic’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.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Volkswagen GTI higher (7 out of 10) than the Audi S4 (5). This means the GTI produces up to 8 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the S4 every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

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

The GTI 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 GTI 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 GTI’s turning circle is 2.3 feet tighter than the S4’s (35.8 feet vs. 38.1 feet).

Chassis

The Volkswagen GTI may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 600 to 800 pounds less than the Audi S4.

The GTI is 1 foot, 6.8 inches shorter than the S4, making the GTI easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Cargo Capacity

The GTI has a larger trunk with its rear seat up than the S4 (22.8 vs. 13 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

To improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the GTI 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 GTI Rabbit/SE/Autobahn’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 GTI Autobahn’s Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The S4 doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Recommendations

The GTI 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 GTI as their 2015 Car of the Year. The S4 has never been chosen.

The GTI was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” for 5 of the last 12 years. The S4 has never been an “All Star.”

The GTI was selected by Automobile Magazine as their 2010 Car of the Year. The S4 has never been chosen.

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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