2020 Audi S4 vs. 2020 Volkswagen GTI

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/02/18

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.

Both the S4 and GTI 4dr have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The S4 has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The GTI’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

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.

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, crash mitigating brakes, 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 611 to 785 pounds more than the Volkswagen GTI. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

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The S4’s corrosion warranty is 5 years and unlimited miles longer than the GTI’s (12/unlimited vs. 7/100,000).

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Audi vehicles are better in initial quality than Volkswagen vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 22nd in initial quality. With 7 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 25th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 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 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 7 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volkswagen is ranked 12th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Volkswagen vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Audi 13 places higher in reliability than Volkswagen.

Engine

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The S4’s 3.0 turbo V6 produces 121 more horsepower (349 vs. 228) and 111 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 258) than the GTI’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder.

Fuel Economy and Range

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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

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The Audi S4 comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the GTI.

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

Brakes and Stopping

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

S4

GTI

Front Rotors

13.8 inches

13.4 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

12.2 inches

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the S4 has larger standard tires than the GTI (245/40R18 vs. 225/40R18). The S4’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the GTI (255/35R19 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

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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 7.4 inches longer than on the GTI (111 inches vs. 103.6 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the S4 is 1.3 inches wider in the front and 1.5 inches wider in the rear than on the GTI.

Chassis

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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

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

Cargo Capacity

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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.

A standard locking glovebox (which can’t be accessed with the valet key) keeps your small valuables safer in the S4. The GTI doesn’t offer locking storage for small valuables.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, just kicking your foot under the back bumper can open the S4’s available trunk, leaving your hands completely free. The GTI doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

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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.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Volkswagen. J.D. Power ranks Audi 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 26% lower rating, Volkswagen is ranked 18th.

Ergonomics

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When two different drivers share the S4, the optional 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 that projects speed and other key instrumentation 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 power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The GTI has a lever-type parking brake that has to be strenuously raised to engage properly. It has to be lifted up more and a button depressed to release it.

If the windows are left open on the S4 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the GTI can’t use the remote to operate the windows.

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 Prestige has standard headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The GTI doesn’t offer headlight washers.

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.

When the S4 with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The GTI’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The S4 offers optional 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 Premium Plus/Prestige 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 Premium Plus/Prestige 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 Premium Plus/Prestige’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 standard massaging front seats in order to maximize comfort and eliminate fatigue on long trips. Massaging seats aren’t available in the GTI.

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.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Audi S4 Premium Plus/Prestige has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The GTI doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

Economic Advantages

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The S4 will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the S4 will retain 47.19% to 47.48% of its original price after five years, while the GTI only retains 45.13% to 46.99%.

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