Aaron KileyCar and Driver
The reigning champ of midsize sports sedans, the 2005 Audi S4, takes on two V-8 challengers: the Cadillac CTS-V and Mercedes-Benz C55 AMG. Can the Audi’s all-wheel-drive poise and polished style surmount its power deficit?
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The CTS-V turned the quickest lap at Nelson Ledges. And it might’ve done even better if we got more than one lap out of it.
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All three of these pack a V-8, but their approaches are very different.
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The Audi gets a 340-horsepower, 4.2-liter V-8 and a six-speed manual, while the Benz is treated to a 5.5-liter, 362-horsepower V-8 and a five-speed automatic.
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The C55 AMG probably would have been quicker if it were offered with a manual.
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With a 0-60 time of 4.7 seconds, the C55 barely edged out the muscular Caddy.
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Nothing wrong with a C-Class that a 5.5-liter V-8 can’t fix.
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In case you forgot, the C55 AMG’s tach reminds you that this isn’t the old C32.
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The Benz interior is more spare than an E-Class’, but it’s still well suited to purposeful driving.
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The most important button here? The one labeled “ESP”. Because you can fully defeat the traction control system in the C55 AMG.
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The C55 AMG’s quad pipes announce eight cylinders and 24 valves.
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Drilled rotors and AMG calipers belie a brake pedal that got mushy during track use.
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This badge corresponds to the car’s engine displacement, and we can’t imagine that practice will ever change.
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The CTS-V, with its 400-horsepower Corvette engine, was the muscle car of the group.
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The Caddy was the track champ, although fuel starvation issues ended its day early.
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Cadillac’s interior is a mish-mash of odd shapes and angles.
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The good stuff: 5.7-liter V-8 and a strut tower brace.
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The Cadillac’s switchgear looks very GM, which is not a compliment.
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We’re delighted about the six-speed manual, less so the fact that launching the CTS-V requires a delicate clutch engagement to avoid axle hop.
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The V managed a 167-foot stop from 70 mph.
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We have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of this badge.
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The Audi S4 is the rare sedan that can pull off yellow paint.
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Understeer is the S4’s default cornering mode.
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That big V-8 is way out over the nose, contributing to a 62-38 front-rear weight bias.
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The S4 doesn’t have a nav system, but it does have a sweet six-speed manual.
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Now if only we got the cars with an “R” in front of that S.
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The S4 doesn’t look wildly different from a lesser A4, and that’s part of the point.
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Six speeds, all-wheel-drive: the winning Audi formula.
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You shall know the S4 by its rear-view mirrors.
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