Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2016 Audi S4 VS 2016 Subaru WRX Near Phoenix, AZ

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2016 Audi S4

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2016 Subaru WRX

Safety Comparison

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 Subaru WRX doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

Both the S4 and the WRX have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, all wheel drive, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, available crash mitigating brakes, blind spot warning systems and rearview cameras.

The Audi S4 weighs 430 to 666 pounds more than the Subaru WRX. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty Comparison

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 WRX’s 3 year/36,000 mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The S4’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the WRX’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Reliability Comparison

The camshafts in the S4’s engine are driven by a hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs. The WRX STI’s camshafts are driven by a rubber belt that needs periodic replacement. If the WRX’s cam drive belt breaks the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the S4 has a standard 150-amp alternator. The WRX’s standard 130-amp alternator and largest (STI) 110-amp alternator aren’t as powerful.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without their vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports predicts that the S4’s reliability will be 26% better than the WRX.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2015 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Audi vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 16th in initial quality. With 27 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 30th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2015 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 14th in reliability, above the industry average. With 19 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 19th.

Engine Comparison

The S4’s 3.0 supercharged V6 produces 65 more horsepower (333 vs. 268) and 67 lbs.-ft. more torque (325 vs. 258) than the WRX’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. The S4’s 3.0 supercharged V6 produces 28 more horsepower (333 vs. 305) and 35 lbs.-ft. more torque (325 vs. 290) than the WRX STI’s standard 2.5 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Road & Track the Audi S4 is faster than the Subaru WRX (manual transmissions tested):


WRX 2.0


Zero to 60 MPH

4.4 sec

5.2 sec

4.8 sec

Quarter Mile

12.9 sec

13.7 sec

13.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

108.8 MPH

99.5 MPH

102.8 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

On the EPA test cycle the S4 Auto gets better fuel mileage than the WRX Auto (18 city/28 hwy vs. 18 city/24 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the S4 Manual gets better fuel mileage than the WRX STI (17 city/26 hwy vs. 17 city/23 hwy).

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

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




Front Rotors

13.6 inches

12.4 inches

13 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

11.3 inches

12.4 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 WRX are solid, not vented.

The S4 stops shorter than the WRX:



60 to 0 MPH

107 feet

112 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels Comparison

For better traction, the S4 has larger standard tires than the WRX (245/40R18 vs. 235/45R17). The S4’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the WRX (255/35R19 vs. 245/40R18).

The S4’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the WRX’s standard 45 series tires. The S4’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the WRX Premium/Limited/STI’s 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the S4 has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the WRX. The S4’s optional 19-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the WRX Premium/Limited/STI.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

The S4 offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The WRX’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the S4’s wheelbase is 6.4 inches longer than on the WRX (110.7 inches vs. 104.3 inches).

The S4’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (56% to 44%) than the WRX’s (58.8% to 41.2%). This gives the S4 more stable handling and braking.

The S4 handles at .94 G’s, while the WRX pulls only .89 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The S4 executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the WRX (24.9 seconds @ .78 average G’s vs. 25.7 seconds @ .72 average G’s).

Chassis Comparison

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the S4 is quieter than the WRX Premium:



At idle

37 dB

51 dB


72 dB

77 dB

70 MPH Cruising

64 dB

74 dB

Passenger Space Comparison

The S4 has .4 inches more rear headroom and .1 inches more rear shoulder room than the WRX.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

The S4 has a larger trunk with its rear seat up than the WRX (12.4 vs. 12 cubic feet).

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

Ergonomics Comparison

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

The power windows standard on both the S4 and the WRX have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the S4 is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The WRX prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The S4’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The WRX’s passenger windows don’t open or close automatically.

If the windows are left down on the S4 the driver can raise them all using the key in the outside lock cylinder; on a hot day the driver can lower the windows. The driver of the WRX can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

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 WRX’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the S4 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The WRX doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

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 WRX 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. When the ignition turns off, the headlights turn off after a delay timed to allow you to securely get to your front door. The WRX has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the STI/Limited.

The WRX Limited Auto’s optional cornering lamps activate a lamp on the front corner when the turn signal is activated. The S4 Prestige’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.

A power rear sunshade is optional in the S4 Prestige to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The WRX doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

The S4’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Subaru only offers heated mirrors on the WRX Premium/Limited/STI.

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 WRX offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The S4 has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The WRX doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

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 WRX STI.

Both the S4 and the WRX offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the S4 has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The WRX doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

Recommendations Comparison

The S4 was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 2 of the last 12 years. The WRX hasn’t been picked since 2003.

The S4 was selected by Automobile Magazine as their 2010 Car of the Year. The WRX was Car of the Year in 2002.

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