Trait Signal News

Tidbit: Driving Dynamics of the Audi A4 and S4

Trait Signal turns automotive customer opinions into actionable insights. Every week, we help our customers answer a variety of questions, and each Monday, we choose an interesting tidbit of automotive preference data and talk about it here.

All screenshots in our Tidbit posts are real and from our dashboard. If you have questions or would like to see how Trait Signal can help you, get in touch.

Last week we looked at midsize luxury cars and decided for this Tidbit to look at the Audi A4. We wanted to compare driver sentiment toward its driving dynamics to those of its high-performance sibling, the Audi S4.

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Screenshot of the Trait Signal dashboard showing top traits for the Audi A4

To get a quick comparison of driver sentiment toward driving dynamics, we picked five traits to look at: Grip, Ride, Handling, Steering, and Brakes.

We were curious if commentary from real drivers aligned with our intuition (and Audi’s marketing) that the S4’s driving dynamics are better than the A4’s.

For the first three traits, driver sentiment was in-line with our expectations:

Drivers rate Grip, Ride, and Handling as positive for both the Audi A4 and S4 (as you’d expect for luxury sedans), but for all three, drivers rated the S4 more highly.¹

This all made sense. Audi designed the S4 to be the better sports car, and driver sentiment reflects that.

The story is a bit different for Brakes and Steering, however. Here the A4 again provokes positive sentiment, but surprisingly driver sentiment is negative toward these traits for the S4.² Even though the S4 features upgraded components compared to the S4, drivers’ sentiments are more negative.

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Screenshot of the Trait Signal dashboard showing sentiment toward the Steering trait for German Sedans

Why do we see negative driver sentiments, particularly toward steering, when on paper we’d expect the S4 to perform better than the A4 on both? Based on the data we can see, drivers have different expectations for the higher performance S4. Whereas the steering and brakes of the A4 are sufficient and well-liked as a luxury sedan, we can see that drivers have different expectations for high-performance sedans – and on that scale, the S4’s Steering and Brakes are less praised.

We’re always interested in feedback, so if you have thoughts or questions, let us know. And if you’d like a full demo, contact us today.


  1. Per Trait Signal, actual driver sentiment scores are as follows Grip sentiment is 10 out of 10 for the S4, and 6.7 for the A4. Ride sentiment is 10 out of 10 for the S4, and 8.2 for the A4. Handling sentiment is 10 out of 10 for the S4, and 7.3 for the A4.
  2. Steering sentiment is a positive 8.8 out of 10 for the A4, but neutral for the S4. Brakes sentiment is neutral toward both the A4 and S4, but trends slightly negative for the S4.