Today: Aug 17 , 2019

Auto Corner: Reinventing the Balance of Sport, Luxury & Practicality

Audi’s A4 sedan, also available as a wagon, remains a leader in its class.

SedanAvantA3frontAs an auto reviewer, I test dozens of new vehicles every year. So I don’t say it lightly when I say that Audi’s all-wheel-drive “Quattro” vehicles are almost always my favorites. They’re more unique than their BMW and Mercedes competitors, and they typically cost a few thousand dollars less, too.

For 2010 Audi has redesigned its smallest sedan, the A4, also available as an attractive “Avant” or wagon. The A4 sedan and wagon share the same German engineering – available with “Frontrack” front-wheel drive or “Quattro” all-wheel drive, which is the only way to go.

It’s hard to describe just how well Audi’s engineers have done on this comfortable little car. Highlights include gorgeous styling, a class-leading interior, legitimate luxury touches, user-friendly navigation system (with iPod interface) and rearview backup camera.

Inside, Audi’s 12-speaker Bose stereo punches bass and treble notes with performance-hall precision. While I usually prefer touch-screen navigation systems, Audi’s controls (on both the steering wheel and near the natural hand rest in the center console) are so ergonomic and natural that I never once found myself reaching for the screen.

The A4 pampers its occupants in finely upholstered leather. The seats – like the suspension – manage to be comfortable and also supportive during performance driving. I’ve always enjoyed Audi’s fine touches on leather-wrapped steering wheels and other interior “touch” components. The new A4 is no exception. It boasts components that feel significantly pricier than the A4’s $31,000 base price.

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A true driver’s car – the A4 has tiny thumb dials on both sides of the steering wheel. Each dial correlates to a color screen between the speedometer and tachometer. Drivers can control navigation and audio features from the steering wheel – without moving their hands from the steering wheel or their eyes from the road.

Push the Quattro all-wheel-drive on rainy roads, and you still won’t feel the Audi slip. In snow and on light mud the Quattro A4 finds more traction than some cars find on dry pavement.

This A4 handles and brakes in near super car range, too. A “base” A4 can stop from 60 miles per hour in just 103 feet. That’s Porsche territory. The 2.0T “turbo” engine shoots back up to 60 miles per hour in a quick 6.5 seconds -- exactly on par with BMW’s costlier four-cylinder 328i.

Those hungry for even more gusto should opt for Audi’s 265-horsepower, six-cylinder S4. The S4 has long been a favorite among enthusiast drivers, but honestly – unless you really need the performance – the turbo four-cylinder is plenty. It lands 30 miles per gallon on the highway and 23 miles for every gallon in the city.

Audi’s final product is a slick looking, luxurious sport sedan (or wagon) that’s incredibly practical at the pump. If you’re looking for a daily driver that hugs turns and also looks great around town, the A4 may be your dream come true. If you insist on more power, then take a spin in the new S4.

SedanAvantA3

Possibly the perfect cockpit, the A4 feels secure as a womb in turns
that make other cars squirm.

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© Copyright 2010 John Dickerson

John Dickerson, Auto Reviews

Each month John Dickerson tests a worthy car. From smoking teenagers at stoplights to cramming groceries and small appliances into the trunk, Dickerson examines the features you actually care about, like how well a spilled mocha cleans off the upholstery. Dickerson was raised on industrial pollution, deer venison and American steel in Detroit, Michigan. His co-workers often find him in a trance, slumped over his keyboard, uttering words like “torque steer, horsepower-to-displacement ratio” and “nav system.”