Audi A4 Quattro is sporty, stylish and a bit of a bargain
Most consumers seem to want sedans that blend sporty handling and ride with comfort and power.
Our crumbling roads and highways don’t reward performance, but luxury sport sedans can control ride to avoid sharp shocks and jolts. Audi’s 2011 A4 Quattro sedan does a great job of that.The A4’s front and independent rear suspension deliver a sporty, well-connected feel and driving experience. But they also control the sharply creviced roads and expansion joints on city roads and freeways. The car’s 110.6-inch wheelbase helps smooth out the ride, along with its optional 18-inch tires, an $800 upgrade.
Yet it handles crisply, turning into corners with no lean. Its 2.0-liter direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder engine provides a generous 211 horsepower. That’s enough to help it zip onto the highway quickly. Audi says it’ll do 0-60 mph in 6.6 seconds. But because this power plant uses a turbo, if you accelerate normally it doesn’t call up all that power. So gas mileage remains decent.
The EPA rates the A4 at 21 mpg city and 29 highway. I managed 24 mpg in about a 50-50 mix of city and highway driving. The downside is that the turbo demands premium fuel.
The test car put that power to good use via its new eight-speed automatic with the Tiptronic feature that allows you to shift manually. I didn’t find that necessary, as the eight-speed provides so many gears at such well-timed intervals that it perfectly meshes with the turbo. Shifts were smooth. However, I did note considerable turbo and acceleration lag on colder mornings. About 5 minutes into a drive, that smoothed out.
Audi includes its four-wheel-drive quattro system that gives excellent traction in sloppy weather. We were still having a bit of sleet and hail during my test week, but the A4 responded well in slippery conditions. Traction and stability control are standard, along with big disc brakes with an anti-lock system.The test sedan was a pearl “meteor” gray, which cost an extra $475. The Audi’s lines are somewhat muscular and attractive. Inside, the interior was black leather with a textured silver metal look trim on the dash and doors and around the console. There’s a matte silver trim by the gauges and above the center stack.
Audi’s A4 comes with a manual tilt/telescope steering wheel, but automatic lights, fog lights and power mirrors, a trip computer control on the end of the wiper stalk and radio controls on the steering wheel hub. I particularly like the roller control, which is easily turned by your thumb to adjust radio volume.
There are two automatic climate controls and a round console knob that acts as a mouse to navigate around the radio and other information systems. I’m not a big fan, but the system has gotten easier to use over time. But it still can distract you from driving.
Seats are well formed to provide good lateral support for hips and back, however, the seat back is a bit too firm, even with the lumbar support at its lowest level. The power seats are easy to adjust and the A4 will seat four adults comfortably. You can fold the split rear seats flat and, even with them in place, there is a fair-sized 12.0 cubic foot trunk.
Heated seats and a host of other electronics, such as Bluetooth hands-free phone interface, three-zone climate control, HomeLink, the trip computer and autodimming mirrors, rain and light sensing systems and an Audi audio interface are part of a $3,400 option package. It also includes Xenon plus headlights along with LED running lights and taillights.The test car added a $2,550 navigation system with a rearview camera, a helpful safety feature. And while I wouldn’t pay extra for a navigation system, this one worked easily and offered a 3D effect that was sharp.
A Bang & Olufsen premium sound system upgrades the audio experience and adds $850 to the sticker.
Overhead is a standard power sunroof, with a convenient dial to help you open it to various settings. The cockpit wasn’t too noisy with that open.
Audi goes keyless, with a large fob you insert into the dash and then press in to start the car.
Audi earns a five-star rollover crash protection rating with the A4.
All this comes at a moderate cost, if you don’t add all the options. The tested A4’s base price is $34,500, including the quattro system. The test vehicle hit $43,580, though. A base A4 with front-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission starts about $32,000 and an Avant wagon at $36,300.
If you desire more power, a 3.0-liter turbo-equipped A4 with manual transmission and quattro, starts at $46,600. A still sporty, but smaller, Audi A3 starts at $27,270 while the A5 lists at about $37,000. Audi has a bevy of size and engine choices and most models come as either a coupe or sedan, and some as convertibles too.
These are sporty handling cars with stellar styling, and the A4 is a bit of a bargain without the bells and whistles. The biggest drawback is the need for premium fuel.