2017 Audi A4 2.0 TFSI Quattro Prestige
Audi new A4 is edgier, quicker, thriftier, techier and richer than ever.
The A4’s cabin gets Audi’s new “horizontal interior design” theme composed of high-quality synthetics, aluminum inlays and other visual and tactile niceties. Where the newest Audi really wows is in graphic interfaces, starting with one of the nicest driver configurable full-TFT primary gauge clusters in the business, an option that’s well worth the upgrade. The graphics are clear and colorful, while a favorite feature includes a steering wheel-mounted “VIEW” button that shrinks the size of both tachometer and speedometer while simultaneously enlarging the multi-information display at center.
A new permanently fixed tablet-style infotainment display pokes up from dash central, with inputs made via a lower and much flatter MultiMedia Interface (MMI) rotating dial controller, while surrounding buttons are mostly touch sensitive for ease of operation and a very slick feel. The 8.3-inch display isn’t a touchscreen like your tablet, so it doesn’t respond to pinches, swipes and other finger gestures, but the top of the rotating controller does, while the various go-to buttons recognize hand movements before actually being pressed-very cool. Audi has also increased system speed and simplified all MMI processes for a much quicker, more intuitive and streamlined operating system. Voice recognition actually works more often than not, this probably to do with the integration of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, one or the other automatically coming into play when connecting your smartphone, and while the system’s digitized voice sounds better than ever it’s clearly not the best reason to spend more for the fabulous sounding Bang & Olufsen audio upgrade. My tester also included navigation, the graphics and colors clearer and brighter than ever and overall functionality much better than before, while the backup camera, mine complete with a 360-degree overhead view, provides better than average visibility all-round.
The tri-zone auto HVAC interface (there’s another panel in back) is also mostly touch-sensitive, while a set of touch toggles line up just below, featuring Audi’s drive select, an auto stop/start on/off switch, and more. While these are elegantly designed and ultra-easy to use, the controls suffer from cheap hollow plastic construction, but at least they don’t wiggle like the aforementioned row of HVAC buttons. Such questionable tactility might put some premium buyers off, but take note this is perceived quality, not real quality. To the latter more important end Audi achieved first place in Consumer Reports latest Report Card on Reliability and scores above average in J.D. Power’s most recent Vehicle Dependability Study, so long-term durability shouldn’t be a problem.
The A4 will keep you plenty comfortable too, with more head and shoulder room up front than its predecessor and almost an inch of extra rear legroom. The former can be experienced from some of the best leather-clad sport seats in the business, the driver’s power-adjustable with true four-way lumbar support and optional memory settings, while the rears offer good lower back support. A leather-covered center front armrest lifts up to expose Audi’s Phone Box, where you’re supposed to leave your smartphone. A coiled connector cable joins a wireless charger, while those in back can enjoy the comfort of a fold-down leather armrest incorporating two of the slickest transformer-like cupholders in the business.
That center position also folds down for a pass-through to the extremely accommodating 16-9 cubic-foot trunk, allowing two rear outboard passengers to keep heated via optional seat warmers while everyone’s skis lay down the middle. If more than two’s a crowd the 40/20/40-split rear row can be fully lowered, providing even greater expansion of the cargo compartment, while your luggage will feel ultimately pampered thanks to soft carpeting on the floor and sidewalls, little mesh pockets at each corner, and chromed metal tie-down hooks.
Back up front, the A4’s flat and low gear selector is so slick you’ll want to use it for all shifting duties, although the steering wheel paddles are even more engaging. Unlike its predecessor that used an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic, the new model incorporates Audi’s even quicker shifting yet more efficient seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automated gearbox, so swapping gears is almost instantaneous and much smoother than I remember this transmission being previously. Oddly, I find Dynamic sport mode the smoothest of its three drive select settings being that its shift increments occur faster, but even when left in default Auto mode or the car’s thriftiest Comfort setting it went about its business quietly behind the scenes, never letting on that it wasn’t simply a regular automatic. The engine shuts off at stoplights to temporarily eliminate emissions and make the car EV-silent, this feature joining a kinetic energy recovery system that also contributes to a reduced EPA as-tested rating of 24 mpg city, 31 highway and 27 combined, which is considerably better than last year’s 21 city, 30 highway and 25 combined mileage, at least in the city, while there’s absolutely no compromise when it comes to driving dynamics.
It wouldn’t seem like a complete redesign without more power from the base engine, and fortunately the direct-injection and turbocharged 2.0-liter four now puts out 32 more horsepower and 15 additional pound-feet of torque, the new model producing 252 of the former and 273 of the latter, and all of this from a slightly longer albeit marginally lighter car, the new Quattro model shedding 66 lbs for an as-tested curb weight of 3,626 lbs. Audi claims 260 lbs less mass, but that number reflects the front-drive version powering the base model. As good as all this sounds, manual fans will be disappointed the six-speed DIY gearbox is no longer available.
Fortunately the A4’s wonderfully sorted fully independent suspension carries over, although the five-link front and rear design feels more agile than I remember its already capable predecessor being. Maybe it’s the chassis tuning, the way the speed-sensitive electromechanical steering’s been set up, its reduced weight or a combination of the above, but I love the way this new A4 handles sharp two-lane switchbacks even when the pavement underneath is less than prime, while it remains the best highway cruiser in its class, the A4’s ride quality a noticeable notch above all challengers and all-round high-Speed stability at the very least on par with its main rivals, while that class-leading drag coefficient mentioned earlier makes for an ultra quiet cabin. Braking is strong too, while all the expected electronic aids come standard, including traction and stability control for keeping the car pointed in the chosen direction even when inclement conditions tempt it off track.
As you may have guessed some of my tester’s features aren’t standard, the 2017 A4 nicely outfitted in $37,300 base Premium trim yet not anywhere as fancy as this top-line $45,900 Prestige version, or for that matter the mid-grade $41,100 Premium Plus model. Standard Premium features include auto on/off HID headlamps, LED DRLs and taillights, pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake, Audi drive select, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a leather-wrapped multi-function three-spoke steering wheel with paddles, cruise control, tri-zone auto HVAC, a rearview camera, eight-way powered front seats, leather upholstery, a HomeLink garage door opener, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, HD radio, a powered glass sunroof and more, not to mention all the usual active and passive safety equipment including a knee blocker airbag for each front occupant.
Premium Plus trim upgrades the headlights to full LEDs, replaces the base 17-inch alloys with unique 18-inch rims, adds aluminum trim around the side windows, makes the side mirrors power-folding and auto-dimming, adds proximity access with a foot-activated trunk release, and goes further by adding stainless doorsill plates, front and rear parking sensors, three-way heatable front seats, memory for the driver’s seat and side mirrors, plus those textured aluminum inlays, satellite radio and the superb 775-watt 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D audio system noted before.
Lastly, Prestige trim adds unique 18-inch alloys to the exterior while the interior gets the driver configurable TFT gauge cluster and a head-up display overtop, plus it increases the entry-level 7.0-inch MMI display to 8.3 inches and adds MMI touch while upgrading it with navigation and the 360-degree Top-View camera, while other extras include ambient LED lighting with custom color selection, rear cross-traffic alert, Audi Side Assist monitoring that detects approaching vehicles from both sides and behind, and the brand’s Pre Sense Rear pre-collision system.
My tester also included the $500 Cold Weather package that includes a heatable steering wheel and heated rear outboard seats, while you can also add a $1,450 Warm Weather package that will cool its upgraded four-way powered lumbar support-infused front sport seats and keep rear passengers sheltered via side window sunshades. An $800 19-inch wheel package can be ordered as well, but it will necessitate you first purchasing the $750 Sport package that includes a sport-tuned suspension, front sport seats and a black headliner. Then again if comfort’s more your thing, you can upgrade to the $1,000 Comfort adaptive damping suspension.
Lastly you can improve your A4 with rear side-impact airbags for $350 and the $1,800 Driver Assistance package that adds auto high beams, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, active lane assist, Audi’s pre sense front and pre sense city automated braking systems, traffic congestion assist and traffic sign recognition, all of which help it earn the highest possible IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus rating. As for the NHTSA this 2017 model has yet to be crash tested, although the outgoing A4 received five stars in all categories so this new one will most likely achieve a perfect score as well.
I won’t give the quicker yet more efficient, ultra stylish, tech-infused 2017 A4 a perfect score, but it certainly is amongst the best in its segment and worthy of your consideration.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, American Auto Press; Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, American Auto Press; Copyright: American Auto Press