Some drivers consider sport sedans the epitome of automotive excellence. Though generally more expensive than mid-size and some entry-level cars, sport sedans deliver outstanding performance, handling, and braking — satisfaction of the sort that prompts owners to go for a drive for the pure pleasure of it.
Such is the case with the tested 2017 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro S tronic. That’s a nomenclature mouthful, but it aptly describes the A4 with the turbocharged 252-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Quattro is Audi’s name for its renowned all-wheel-drive system. The S tronic is the company’s seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission.
It has a manual shift mode controlled by paddles on the steering wheel. But as with most of these setups, the onboard computer uncannily computes when shifts up or down should be triggered, and can nearly always shift faster and more accurately than any human.
The A4’s S tronic does that, though occasionally there is an almost imperceptible slip when accelerating off the line — a characteristic of some twin-clutch automatics. Mostly, you don’t notice anything and the A4 rockets to 60 mph in slightly more than 5 seconds, according to Audi and independent tests.
For traditionalists, Audi also will offer a six-speed manual gearbox. That’s unusual in an era when stick shifts are vanishing from the scene.
The A4 has selectable drive modes — automatic, comfort, dynamic and individual — but even in the softest setting, it exhibits athletic moves. It also delivers enviable fuel economy. The EPA rates the city/highway/combined fuel consumption at 24/31/27 mpg.
The base A4 Quattro, designated as Premium in Audi-speak, starts at $40,350, including the destination charge. If you don’t want or need the all-wheel drive, you can knock $2,100 off the sticker by ordering the front-wheel-drive version.
Standard equipment includes three-zone automatic climate control, motorized glass sunroof, rear-view camera, leather upholstery, xenon headlights, eight-way power front seats, push-button starting with engine stop-start, 17-inch wheels and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
The heavily optioned test car, with a $54,275 sticker, added 18-inch wheels, Bang & Olufsen audio system, memory power seats, head-up display, digital gauge cluster, cooled and heated front seats, heated rear seats, adjustable suspension system and an option package that included navigation, blind-spot warning and rear-end collision warning.
Confusing was the automatic transmission shifter, which requires the driver to press a separate button on the back side to engage “park.” You can get used to it over time but, following long-standing habit, most drivers push the shifter forward, think they’re in “park,” and wind up in “reverse” instead.
Overall, though, the Audi A4 stands out in a group of standout sport sedans.