Audi enthusiasts can be a fickle group, but the new, fifth-generation A4 will delight even the most hard-core fan.
An amazing array of technological advancements raises the bar for the entire premium-car category. A Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster, inductive phone charging, 30-hue ambient lighting and Apple/Android functionality are just a few of the highlights.
Compared to previous designs, the most immediate impression that emanates from the A4 is the feeling the sedan is lower to the ground and more planted. This is a wider, more pronounced grille with a definitely longer, wider appearance. The elegant clamshell hood stays fairly unchanged, with more emphasis given to new headlamps and wider taillamps.
Audi engineers have managed to achieve a 0.23 coefficient of drag, just 0.01 off the industry-leading claim made for the Mercedes-Benz CLA-class. With the enhanced use of lightweight aluminum, the A4 has dropped up to 100 pounds, which translates into ride quality, performance and fuel economy.
According to Audi, two 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines will be offered in 2017. I tested the turbocharged TFSI gas engine offering 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. A fuel-sipping diesel unit delivering 190 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque will also be offered.
Pushing the A4 across Will County roads, I found minimal turbo lag and outstanding mid-range throttle response. The seven-speed automatic is crisp and responsive in every circumstance. My only challenge was getting comfortable with the dead feedback from the steering. You do eventually get used to it, but it is a shame it’s so muted when everything in the new A4 is so dynamic.
Inside the A4 cabin you will find the expected high levels of workmanship, fit and finish and material quality. This sedan provides a wonderful visual position with a definite feel of being low-slung. Heated leather seats with power adjustments make certain the perfect position for any driver is easily accomplished.
Most of the central MMI functions have redundant controls on the steering wheel, including all navigation, radio and hands-free speaking options. The biggest news is the beautifully functional Virtual Cockpit. A 12.3-inch gauge screen, which uses Google Earth to provide maps, terrain and upcoming traffic and navigation info, is center stage. The A4 also comes with Audi Connect, which packages together all the applications that connect the A4 to the Internet like weather info, Siri Eyes Free and automatic crash notification.
A laundry list of driving aids includes Traffic Jam Assist (radar-based semiautonomous driving up to 40 mph, including steering) and Exit Warning, which will warn occupants exiting the car when an approaching motorist or bicyclist might strike an open door.
The 2017 A4 quattro starts at $40,350, but you can get a front-wheel-drive model that cuts down $2,100. If you opt for the Premium Plus trim it will cost $3,800, but my tester featured this package and I have to say the bigger wheels, the Bang and Olufsen sound system, heated seats, LED lights and the S line package make it well worth the effort.