Audi's venerable A4 sedan is still fresh and exciting
Audi has been producing the A4 sedan since 1994. The model is currently on its fifth generation, and it's never been more up-to-date and relevant. The A4 is Audi's bread and butter compact sedan, and it's always been a big seller.
Of course, compact sedans aren't what they used to be. Back in 1994, the first A4 was 8 inches shorter and 4 inches narrower than the current model. All cars tend to get bigger over time, but in the case of the A4 that's not a bad thing. The car now feels spacious and generous, and that will please buyers.
Under the hood, the A4 is still running on an engine developed for that first generation car. The 2.0-liter engine is common to many Audi vehicles, and it's been proven reliable over the years. Turbo power has boosted the output to a healthy 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. However, the available 7-speed dual-clutch transmission gives the A4 its current level of performance. If you haven't tried a dual-clutch gearbox lately, you should take a test drive. This transmission is lightning fast and as smooth as any traditional automatic.
Audi's legendary quattro all-wheel-drive system is also a great performance enhancer. The system has the ability to direct up to 70 percent of engine torque to the front wheels, or up to 85 percent to the rear wheels. Whether you choose the 7-speed dual-clutch or the 6-speed manual transmission, the A4 will drive right through any Portland winter.
In the cabin, Audi has given the A4 a state-of-the-art driver information and control system. The Audi Virtual Cockpit uses a large screen in place of a traditional dashboard, allowing you to configure a variety of display parameters. You can even display a photographic Google Earth display of the neighborhood you're driving through to help your navigation.
The Audi MMI 8.3-inch infotainment center is mounted high on the center of the dash for easy viewing. A rotary controller with quick-select buttons on the console gives tactile control, but the system also responds to gestures. If you ever wanted to feel like a wizard, just give this system a wave.
On the road, the A4 is well mannered, fast, and among the most agile compact sedans you can buy. There's plenty of acceleration under your foot, and you won't even notice the gearbox doing its job. What you will notice is the comfortable seats, quiet cabin, and intuitive layout. The test car had the optional Bang & Olufsen sound system, and it sounds just as great as you would expect.
The bottom line is that if you're shopping for a premium compact sedan as a commute vehicle or family car, the Audi A4 is a must-drive contender.
2018 Audi A4 2.0T quattro S tronic
Base price: $40,500
Price as tested: $52,400
Type: Compact sedan
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder (252 hp, 273 lbs-ft)
Transmissions: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic or 6-speed manual
EPA estimated mileage: 24/34
Overall length: 186.1 inches
Curb weight: 3,450 pounds
Final assembly: Ingolstadt, Germany