Over the years, Audi has earned a reputation as a driver’s marque. That’s one of the reasons their smaller, more nimble, sedans have always been so popular, and why Audi chose its smaller chassis to create the original Quattro back in 1980. Well, here’s the latest Audi of that lineage, the A4. A car that a resurgent Audi hopes will please not only hard-core enthusiasts, but also reach well beyond and into the mainstream.
And Audi’s done everything they can to place the A4 squarely within the car-buying consciousness of American import buyers. With a development cost of 1.2 billion dollars, they had to!<
What Audi delivers for the money is a car that’s wider, taller, and longer than the one it replaces—the Audi 90—yet weighs 200 pounds less. Part of the weight reduction comes from the new forged aluminum, 4-link front suspension. By reducing the amount of offset between the tire contact patch and the wheel steering pivot point, full throttle torque steer has been virtually eliminated. Our drivers also raved about the Audi’s tight, solid body and on-track grip. Yet the ride has also been enhanced. Firm, yes, and controlled, but one that no longer fights with expansion joints. The standard 55-series 16-inch tires manage both venues well.
U.S. A4 power comes from this 12-valve, single cam, 90-degree V-6, which produces 172 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. While a light-shifting manual transaxle is standard, our car’s 5-speed automatic selects one of 200 shift strategies to perfectly match driving styles. Together they took our 3100-pound Audi from 0 to 60 in a respectable 9.1 seconds. Most of the A4’s smooth power comes in the middle-to-upper power band, giving a quarter-mile time of 16.9 seconds, ending at 83 miles per hour.
Brakes are 4-wheel discs with a 5th generation anti-lock system, which integrates Electronic Differential locking, for even better low speed traction. Fade-free stops from 60 averaged a fine 118 feet.
Exceptionally fine, too, are the A4’s interior appointments. Our car’s optional leather seats combine with the other quality materials to produce a cabin that exudes sporting luxury. The front bucket seats are supportive and comfortable, with 8-way power adjustments, plus manual lumbar. Heated seats are optional. But a tilt and telescoping wheel is standard. So is this automatic climate control with pollen filter. Our A4 had the optional Bose sound system. While we’d like larger switchgear, we did appreciate both the in-dash cassette player and the trunk-mounted CD changer. The larger interior of the A4 is especially appreciated in the rear seat, which also splits and folds for access to the also larger 13.7 cubic foot trunk.
Audi’s done its best to keep the price down. The A4 starts at $26,400. Our car’s automatic, leather trim, sunroof, Bose stereo and more took its sticker to $31,785. Given the high price of many Asian imports, we think that’s a reasonable price range for a luxurious German-made sports sedan that does virtually everything well. But we’d spend another $1550 to add Audi’s excellent Quattro all-wheel-drive system to the mix.
Car enthusiasts have always enjoyed Audi cars. Now, with the mainstream A4, we think everyone will.
Engine: 2.8-Liter, Sohc, 12-valve, V-6
Torque: 184 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 9.1 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 16.9 Seconds @ 83 MPH
60-0 MPH: 118 Feet