Saturday, January 5, 2008

A4 Offers Choices


One of the key strengths of Audi’s A4/ S4 line is that there is a configuration for nearly every budget and taste. Models range in price from the entry-level A4 2.0T at $28,240.00 to the uber-fast V8 powered RS4, which will set you back about $66,000.00. Available powerplants include a 200 horsepower inline four cylinder, a V6, and a macho 420 horsepower V8. Another nice feature of the A4/S4 line is that the optional Quattro permanent all-wheel-drive is available in any of these configurations. Its good that it has these things going for it too, because the A4 competes against some really fantastic cars, including the Infiniti G35 sedan, BMW’s 3-series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and many, many others.


My tester, being near the least expensive of the configurations, came equipped with Audi’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. This little engine makes 200 horsepower, and feels quick. While clearly not as smooth as a larger displacement V6 or V8, the little turbo is more than up to the task of providing enjoyable daily driving. An added benefit of the small displacement turbocharged engine is better fuel economy, which the Audi has in spades. With its 30-mpg highway average, you should get you over 400 miles between stops at the gas station. The downside is that engine noise is far more conspicuous than the V6 competitors I’ve driven.


Having enjoyed last year’s A3 S-line immensely, I was really looking forward to the A4, and its optional Quattro all-wheel-drive. I wasn’t let down in the slightest. Also, Mother Nature was kind enough to offer me the opportunity to sample the A4’s inclement weather characteristics, which included rain, sleet, and some snow. Under these less-than-ideal circumstances, the A4 excelled. My only complaint is that the optional sport suspension can be a touch rough over some roads.


For many people, the most noticeable part of the A4’s appearance is its large grill. It is also its most controversial feature. For me, the entire exterior and interior appearance of the A4 is home run. The combination of the prominent grill, aggressive stance, and rather understated lines are just gorgeous. My tester came with black leather interior and lots of aluminum accent pieces. It looks simple and of high quality. Unfortunately, every yin has its yang, and there are some problems with the A4’s interior. Because its dimensions are smaller than many of its competitors, legroom is in short supply both up front and in the backseat. Additionally, Audi’s instrumentation can be a little daunting for some.


With its many configurations, the A4/S4 is a rewarding small luxury sedan that offers something for almost everybody.

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