|June 23, 2010
Photos and Text: Kris Hansen
The A4 quattro is Audis smallest and least costly all wheel drive sedan, but that doesn’t mean that its boring to drive, or sparsely featured. Starting with the 2.0 liter turbocharged direct fuel injected (TFSI) engine, and quattro permanent all wheel drive system, up through the beautifully finished interior with power windows, automatic climate control, leather seats, excellent audio system with standard satellite radio and aux input jack, you begin to realize, this car has a lot to offer for the base $32,350.
Our test car was equipped with some optional equipment to further enhance the motoring experience, but they dont cause the car to break the bank. Adding the Premiere package to the A4 gets you HID Xenon headlights, 3 zone climate control, heated front seats, trip computer, and more goodies, for less than $4000 extra. We feel it is well worth the extra cost in this case, since its not all that much more money relatively speaking, and this package really contributes to the high end feel of the car.
The HID lighting package also includes the LED running lights which we happen to really like (the A4’s LEDs have a curving flow of the LEDs which is rather reminiscent of the R8, which can’t be a bad thing), and feel that they define the face of the modern Audi. The standard auxiliary audio input is replaced by an Ipod interface in the glovebox as part of the Audi Music Interface, which allows you full control of your iPod via the audio controls. Also included on our car was the sport package, which consists of the 3 spoke perforated leather wrapped sport steering wheel, sport seats, lower and stiffer suspension, and 18 inch wheels. These are mostly aesthetic and comfort related, though the lower suspension and larger wheels help to improve the handling.
The aforementioned upgrades defininately combine to make the A4 look fantastically sporty. The Brilliant Red paint on our car certainly helped, but the stance the car takes with the sport suspension transforms the car into a genuine sports sedan. The lower center of gravity and increased spring rates and shock damping work well in spirited driving, while retaining a civilized ride, even with the ultra low profile tires. The B8 A4 is incredibly fun to drive. We found it equally at home on tight twisty mountain roads, as well as on the highway for long drives. It seems the harder you lean the car into corners, the happier it becomes. Even while applying full power in a corner, the car does not understeer at all, the rear just digs in, and the car hurls itself through the corner. As the limit of adhesion is reached, the A4 will tend towards understeer, and the rear end always feels planted. Overall though, the A4 feels incredibly well balanced while driving, exhibiting mostly neutral handling tendencies. With the ESP turned off, aggressive drivers can get more rotation from the rear, and the car is still very controlable and confidence inspiring.
Steering feel is excellent, and feedback is good. The rack is nicely weighted, not falsely heavy, but not overly boosted either. With Servotronic variable assist, parking is a non issue. As speed increases, the transitions from high assist to low assist are seamless, and feedback remains constant. The steering wheel does feel somewhat isolated from the road, but not as much as it could. There is enough feedback to know when the tires are reaching their limit of adhesion, yet you dont feel every single imperfection on the road.