Audi has utilized their excellent turbocharged 4 cylinder engines in the A4 since the beginning, and the 2.0TFSI engine in the current generation is outstanding. Generating 211hp from 4300 to 6000rpm and a whopping 258lb/ft from 1500 to 4200rpm, it certainly has the grunt to move the car very swiftly. Looking at the power curve relative to the torque curve, itís clear that this is not an engine that you need (or even want) to rev out. Itís perfectly happy cranking away under 5000rpm, and going beyond that is not beneficial. The engine doesnít get noisy or thrashy in any way (as 4 cylinders go, the 2.0TFSI is very smooth and quiet), but it just feels like it runs out of breath over 5500rpm. Short shifting is the way to drive quickly with this engine. This is not to say that the car is slow however. Audi say that the manual transmission A4 2.0T will run from 0-60 in 6.4 seconds, and in real world driving such as merging on the highway or passing multiple cars on a 2 lane, acceleration is brisk, thanks to the massive torque.
Our tester was equipped with the 6 speed manual transmission, which we liked. Initially we felt the feel of the lever to be slightly rubbery, though we quickly acclimated to its action. The gate is very positive, we never missed a gearchange. While the lever appears to be long, the throws are not, and itís a very pleasant overall experience. The clutch takes up immediately off the floor, and while it does lack a certain amount of feedback, it makes up for that by being incredibly flexible. Heal/toe downshifts are possible thanks to good pedal spacing and a properly firm brake pedal.
On the road, the A4 is quite comfortable. The ride is firm, but not jarring, even with the sport suspension and 18Ē high performance tires. We found the seats to be nicely comfortable on long drives, yet supportive in spirited driving. There is enough range in adjustment that anyone should be able to find a perfect driving position. This car is very nice to drive. Itís very responsive, and amenable to doing double duty as a commuter car and a canyon carving sports sedan. One very minor gripe we came up with is a very noticeable surging from the engine while cruising at lower revs (specifically in the 1800 to 2200 range). We suspect that the always eager turbocharger is the culprit here; the engine management appears to constantly fiddle with the turbocharger bypass system in order to maintain the speed thatís requested by the driver. This is the tradeoff with a turbocharger that will generate boost at such low revs, and in all honesty, itís not that big of a problem, but it is something we noticed.
Another benefit of this engine is excellent fuel economy. We were amazed at the mileage we were seeing, and itís not that we were necessarily gentle with the accelerator pedal. Because of the abundance of low end torque, the car reaches cruising speeds very rapidly, and once attained, the engineís load becomes light, and therefore fuel economy increases. According to the trip computer we averaged around 30mpg (which did include a couple of long highway drives) while we had the car which was a very nice surprise.
The interior of the A4 shows off Audiís traditional attention to detail. Even though our car did not have the MMI system, we found the control panel for the audio system mounted above the climate control system to be completely intuitive, and in fact it mirrors the MMI controls, minus the buttons for the navigation. The base level sound system is excellent, and with the iPod integration, satellite radio, am/fm/cd plus an SD card slot, all controlled from the same place, it seems like it would be impossible to not find something to listen to. All control surfaces are softly textured plastic, and nice to the touch. The window switches were a little on the ďplasticyĒ side, but that was the only sub-par detail we noticed. Beneath the extendable and height adjustable center armrest is a nice storage cubby, with a 12v outlet for charging phones or other electronics. In front of that, there are 2 cup holders, which are nice and deep, and work well.
Cruising in the A4 is calm and quiet. The interior is very hushed with the windows closed, wind noise is minimal, although road noise is somewhat present. In 6th gear, the revs are so low that the engine note is reduced to a very low hum. As revs increase, the engine takes on a nice mid tone growl. At no point do you get to hear the turbo though, which is a bit of a bummer honestly.
We consider the A4 to be a great car for a blend of sporty driving and family duties, itís fun to drive, has enough techno-gadgets to keep people interested for longer drives, room for 5, and excellent luggage capacity, and all weather sure footed traction. We really enjoyed our test of the A4, and weíre certain weíd enjoy spending even more time with this excellent car!