Is the Audi A4 the new default premium sedan?
The BMW 3-series is still certainly ubiquitous, but depending on where you live, the A4 might be more so. And even after just a few miles, it’s easy to see why. But does that feeling last?
I’ve been driving the 2017 Audi A4. Here are some first thoughts.
New Boss suit, same as the old Boss suit
If it looks like an Audi, quacks like an Audi, it’s an Audi. At a glance, it’s hard to tell the new A4 apart from the old, or apart from other Audis for that matter. But subtle detail changes keep it fresher and it makes even the attractive Mercedes-Benz C-Class look fussy by comparison. It’s not the most expressive design, but it looks expensive. I’ll get to why later.
The stunning Virtual Cockpit hasn’t gotten old yet. Audi continues to have pretty technology that’s easy to use and implements color better than pretty much anywhere else.
And this is only the A4
This is a 2.0-liter turbo four churning out 252 horsepower and that’s a lot. A 2.0 with 200 horsepower was a big deal not too long ago. Paired to the all-wheel drive, it means effortless starts and passing without theater in the front wheels. You had to step up to an Audi S-something to feel this before.
What’s not so good is the power delivery at low speeds. I’ve yet to meet a dual-clutch transmission that does parking lot speeds well and this new seven-speed S tronic is no exception. Making matters worse is an electronic shifter which requires deliberate movements between reverse and drive and a careful right foot to avert disaster.
Sights and sounds
There are gripes, however. Even though the dash is relatively low among modern cars, I can’t get comfortable behind the wheel and see out of the A4. The worst offense, not unique to this car, is the door panel that effectively cuts into the right-side mirror, rendering the bottom half of it useless.
There’s also a beeping sound for nearly everything and I can’t figure out how to turn half of them off.
Welcome to $50,000
The downside of all of this technological competency is that it’s far too easy to spend $50,000 on an A4 now. This mid-grade Premium Plus model with Quattro, metallic paint, the Technology Package (Virtual Cockpit and nav), Sport Package and the upgraded audio isn’t even as high as you can go – and this is only the A4. I know it’s comparable to the C300 and 328i, but that’s still a lot of money.
I’m finding out if it’s worth it. Meanwhile, sound off with your questions in the comments below.