2017 Audi A4
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Review of: 2017 Audi A4 4dr Sdn Auto Technik quattro
2017 Audi A4 2.0T quattro S tronic Technik: If Your smartphone had wheels and turbo
By G. R. Whale
Nov. 18, 2016
Audi’s 2017 A4 is a successful, thorough update rather than full-blown redesign of less-successful results. In a world gone gaga over lifted wagons, even a short drive will show how much a good sedan has to offer.
Pros & Cons
- + solid build quality
- + Transmission shift quality
- + Efficient performance
- - Auto start/stop system
- - Touchscreen display
- - Volume knob placement
Well-proportioned for its engine ahead of the front-wheel centerline, the A4 is typically slick, understated Audi, the familial trapezoidal grille now more elegant, less piscine than before.
Details set off this design. Lightning-bolt light housings, rotated T front duct nacelles, the clamshell hood that begins a deeply indented character line certain to frustrate detailers, seamlessly integrated lip spoiler, sequential LED rear signals and wheels shaped and painted so spokes appear from thin air. Every aperture closes with a muted bass-drum thud.
Again, this appears a modest evolutionary update but nearly everything has changed. It is simple, coherent and modern without smacking your senses senseless.
Generous adjustments allow proper driving position for all, with plenty of room up front and rear cabin space class-par; excellent visibility and glass eliminate dark cabin claustrophobia. About 370 litres cargo room is more than adequate, and the rear split-folds 40/60. Nice touches include climate displays that awaken as you touch, suede panels at front belt latches, wheel heat switch right on the face and clever rear cupholders in the armrest.
The “virtual cockpit” screen’s mapping I find most useful for anticipating topography at night given the daylight map image. Better yet, the complementary central screen lets the passenger use updated MMI controls—sometimes requiring fewer clicks, sometimes more—without disturbing the driver’s dash. However, the console side volume knob was inadvertently bumped by more than one passenger’s elbow, knee, arm, sleeve or purse, turning audio off…or way up. The palm-rest shifter prefers a light touch until you’re on the manual side.
I’m not yet convinced cupholders adjacent primary electronic controls are best, a sunny windshield the best place for a screen (it does not retract like the A3’s), and I wish the center console storage was fully covered.
If you can’t pair/connect/function here, give up. Dual USB and SD, SIM, line-in, disc drive, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wi-fi, and Audi connect mean signal equals life. It all worked quickly and easily, though you’ll have to get familiar with which way anti- and clockwise scrolls through pages.
Some driver assistance functions are standard, others optional, and I got just one false alarm in a week. With all those and the solid structure the A4 gets top scores from IIHS.
A little lighter, sporting a stout 2.0-litre turbo and a seven-speed twin-clutch that shifts as fast as you can click the paddles, the A4 is quick and reasonably efficient: 0-100 in less than six seconds (not using launch control), 10.5 l/100km in town and 6.5 highway against 9.8/7.7 ratings superior to competitors.
With plenty of grip, no torque steer, decent steering weighting (comfort setting is almost too light), solid brakes and 273 lb-ft of torque the A4 claws its way up mountain passes or through traffic with security and ability more than fun; it doesn’t feel as deft as a rear-drive ATS or 3 series. Despite fast gear changes the transmission is fluid, much smoother creeping along in jams or inching into tight spots. Programming defaults to economy upshifting early as possible—barely into top gear at 100 km/h showing 1,400 revs or less—but also quick to grab a lower gear as needed.
It’s also very quiet inside, the engine’s muted full-throttle snarl appropriate, and noise doesn’t increase much with speed. Only when lugging it out at 1,100-1,200 rpm, which doesn’t take long, does it feel less than luxurious. Or if you put four tall people in together.
There were only three items in my minus column: It’s faster to reach and tap the shifter than hold the + paddle to return to automatic operation, there isn’t much engine braking, and the auto stop/start system killed the engine instantly at a complete stop, and I was ready to leave before it refired, making me consider rolling stops. I switched it off and stayed legal, but these systems are great arguments for yield signs.
An A4 matches or betters 328i xDrive, C 300 4Matic and S60 all-wheel drive, with the thirstier Q50 2.0T and IS 300 AWD a bit less cash; Jag’s new XE will be similar money in efficient diesel form, more in 340-horse gasoline trim. Against its class there’s fair value here, but you’re still paying $50,000 for a compact sedan.
The new A4 makes a compelling argument for a finely balanced sedan. Quick, but not a gas hog. Good pace and comfort. Quiet but not isolated. Contemporary but not out of style before the lease is up. And technology you can use, or not. I challenge you to find that in a $50,000 crossover.