Redesign keeping Audi on top of things
Rob Douthit, Tue, 30 Sep 2008 08:00:00 PDT
The 2009 Audi A4 enters its fourth generation with a redesign that keeps it among the luxury sedan class leaders.How does this car compare with the previous generation?It's larger, most noticeably.
The A4 has gained 4.6 inches in length, to 185.6 inches, and 6.5 inches on the wheelbase, to 110.6 inches.You can tell on the inside that this car is larger - it's a bit more comfortable. Also, the ride quality seems to be enhanced by the added size.This model aims to combine luxury sophistication with a dose of athleticism.
For example, the longer wheelbase and hood give the A4 a more commanding stance on the road.Where the previous A4 may have been somewhat lacking in body firmness, this one has taken a step forward in that area. But Audi says it actually weighs less, thanks to some high-tech engineering that we suppose would be the automotive equivalent of NutriSystem.Inside, the design is classy, not gaudy.
Light flows pleasantly through the interior, you'll appreciate, as always, Audi's great fit and finish and the controls are sensibly placed. It's a fairly nimble machine when it comes to performance, but of course it doesn't quite have the performance characteristics that we love so much about some of Audi's more sports-car oriented offerings.
The new A4 comes with a 3.2-liter V-6 engine that makes 265 horsepower and 243 pounds-feet of torque.Or you can get the 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo that serves up 211 horses and 258 pounds-feet of torque.Audi says both engines use the FSI direct fuel injection technology.
Our tester was the six-banger, which we found to be powerful and smooth, but perhaps not thrilling. The good news is that Audi says these engines drink approximately nine percent less fuel than those in the previous generation. With the six-cylinder, we got about 19 mpg in a mix of city and highway driving. Overall, the on-the-road experience is pretty good.
It's been quite some time since we drove the previous A4, but this one really does seem to handle better and feel lighter on its feet.But the past few Audis we've driven, even including the hulking Q7 SUV, just seemed to be a little more inclined toward the wow factor.
But, maybe Audi isn't trying as much to reach the wow-seekers with this model.Natural competitors would be sedans such as the BMW 3 Series and Infiniti G35.We can say that from a driver's perspective, those two are a little more entertaining.But the A4 offers a better value proposition than the BMW. Our tester carried a sticker price of around $41,000. A similarly equipped 3-Series sedan went for nearly $44,000, according to a few Internet searches we did.
The exterior also doesn't offer much that you would say stands out. Again, maybe Audi sees the A4 buyer as a more reserved sort, think accountant rather than jazz musician.But one little piece of bling we did love was the string of pearls-type LED lights underlining the headlights.
We first saw Audi use this on the R8 supercar, and now we hope it becomes a consistent part of the German brand's design language.As far as creature comforts, the ones you would expect are in place, such as heated, leather seats, a very impressive Bang & Olufsen sound system and Audi's MMI control system, which isn't too hard to figure out. Safety features are plentiful too, including a blind-spot warning system. So, if it's good, solid luxury transportation that you seek, and bling ain't necessarily your thing, check out the A4.