Although I’m partial to trucks and SUVs, if I had a change of heart and had to buy a sedan, it would definitely be an AWD model, as it’s needed here in the Snowbelt.
And one stand out in the AWD category is Audi’s A4 midsize sedan with Audi’s famed Quattro permanent AWD system featuring a 40/60 torque split. It also has ORD (offroad detection) which detects the condition of the driving surface and adapts the control characteristics of the ESC stabilization control system, says Audi.
ORD is somewhat deceiving since no one would take a beautiful A4 offroad. It merely means it has the added traction capability when needed in situations where the wheels would lose traction. And with 7.09 inches of undercarriage clearance, the A4 quattro can negotiate some relatively deep snow.
The 2012 A4 I tested, and as all A4s, comes with a 2.0-liter, 211-hp turbocharged four-cylinder that generates a whopping 258 lb/ft of torque. Now that’s impressive for a four-banger. And it’s coupled to a class leading 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission with manual shift capability.
Unlike a lot of four’s, Audi’s 2.0L is relatively quiet at idle and at speed and propels the sedan with vigor. There is, no want for power. And the slick shifting 8-speed automatic Tiptronic transmission helps the A4 achieve EPA mileage ratings of 21 city, 29-highway mpg.
A4s ride is complaint, planted and smooth on 17-inch tires. It exhibits a little less road feel than a BMW 3-Series, which all sedans of this class are compared. It parks easily and has a tight turning radius. Handling is tight and there’s virtually negligible body lean in sharp turns taken at speed.
As for accommodations, A4’s cabin is first rate for an entry-level luxury class vehicle. Genuine leather is used for the seats, which isn’t the case for it’s German and Bavarian competitors’ cabins in this entry-level class. The interior is adorned with brushed aluminum and real wood trim on dash, doors and console. The console box lid slides fore and aft to expose a second cup holder.
The front bucket seats are supportive and comfy while the backs can seat two adults or a youngster in the middle as a high center hump precludes a third adult. Ingress/egress in back is easy thanks to wide opening doors.
While the A4 offers a lot of amenities, there are a few minuses. For instance, the HVAC system requires some extra, unnecessary steps. To change the fan speed you must first press the “fan” button then dial in the speed you desire. This function should be a one step operation. And when I set the radio’s volume control at “2”, it reset to a louder “8” setting when shutting down and then turning on the engine. This could probably be corrected, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it. Perhaps I should have asked my 8-year old computer literate granddaughter.
Oh yes. The ignition key is actually a thick plastic fob that’s inserted into a wide slot on the dash. If you lose it, expect to pay a small fortune for a replacement.
Trunk space is spacious for a small car. It’s rated at 12 cubic feet but could be expanded if the seatbacks would fold. As is, the trunk can hold two medium size roll-a-longs or two golf bags.
Starting off at a base price of $34,600, adding metallic blue paint ($475); Style Package ($1,100) that includes xenon front lighting, famed LED running lights (that almost every car maker has now copied), aluminum window surrounds and polished exhaust finishers; Convenience Package ($1,000) with iPod cabling, garage door opener and prep for Bluetooth; heated front seats ($450) and dark walnut inlays ($350), the A4 showed a bottom line of $38,850 with delivery.
While they’re too extensive to list, the A4’s base price included a host of safety and driver convenience items. Missing though were a GPS Nav and rearview camera system, which many lesser priced, lesser quality sedans are including.
A4 is also offered in 2.0T premium, 2.0T Premium Quattro, and 2.0T Avant Premium Quattro models.
The A4 received a “Good” safety rating by the Institute of Highway Safety and three government stars for frontal (driver) crash, four for passenger; four for front seat side crash, five for rear seat; and five for rollover.
To test drive an A4 stop by Knopf Automotive on Lehigh Street in Allentown. And to automatically receive auto news and reviews from Nick Hromiak, click on the “Subscribe” notation on this page.