Audi A4 Performance
The Audi A4 is widely regarded as among the best-performing sedans built today. "This is a sweet ride," says Car and Driver, "it attacks the road."
Car and Driver continues, "Here's a car that will compensate for all sorts of driver errors without complaint or excessive stability-control intrusion -- and in total comfort. For the guy who indulges his inner racer for about 10 minutes every other month, the A4 is a friend indeed."
The A4 is available with a choice of two engines -- a 2.0 liter, turbocharged four-cylinder, or a 3.2-liter V6. Transmission options include a six-speed manual, a six-speed Tiptronic® automatic with manual shift mode, or a Multitronic continuously variable transmission. Audi's highly-regarded quattro all-wheel drive system is available as well.
Acceleration and Power
The A4 is available with two engines, both of which are well-liked by reviewers. The 2.0-liter, direct-injected, turbocharged four-cylinder puts out 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. Car and Driver says "this is a fresh design using direct injection of gasoline into the combustion chamber, combined with a turbocharger and an uncommonly high 10.5:1 compression ratio. Full torque, all 207 pound-feet of it, is on tap from 1800 rpm to 5000. That's a broad torque curve...it's the most refined and linear turbo four I've ever revved." Edmunds finds that "the 2.0T is a little light on torque down low, but once the tach sees 2,500 rpm, there's plenty of pull on tap." The four-cylinder's performance is impressive enough that Motor Trend wonders "Could Audi have gotten away with not offering a V-6 option at all?" and answers itself with market demands - the V6 is offered not out of any need for more performance, but "because Mercedes and the others all offer sixes."
The 3.2-liter V6 is no afterthought, however, putting out 255 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque. "Plenty of power hails from the V-6, in a civilized manner," praises Cars.com.
The array of engines, transmissions and drive platforms can be confusing. The 2.0T is available as a front-wheel drive model with the manual transmission, or the Multitronic CVT. It is available with quattro all-wheel drive and the manual transmission, or the Tiptronic® automatic. The 3.2 is available as a front-wheel drive model, but only with the Multitronic CVT. As a quattro all-wheel drive model, it can be purchased with either the manual transmission or the Tiptronic®. Cabriolet models can be purchased with the 2.0T engine and Multitronic CVT, or Tiptronic® automatic. The Cabriolet is available with the 3.2-liter engine and the Tiptronic® automatic transmission. There is no manual transmission option on the A4 Cabriolet.
The six-speed manual transmission available on all A4's equipped with quattro all-wheel drive is a considerable improvement over Audi's previous, five-speed manual, with what Car and Driver calls "much shorter and smoother throws and a fluid motion through the maze."
The six-speed automatic Tiptronic® transmission is well-regarded. Automobile.com notes that "There is a choice between Drive and Sport modes, the latter which holds gears longer and is more willing to kick down when the driver calls for acceleration. If neither of these settings feels involving enough, Audi invites you to shift gears on your own via a particularly responsive Tiptronic manu-matic mode. "
While many manufacturers have struggled to build a CVT transmission up to the standards of a performance car, Audi's Multitronic transmission is a particular triumph. Cars.com says "Audi's ultra-smooth Multitronic CVT works masterfully and subtly. After slight hesitation during takeoff, the car moves ahead with some haste. Passing attempts at low speeds, however, sometimes yield a shortfall of response. You hear a little engine noise while accelerating with the CVT, but not much" Car and Driver adds that "the 2.0 four pairs especially happily with the CVT; it gives fast responses when you put your foot down, unlike the automatic, which always has to think, however briefly, about kicking down."
Handling and Braking
Reviewers seem to agree that the A4's handling is the car's strongest characteristic. "The A4 is solid and appealing, joyfully tackling twisting roads and taking every turn in stride. Despite a taut suspension, the ride is magnificent on smooth roads and recovery is swift when you hit a bump," reports Cars.com.
Audi makes a performance version of the A4, sold and priced separately, and known as the S4. With the latest redesign, Audi brought much of the S4's chassis and suspension to the A4. "The S4 has a connectedness that seems to zero out the suspension's reflex time. You make the corrections; they happen instantly," says Car and Driver. "Now we feel the S4's poise and controllability in the A4, too, for about $20,000 less... we pushed harder and harder around one of our clandestine test loops, enjoying the flat cornering, the trusty balance that comes from Quattro torque distribution to all four tires, and the exceptionally predictable breakaway characteristics."
Audi says that more than 85 percent of the A4s it sells will come equipped with the manufacturer's well-known quattro all-wheel drive system. "Rounding out the drive train is Audi's stellar Quattro all-wheel drive system. Whether the roads are slick or bone dry, Quattro makes the most out of the traction available, allowing aggressive cornering speeds and the ability to get back into the throttle quite early on corner exit," according to Automobile.com. "Thanks to its available Quattro all-wheel-drive system, the A4 is capable of providing both enhanced traction on slippery roads and better road-holding on dry pavement," says Edmunds.
The quattro all-wheel drive is so integral to the performance of the A4 that many reviewers credit the system, in part, for the car's excellent handling dynamics and acceleration. Driving the 2.0T, Car and Driver comments "Pull into traffic smartly, using Quattro traction to put all the power down, and acceleration is enough to put you into the first-gear redline before you're fully straight in the lane." CNET offers "Audi's all-wheel-drive Quattro system gives the 2007 Audi A4 2.0 T incredible handling, its most impressive feature." Shoppers should keep in mind that the vast majority of reviewers drive quattro editions of the A4, and the handling dynamics of the rarer front-wheel drive A4s may not be precisely the same as those praised in so many reviews.