2008 Audi A4 Performance
This performance review was written when the 2008 Audi A4 was new.
The 2008 Audi A4's performance score is squarely mid-pack in our upscale midsize car list, but its mannerisms on the road are well-respected by the majority. In addition, many test drivers report the A4's famous quattro all-wheel drive system is the best the class has to offer.
- "If you think a bona fide premium sports sedan has rear-wheel drive and a normally aspirated, non-turbo engine -- like the Mercedes-Benz C350, Infiniti G35 and Lexus IS 350 -- you may find the Audi A4 a little impure for your tastes." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "The 2008 Audi A4 combines nimble performance with sprightly handling." -- CNET
- "Handling response and steering feel almost match the BMW 3-Series, but understeer is still pervasive and body control isn't perfect." -- Car and Driver
- "The Audi A4 offers good handling and response, making it a lot of fun on winding roads. It's extremely stable at high speeds, as one might expect from a bigger, heavier car. Its engines range from spry and economical to Holy Cow! with gas guzzler tax. The A4 is Audi's counterpoint to the BMW 3 Series, and we'd venture that each is the other's most obvious, direct competitor in the market place. The A4 is clearly competitive with the 3 in the quantifiable, objective measures. Much of the subjective and visceral is present and accountable, too. Even where it follows a different track, it doesn't stray too far." -- New Car Test Drive
Acceleration and Power
The Audi 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. According to reviews, any combination of engine or transmission is well suited for high-spirited drivers. According to the EPA, the Audi A4's 2.0-liter engine should achieve 21 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway when equipped with an automatic transmission, and 20 mpg in the city, 31 on the highway with the six-speed manual. Using the 3.2-liter engine, the A4 should achieve 18 mpg in the city, 27 on the highway.
- "If you like the idea of paying thousands less for a European sports sedan that is as frugal with fuel as it is quick off the line, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better choice than the A4." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "Compromises are few, but they do exist. Neither A4 engine is a powerhouse, for instance, as the turbocharged 2.0-liter is somewhat lacking when it comes to off-the-line torque and the 255-horsepower V6 is increasingly outclassed by competitors putting out more than 300 hp." -- Edmunds
- "Plenty of power hails from the V-6, in a civilized manner. Strong performance with the turbocharged four-cylinder is devoid of turbo lag, and it's a tad more spirited. The manual gearbox shifts easily, and Audi's automatic transmission works without any harshness. 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." -- Cars.com
- "On the performance front, the turbocharged 2-liter A4 still holds its own against much of the larger-displacement competition" -- CNET
- "Those who do will find the Tiptronic falls a bit short in the manumatic game, mostly because it will not allow full manual control of the shifts. An algorithm in the powertrain management computer shifts up a gear to put the engine at the optimum point in the torque curve, and a button beneath the gas pedal shifts down a gear when mashed, as when passing or accelerating up a grade. This is an impressive application of computerization, but it mocks the Tiptronic's promise of a manual-override automatic. In practice, the downshift is occasionally helpful, but the upshift is disconcerting when it occurs in the middle of a corner." -- New Car Test Drive
Handling and Braking
Reviewers generally agree the A4's handling is its strongest characteristic. Many of the improvements made to the A4 in recent years have to do with the transferal of suspension and chassis from the sportier S4 into the calmer-tuned A4.
- - "Hard-core enthusiasts might also criticize the A4's handling, which is softer and less responsive than the premier sport sedans in this price range. However, many buyers will find that the Audi's high level of feedback compensates for its somewhat slower reflexes." -- Edmunds
- "The base suspension with 16- or 17-inch tires provides firm control and mostly good bump absorption." -- Consumer Guide
- "Ride quality, both around town and on the expressway, is good." -- AutoWeek
- The Truth About Cars tested the A4 without quattro all-wheel-drive. "While the A4 offers an excellent balance between law enforcement-compatible handling and premium price-compliant ride comfort, and the brakes are as dependable as a federal tax collector" -- The Truth About Cars
All Wheel Drive
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, which many critics credit as the key ingredient to the car's excellent handling dynamics and acceleration.
- "Optional quattro all-wheel drive is a bonus for snow belt residents. … When sunny skies turn to rainy weather the all-weather traction advantages of the renowned quattro all-wheel-drive system are much appreciated and, even in dry weather, we could feel its calming influence while negotiating curving on-ramps and the like." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "On the move, the A4 has a solid feel to it, an attribute no doubt helped by the car's commonly fitted Quattro all-wheel-drive system." -- Edmunds
- "Whether winding up the engine on the exit to a long sweeping turn, or squeezing the gas pedal into a hard 90-degree corner, the Quattro-equipped A4 grips the road with a delightful surefootedness. Quattro is so effective that it almost encourages drivers to attack turns with more vigor, just to see just how much traction the car can manage." -- CNET
- "Buying an Audi sedan without Quattro all wheel-drive is like dating a Swedish brunette." -- The Truth About Cars