2009 Audi A4 Performance
This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.
The 2009 Audi A4 is engineered for handling balance, not pure speed. Both engines are slightly less powerful than similar offerings from rivals. Reviewers tend to focus on two pieces of optional equipment, however, that pull the A4 into the top rank of performance sedans - its available Quattro All-Wheel-Drive system, and Audi Drive Select, which allows the driver to choose from three performance profiles that change the car's responsiveness. Without those, the A4 trails much of its competition. With them, it's among the finest sport sedans available at this price point.
- "It's fun to flog or just set on the radar-supported cruise control and listen to the 505-watt Bang and Olufsen stereo through 14 speakers. That's not driving, it's showing off." -- Detroit News
- "Excellent handling because of Quattro, Audi Drive Select, and a new rear differential marks the 2009 Audi A4 3.2 Quattro all-wheel-drive came standard on our 3.2-liter V-6 model, and is also now standard on the 2-liter turbo-charged version. We also had the Audi Drive Select option, which gives the car a dual personality as a sport driver and commute car." -- CNET
- "Audi's Drive Select system stands in stark contrast to the majority of dynamic suspension setups on the market. Toggle between the three modes and you'll actually feel the difference through the steering wheel, accelerator and suspension." -- Autoblog
- "The vehicle's mass and slightly nose-heavy layout conspire to keep it a step behind BMW's 3 Series in terms of ultimate performance, but the A4's AWD provides added security and traction in wet weather conditions." -- Edmunds
- "The new model has a planted, sportier stance and holds the road with a new sense of confidence and enthusiasm." -- Motor Trend
- "The Audi feels typically solid and composed, even in a driving rain. The car is a tad less nose-heavy than before, since more of the engine's weight is tucked behind the front axle. " -- New York Times
- Features several systems that are virtually brand new, including the trick Audi Drive Select -- a system to incrementally sharpen the car's sporting responses (steering, transmission shift points, suspension stiffness). Other hot-off-the-workbench technologies: dynamic steering (providing small degrees of counter-steering correction as the car reaches the limits of handling)...a longer wheelbase means a smoother ride. It's all good." -- Los Angeles Times
Acceleration and Power
The Audi A4 is available with two brand new engines. A 2.0-liter inline-four-cylinder with a pair of turbochargers makes 211 horsepower. A 3.2-liter V6 puts out 265 hp. Neither is among the most powerful engines in this class, though both move the heavy car with plenty of passing power. The only transmission offered is a six-speed automatic with manual shift capability. The EPA estimates that four-cylinder A4s get 23 miles to the gallon in the city, 30 on the highway (though Quattro versions are rated for 22/30). V6 models get 17/26 mpg.
- "Of the two engines, I like the 2-liter turbo more. The low-end torque makes it more fun coming out of tight corners and it has plenty left in reserve. Plus, Europeans seem to love their four-bangers -- and as we watch Ike blast gas prices above $4 a gallon again, Americans are starting to embrace them." -- Detroit News
- "The A4 isn't the fastest car in its class (that would be General Motors' new Cadillac CTS-V), but it's quick enough for most people. Top speed is governed at 130 mph, and in my test car the turbocharger kicked in with no discernible lag when I punched the gas." -- BusinessWeek
- "Even with the new engines, the A4 isn't going to win any drag races. That said, acceleration is smooth, and the shifts from the six-speed automatic transmission are consistent." -- Edmunds
- "The new V-6 consumes ten percent less fuel than the outgoing version, and it clips 0.5 second off the 0-to-62-mph acceleration time (which is now 6.2 seconds)." -- Automobile Magazine
- "Sure, the Audi Valvelift System (AVS) improves fuel economy, and the direct-injected 3.2-liter V-6 does have 10 more horses than last year's 3.1-liter (265 bhp; torque remains at 243 lb.-ft., but spread over a wider band). But most of the A4's competition use 3.5-liter sixes or, in the case of BMW's 335i - turbocharging. As such, the 335i smokes the A4 by 1.2 seconds to 60 and the Mercedes C350 Sport bests it by almost a half second (although let's be honest: the Audi's 6.2-sec. run isn't exactly turtle-like)." -- Road and Track
Handling and Braking
Audis have always earned their reputation on twisting roads, and the A4 is the most advanced Audi sedan yet. Even stripped-down models boast respectable handling, but with the available Quattro AWD system and Audi's new Driver Select adjustable suspension, this A4 is one of the most balanced and enthusiastic handlers available. The press falls in love with the car on the skidpad and the test track.
- +"Be flippant with your option-checking pen (our test car was a fully-loaded European model) and you can make your A4 handle better than the competition. The car's high limits are proven by its stellar 0.90g around the skidpad, while its ability to change directions is exhibited by a 69.1-mph run through the slalom cones - faster than the BMW 335i." -- Road and Track
- "The biggest single surprise was the new dynamic steering, which works much better than the black-and-white active steering offered by BMW...it's neither too quick in town nor too heavy and slow on the autostrada." -- Automobile Magazine
- "The new all-wheel-drive system controls traction better near the car's limits, reducing the need for the stability control hardware to intervene with braking. But what may be the most impressive innovation of the new sedan is Audi drive select." -- Motor Trend
- "The Quattro system proved itself on this wet and winding road. The car didn't flinch from its line in the turns as the tires retained grip, but coming into one turn a little hot, we steered in too hard, and felt just a touch of front wheel drag as the car tried to go along its inertial line, rather than the way we pointed it. But this slip lasted for less than a second as the car got itself back together and carried us around the turn. " -- CNET
- The Drive Select system "actually makes a difference in the handling of the car. In some cars -- the Porsche 911, for instance -- the adjustable suspension buttons don't seem like they are connected to anything...but with the system on Comfort, the A4 (with the optional 18-inch wheels and summer tires) practically floats, recovering from road imperfections in buoyant gentle swells....Put the system on Sport, however, and the ride gets hard and leathery. Get thee to a snaky country road, and quick." -- Los Angeles Times
- "It feels more balanced and solid on the road than the previous A4, and the optional Drive Select system, which allows the driver to choose among 'comfort,' 'automatic' and 'dynamic' settings, works surprisingly well. I tried it many times on the fly and switching to the 'dynamic' setting always instantly and noticeably hardened the suspension." -- BusinessWeek
- "The A4's handling was innately clean enough even in "comfort" mode that tightening things up is more or less unnecessary. Enthusiasts like us will find the "dynamic" setting preferable, but it's a hair-splitting difference really." -- Car and Driver