- Smart profile.
- Impeccable build quality inside and out.
- Loaded with interior gizmos.
- All-wheel-drive handling.
- Silky smooth engine.
- Controversial front end styling.
- Needs rear-wheel-drive to beat BMW.
- No manual offered with Quattro models.
- Falls short on power.
- Tight rear seat room.
Press Coverage :
The A4 represents Audis new model generation in the premium midsize segment that is obvious at first glance. The front-end styling of both sedan and Avant models is new, with the addition of the characteristic Audi single-frame grille. The rear end, with its emphatically horizontal lines, and the sides, where the shoulder line accentuates the panels in an emphatically sporty manner, are new.
The vehicles' technology lives up to the promise made by its new exterior styling. Innovative and highly sophisticated technologies are an integral part of practically all vehicle areas and components: the optional xenon plus headlights with pivoting dynamic adaptive light technology, continuously variable multitronic® transmission, quattro® all-wheel drive and the revolutionary FSI (Fuel Straight Injection) engine technology.
A new performance-oriented engine is available in the new A4 sedan and Avant. The 3.2 V6 FSI, which made its production debut in the new Audi A6 in November, has all the features of an ultramodern engine--FSI gasoline direct injection with demand-controlled fuel supply, a variable intake manifold and continuous camshaft adjustment on both the intake and the exhaust side.
This V6 engine delivers 255 horsepower at 6,500 revolutions per minute. Its peak torque of 243 lb-ft is available at 3,250 rpm. More than 90 percent of the engine's peak torque is available in the wide range between 1,900 and 5,900 rpm - a unique characteristic for a naturally aspirated V6. The A4 3.2 FSI is available with a six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic ® and quattro all-wheel drive.
FSI engines develop more power than conventional units with indirect fuel injection - and they do so with a very high standard of fuel economy. With the increase in efficiency achieved here, Audi has opened up a new dimension in the efficiency of standard spark-ignition engines and once again demonstrated the proverbial progress through technology familiar to the brand.
FSI direct gas injection has confirmed its unique potential several times over in what must be the most challenging endurance test in the world: an engine with FSI direct injection powers the Le Mans-winning Audi R8.
How does the FSI technology differ operationally from a conventional engine? The term "fuel direct injection" makes the central feature clear: in contrast to indirect injection, the fuel is injected directly into the combustion chamber. A common rail high-pressure injection system with a newly developed single-piston high-pressure pump operating on demand ensures exactly the right supply of fuel, delivering precisely the volume required for building up operating pressure between 30 and 110 bar.
In the intake tract, also comprising the two-stage variable intake manifold, moving charge-movement flaps provide the necessary tumble effect, swirling the induced air around depending on operating point. In order to achieve the high specific power and torque values, a new combustion process has been developed. Together with the optimum geometry of the combustion chambers and the dosage of fuel injected with supreme accuracy down to the last millisecond, this allows a significant increase in compression.
The new A4 has grown slightly compared with its predecessor. The front end with its more substantial single-frame grille and new bumpers accounts for part of this additional length.
The new design elements, however, are even more eye-catching, especially at the front end: the striking single-frame grille and the newly styled clear-glass headlights with their sweeping bottom edge and inward taper give the new Audi A4 and S4 a completely new face. The bumpers, which are fully painted in the body color at both front and rear, are also a new design. Thanks to their greater bulge and the fact that they reach a long way down, they accentuate the new model's low center of gravity, seemingly bringing the car closer to the road.
The new A4's cockpit is characterized by lines extending a long way into the door trim and center console areas, which quite literally appear to embrace the driver. This "wrap around" effect, to use the designers' technical term, is accentuated additionally by the A4's high waistline. This feature is something that many customers value very highly, not least because of the remarkable sense of security that it imparts.
The architecture of the dashboard and center console also provide scope for positioning a wide range of instruments and controls high up, in other words ideally within the driver's field of vision. This is an ergonomic strategy that is adopted in every aircraft cockpit for very good reasons. The lines of the driving area create a lively interplay of distinctly rounded, tangible shapes and graphically clear edges and notches. This area is thus divided up into clearly defined zones. These can be distinguished at a glance--a worthwhile ergonomic bonus that speeds up intuitive access to the individual information units and function groups.
The most important controls for the occupants' well-being are located in the center console: dual automatic climate control, audio system, and the optional navigation system plus. Available only in the United States and Canada is a specially designed center console with dual cupholders with size adjustable tabs and an extra 12-volt power outlet.
There is more room than average for luggage in the A4 sedan with a capacity of 13.4 cu. ft. The smooth-floored luggage compartment is well-equipped for tackling challenging transport tasks. And with a large distance between the wheel arches, there is plenty of room even for bulky loads.
By design, the A4 Avant's load area offers a full range of ingenious details such as a net for small items, chrome-plated load-securing lugs, a storage compartment behind a cover in the left side panel, an easily accessible 12V power socket in the side panel and an active light in the tailgate that also illuminates the area behind the vehicle.
The body of the new Audi A4 is based on a unitary steel structure with integrated aluminium components. The percentage by weight accounted for by plastics and the use of the lightweight materials aluminium and magnesium is considerable.
A further decisive measure with a low vehicle weight in mind is the expansive use of high-strength and very high-strength sheet-metal panels, which make up a total of 45 percent of the bodyshell weight.
In the new A4 sedan and Avant, dynamics and comfort, easy handling and active safety are at the very highest level. This road behavior is the result of extensive modifications in the area of elastokinematics as well as to the spring and shock absorber settings.
The predecessor's tried-and-test basic geometry has been adopted at both front and rear: four-link front suspension and the highly complex self-tracking trapezoidal-link rear suspension. Both consist primarily of light-alloy components resulting in a low unsprung mass.
On the four-link front suspension layout, each wheel is located by four aluminum control arms. Large-volume rubber components are used as the damper mounts on the new suspension design. This helps to effectively isolate the shock absorbers acoustically.
Several mounts as well as the considerably stiffer track rods on the front suspension have been adopted from the high-performance S4. The mounts for the control arm originate from the new Audi A6.
The trapezoidal-link rear suspension makes for top-quality ride comfort on all models, coupled with dynamic behavior that will amaze the driver of many a competing model. The trapezoidal link is made from hollow-section aluminium. This torsionally and flexurally rigid control arm absorbs a large portion of the forces acting on the wheel. Together with the track rod located behind it, it thus determines the elastokinematic behavior of the axle.
This design is notable for its low weight as well as its outstanding space efficiency. The compact design permits a low load-area floor in all versions, coupled with a generous load-area width.
All versions of the Audi A4 have disc brakes at the front and rear; the front discs are ventilated. Their dimensions have been adapted to the increased performance potential of the new generation of engines. Excellent controllability, spontaneous response and above all considerably reduced braking distances are the result.
The all-new Audi A4 sedan and Avant come standard with hydraulic rack-and-pinion steering featuring speed-dependent power assistance, Servotronic®.
The development goal here was to provide the highest conceivable standard of sporty steering precision and improved steering comfort. The refined Servotronic system enables the driver to maneuver into parking spaces with a minimum of steering effort and maximum accuracy, and also provides a clear response from the road at higher speeds. The system also offers a high level of sensitivity around the straight-ahead position and even more comfortable initial response behavior.
All-new Audi A4 models come with the latest Electronic Stabilization Program, ESP®. This system comprises ABS brakes with Electronic Brake-pressure Distribution (EBD) and hydraulic brake assist which automatically increases brake power when the driver applies the brakes in an emergency. The traction control system (ASR) interacts with the electronic differential lock (EDL) to provide efficient yaw control as the foundation for enhanced ESP safety.
Yet another new feature is the brake disc wiping function integrated into ESP. This new function helps to keep the brake discs largely dry on wet roads even when the driver does not apply the brakes for a relatively long time.
To provide this effect, the brake linings are pressed against the discs under low hydraulic pressure at regular intervals, ensuring even more spontaneous brake response under wet conditions, too. This process goes unnoticed by the driver.
The new Audi A4 remains faithful to the manufacturer's best tradition of safety. After all, its predecessor was one of the very best in its class in this respect. A rigid body structure and meticulously calculated deformation properties, in conjunction with ultra-modern restraint systems - such as the new two-stage front airbags - and outstanding technical concepts such as the Sideguard™ head-level airbag system, created an outstanding level of occupant safety.
The new Audi A4 is positioned in the midsize luxury segment. It stands out for a range of standard equipment with quality and comfort attributes that would not be out of place in the premium class.
There is a choice more than 10 body colors for the new Audi A4. The interior also satisfies virtually every design requirement. Aluminum finish silver inlays for the center console or, Walnut brown and vavona wood inlays are available. The optional Audi Navigation Plus system, which uses a DVD drive, helps the driver find the fastest route from A to B. Its operating principle follows the same clear logic as the Audi MMI, familiar from the A8 and A6.
The 6.5-inch color display shows the map and the visual route description, while the driver information ystem translates the corresponding directions into pictograms and adds information on directions, distances and arrival time.
The optional BOSE® sound system with AudioPilot noise compensation additionally provides a concert hall atmosphere in the A4.
The Audi range of unique options also offers perfect solutions for when the sun goes down: the best examples are the xenon plus headlights with outstanding dipped and main xenon beams and automatic-dynamic headlight range control. They illuminate the area in front of the car evenly and intensively.
Even better visibility on the road is ensured by adaptive light including xenon plus. Featuring swivel headlight units, this dynamic cornering light system activates effectively from a speed of about 7 mph and illuminates twists and turns in the road far more than a tradition lighting system. Daytime running lights, which can also be deactivated manually if required, complete the lighting package.
Audi of America
Depending on the road, the new A4 comes off as either superlative or merely very good. We were lucky enough to test the A4 over the famed Targa Florio route, identical to that of one of the most celebrated endurance races of all time. The most lasting impression is how incredibly bumpy the track is, literally a paved motocross track.
Under such conditions, the new A4 is marvellous, its long-travel, relatively soft suspension (compared to a Bimmer or Merc) soaking up the bumps, mid- corner even, that would leave lesser cars flouncing and bouncing.
On flatter stretches, though, that same suspension tuning limits cornering. Not as flat through high-speed esses as a 3 Series, the A4 also pushes the front end more than the rear-drive BMW. That said, most people will never get to play speed demons over the Targa Florio, so ride comfort is a more apt judgment of the A4's suspension.
Besides, if you want more road holding, as of the fall of 2005 (the car itself will be on sale in March of next year), you will be able to order Audi's S-Line package, which features Audi AG Sport suspension and 18-inch alloy rims. The suspension is much firmer and cornering remains much flatter at speed. You pay the price in suspension compliance, though.
Sticking to the asphalt becomes a simpler task as Audi has reworked the front and rear suspensions. A6-sourced engine mounts, stiffer track rods, and new shocks compose the new bits up front; the rear borrows the S4s trapezoidal links and wheel carriers. It all adds up to a car that offers better ride quality than its predecessor, plus improved handling and nimbleness. Increased steering precision is a result of a new electric-assist servotronic steering system, which makes for minimum steering efforts at parking-lot speeds and better accuracy and response when at higher velocities. Even with all the chassis and steering improvements, the A4 still falls a bit short of the overall prowess exhibited by BMW's 3 Series and will likely only catch up if and when this platform switches to rear drive.
2002-2005 Audi A4 3.0 Quattro
2,976 cc / 220 hp / 221 lb-ft / 3462 lbs / 0-60 mph 7.1 sec.
1996-2001 Audi A4 2.8 Quattro
2,771 cc / 190 hp / 207 lb-ft / 3263 lbs / 0-60 mph 7.0 sec.