Test Drive Notes Library
- Ride comfort. Audi’s ride comfort is usually pretty good, if on the firm side of comfortable. With the redesigned 2017 A4, it's a notch closer to straight-out comfortable now, without giving up any handling attributes. The A4 absorbs bumps easily and smoothly—it even passed the speed bump test with flying colors. We mostly drove it in “Automatic” drive mode. You can also choose Comfort or Dynamic, too. Dynamic is Audi’s term for uncomfortable. The Automatic setting seemed to leave it in Comfort most of the time, which is where most people will want it.
- Handling is typically good for Audi. Steering is precise, cornering is excellent, with no body lean. Maneuvering it and parking in city traffic is easy. It’s sporty and fun to drive, even in Automatic suspension mode. An excellent all-wheel-drive system is available for those who live in slip-slidey America.
- Dual-clutch transmission. We’ve driven a bunch of dual-clutch automatic transmissions over the last few years (they purport to add both responsiveness and fuel economy), and many of them were flawed. They would shift abruptly at low speed, or cause an unexpected lurch. The Audi’s is the best we’ve driven to date. It feels like an excellent automatic transmission. It goes mostly unnoticed, which is what you want from an automatic transmission.
- Great interior. It feels like a comfortable room you enjoy spending time in. It feels high end, but not claustrophobic or overly decorated. A nice place to spend that part of your life that you spend driving. Front seats are very comfortable. In addition, it’s nice and quiet, even on the highway.
- Visibility is pretty good. The cabin feels airy, and open.
- Tech. Audi offers something they’re calling a “virtual cockpit.” It replaces the instrument cluster with a high-quality screen, and computer-generates the speedometer, tachometer, and other relevant information. It’s somewhat configurable, so if you want the navigation map to be large, you can reduce the size of the speedo and tach to make room. It’s a nice idea, and it works. The quality of the screen is such that there really is no difference between seeing the speedometer on the screen and seeing a real, live speedometer.
- Heads up display. The Audi has an optional Heads Up Display that projects key information, like speed, in the driver’s field of vision, appearing as if it’s sitting at the front end of the hood. It’s helpful.
- Excellent safety options. Not cheap, but you can get all of the safety features you want and, in our opinion, should have now. Forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and more.
- Very good, clear, high-quality back-up camera that comes on quickly and works very well.
Test Drive Notes Library
- Questions about tech reliability. We love the “virtual cockpit,” but anyone want to guess what it’s going to cost to replace if that screen or computer buys the farm? Or how long it’s typical lifetime will be? We won’t know the answer to that last question for several years, at least.
- Automatic shifter is a little weird. I guess the problem is that it looks exactly like a standard automatic shift lever, but it doesn’t operate like it. You push it forward for Reverse, pull it back for Drive. Then you push a button on the handle for Park. In a week of testing, we never quite got used to it.
- Although the redesigned A4 is a scoche larger than the old one, it’s still on the small end of mid-sized. Rear seat room is adequate, but by no means copious. There are carve outs in the front seat-backs to create more knee room. But taller people will feel the headliner.
- It looks exactly the same as the old Audi A4. Whereas Audis often seem somewhat fashionable, this redesign is particularly conservative. And the car itself is fairly conservative looking. That’s neither good nor bad, unless you want people to know you ran out and got the newest Audi.
- Fuel economy: EPA estimated fuel economy is very good. 25 city, 33 highway, 28 overall. But we got a lot less than that. Granted it was almost all city driving, but our average was closer to 19 or 20. We’ll be curious to see what others report as more of these new A4s get on the road.
- Price: As Ricky would say, “That’s ’spensive, Lucy.” With the Premium package, Technology Package and a few other add-ons, the sticker price of our test A4 was 51 large. Sure, it’s comparable to fully loaded competitors like BMW and Mercedes, but those are expensive, too.
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