In the early 90′s, Audi couldn’t sell a car in the United States to save their life. Then along came the A4, reviving sales, and ultimately Audi’s foothold in the luxury car segment in the U.S. The A4 is to Audi what the iPod was to Apple. This allowed Audi to live on, letting them develop some of the best new cars on the road, including the Audi S5, the popular TT, and everyone’s favorite everyday supercar, the R8.
No longer needing to revive the brand, Audi’s new A4 sedan and Avant (wagon) sets it’s sights on the Mercedes C Class and BMW 3 Series, working hard to make it the ultimate choice for an affordable luxury car. And it does exactly that. Starting at $32,700, the new A4 offers some excellent features and a great ride for under $40,000.
The first thing you notice about the new A4 is that it’s bigger than the previous model. The width has increased by 2.1″, the length by 4.6″, the track by 1.8″, and the wheelbase by 6.6″. The difference is noticeable, and gives the Audi A4 an overall size advantage against the other German competitors.
For 2009, Audi introduces an all-new 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder, which offers an impressive 211 horsepower and 258 lb/ft of torque, while still getting 30 MPG on the highway. The revised 3.2-liter V6 engine pushes out 265 horsepower and gets 26 MPG on the highway. The 2.0T will be available with either a FWD or Quattro drivetrain offering a 6-speed Tiptronic, 6-speed manual, or multitronic (CVT) transmissions (CVT only on FWD,) while the 3.2L V6 will only be available with the Tiptronic transmission and Quattro system.
Audi pulls another Starbucks-type move with the trim levels, calling the base model “Premium” then going up from there (much like Starbucks calls their small cup a “Tall.”) The “Premium” trim gets you standard sunroof, leather, 17″ alloy wheels, standard climate control, 1CD stereo system, and a standard auxiliary jack for plugging your MP3 player into the stereo. Looks like Audi finally realized that there are more MP3 players than just iPods.
Most people will go with the “Premium Plus” trim, which adds HID headlights, LED daytime running lamps, 10-spoke 17″ alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, 3-zone climate control, heated seats, driver memory settings, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, chrome trim, Audi music interface, and a few other features. Unfortunately, the Audi music interface standard on this trim takes away the auxiliary jack, and leaves only the iPod connector. While the iPod integration into the system is cool (kind of like Ford SYNC, just no voice activation,) this still leaves us non-iPod users without a way to listen to our music. These standard auxiliary jacks are easy to integrate, and should be included on every stereo on a new car today.
The top-of-the-line “Prestige” trim adds 18″ alloys, Audi rear parking system, Advanced Keyless start/stop, the side assist lane change system, and the unbelievably great sounding Bang & Olufsen 14-speaker sound system.
Stand-alone options include adaptive cruise control, navigation, and various sport packages (which include different wheels, paddle shifters for Tiptronic transmissions, sport tires, sport suspension and sport seats.)
Also available is the Audi Drive Select system, which allows the driver to choose between comfort, dynamic, and auto settings. This system doesn’t just adjust suspension settings, it provides a luxury cruiser for the daily commute, and a true sports sedan for winding roads by adjusting multiple settings including throttle response, steering, shift points, and more. Don’t like the presets? You can change settings individually through the Audi MMI system. Unfortunately, the Drive Select system is only available on the “Prestige” trim level. So if you want Drive Select, you have to have the premium sound system, Advanced Key, bigger wheels, and lane change system. I wish they would have made it available on the “Premium Plus” trim as well.
Audi really went all out on the new A4 to make sure it was thought about every time the words “BMW 3-series” were uttered. The design is excellent with the new LED daytime running lights, increased size, and modern interior. They’ve lowered the wind resistance, made the parts lighter and stronger, made it more comfortable, and gave it more interior room. They’ve even made the air conditioner 20% lighter and consume 10% less fuel. With a few option and trim changes, the 2009 Audi A4 really could be the perfect sports sedan.
Expect to see the A4 sedan and Avant in showrooms next month. The sedan will start at $32,700, and the Avant at $34,500.
Update: We finally got a chance to do a 2009 Audi A4 review – We loved it!