2017 Audi A4: First Drive Review

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceAll-New
Audi has come a long way in America in the last 10 years — it’s practically a different company with designs that are among the best in the industry, a much higher level of consumer consideration and a considerable increase in sales. A perfect representative of Audi’s recent success is the all-new A4. This sport sedan has improved dramatically over the last decade, and with fresh styling, impressive performance and some amazing high-tech features, this ninth-generation is without question the best A4 yet.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceNew Look
There’s no mistaking the A4 for anything other than an Audi, but the sport sedan still gets a fresh look for 2017. Everything about the styling looks crisper, with a more defined horizontal grille, sharply angled headlights and strong fender flares. The new clamshell hood design delivers a cleaner shoulder line connecting the corner of each headlight to the corresponding taillight.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceModel Lineup
The 2017 Audi A4 is available in three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige. Each of these have standard front-wheel drive, or an additional $2,100 will put power to all four corners via Audi’s legendary quattro all-wheel drive system.

© Audi AGStandard Safety Tech
All A4s come standard with Audi’s pre sense basic and pre sense city. Basic will prepare the car if a crash appears imminent by closing the windows and sunroof, cinching up the front seatbelts and preparing the brakes. City adds pedestrian and vehicle collision warning with braking initiation — this system operates from 6 to 52 mph.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceA4 Premium
With a starting price of $37,300, the Premium is the base-level trim of the A4. Even at the base level, the A4 comes well equipped with power front seats, leather trim, keyless engine start, a rearview camera, a power sunroof, 3-zone climate control and an integrated phone interface with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Xenon headlights with LED running lights and 17-inch wheels are also standard.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceA4 Premium Plus
The Premium Plus starts at $41,100 and upgrades the Premium with heated front seats, front and rear parking sensors, a 3D Bang & Olufsen audio system and 18-inch contrasting gray wheels. Also featured are LED headlights and sportier styling thanks to the S-line bumpers, side sills and fender badging.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceA4 Prestige
The top-level A4 Prestige runs $48,000, adding to the Premium Plus with a full-color head-up display, a top-view camera system and the Audi Virtual Cockpit featuring a high-resolution 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that can display full-screen navigation and other selectable information. The Prestige also has rear cross-traffic alert and vehicle exit assist, which provides an alert if opening the door will put the exiting passenger in harm’s way. The Prestige gets Audi’s updated MMI user interface as well as a trip computer, a navigation system and a 6-month trial to Audi Connect, featuring traffic alerts, unlimited Wi-Fi, map updates and a suite of telematics services.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceInner Space
The new A4 is slightly longer and wider than its predecessor, which translates to a more spacious interior. An updated dashboard design makes the front seats feel more spacious, so the entire car feels more open. One horizontal vent stretches from the right passenger door to the steering wheel, providing ambient air without the associated blowing from a fan motor.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePrimary Display
Replacing the integrated display screen from the previous A4 is a larger, high-resolution touchscreen. However, the display sticks out above the top of the dash and doesn’t integrate well with the new interior design. We’re not sure how it could have been incorporated any differently given its size, but the screen still looks out of place.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceVirtual Instruments
Audi’s Virtual Cockpit is easily one of the coolest things we’ve seen in a while. The high-res digital display can be left as a normal gauge display, with digitized gauges designed to exactly mimic the movement and look of an actual gauge. But the view can be changed to display a navigation map filling the screen, with smaller gauges overlaying the map. Google Earth images enhance the experience as well.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRear Space
The rear seat is slightly larger than the one in the outgoing A4, but adults will still find the space somewhat cramped if front seats are in a comfortable position. The large trunk can be expanded even further to provide additional space via split-folding rear seats.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceUnder the Hood
All 2017 A4s are powered by an updated 2.0-liter TFSI turbocharged 4-cylinder engine putting out 252 horsepower and an impressive 273 lb-ft of torque at a low 1900 rpm. This represents a hefty and quite noticeable increase in power over the outgoing model. At this time Audi has not released fuel economy numbers; however, the ratings should match or exceed the previous generation’s fuel efficiency.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceQuick Shifting
The only transmission available for the U.S. market is Audi’s latest 7-speed S tronic dual-clutch gearbox. Shifts can be actuated manually via paddles on the steering column, or the transmission can be left to shift on its own. The driver may also choose one of four modes: comfort, auto, dynamic or individual. These modes alter the shift points, steering, damper control and adaptive cruise-control adjustments.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceSporty Suspension
The A4 also benefits from a new front 5-link suspension designed to provide greater steering precision and excellent handling. An available sport suspension lowers the ride height by about an inch. A4 is also lighter thanks to its aluminum-hybrid construction.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceOn the Road
The A4 offers an excellent combination of comfort and sportiness. We spent an entire day in the new sedan, driving in everything from busy city traffic to winding mountain roads, and the A4 felt perfectly at home in either realm. But for obvious reasons there was more fun to be had in the mountains.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceGreat Handling
Steering on the new A4 is very precise and the suspension functions well, keeping the A4 flat in turns even at high speeds. The car feels light and agile, as if coaxing the driver to spirited driving while looking for more twisty roads. We only drove the quattro version and found it provides excellent grip. Although a manual transmission would have added to the driving fun, the S tronic gearbox works incredibly well with very fast shifts —faster than we could perform on our own with a manual shifter.

© Audi AGSmart Cruise Control
We’ve driven plenty of vehicles with adaptive cruise control systems, but the Audi setup goes a bit further than expected. As with other systems, once the speed is set the A4 will follow the car ahead at a set distance unless the car speeds up beyond the set speed, and it works well in stop-and-go traffic with Traffic Jam Assist. However, Audi’s system also reads speed limit signs and will automatically slow the car to the designated speed (which can be easily overridden for those with a need to speed). More interesting than that is the system’s ability to adjust speed based on the road. Using data from the GPS, the A4 will slow around corners, then speed up again when the road straightens out. The amount it slows depends on the drive mode selected — perhaps a hint that the ride may still be fun even with autonomous driving.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRight for You?
There aren’t a lot of vehicles that compete in the midsize sport sedan market, but the ones that do are really good. That said, this new A4 sets itself apart with fresh styling and a very satisfying ride with good power, a quick-shifting gearbox and excellent handling. If you’ve ever considered the A4 in the past but opted for the competition, it’s time to consider the A4 again.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperienceRating: 9
Bottom Line: Audi builds its best A4 yet.
Pros: Great new looks; excellent handling; Virtual Cockpit.
Cons: Cramped rear seat; nav screen not integrated; no manual transmission.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2017 Audi A4

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2017 Audi A4

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2017 Audi A4

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2017 Audi A4

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2017 Audi A4

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2017 Audi A4

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2017 Audi A4

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2017 Audi A4

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2017 Audi A4

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2017 Audi A4

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2017 Audi A4

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2017 Audi A4

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2017 Audi A4

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2017 Audi A4

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2017 Audi A4

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2017 Audi A4

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2017 Audi A4

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2017 Audi A4

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2017 Audi A4

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2017 Audi A4

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2017 Audi A4

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2017 Audi A4

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2017 Audi A4

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience2017 Audi A4

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