By on September 9, 2016

2017 Audi A4 Technik QuattroIt’s the new version of an always desirable German luxury sports sedan.

Shocker: it’s good.

Though the 2017 Audi A4 looks like a carbon copy of the 2016 model, it’s a new car with a new platform, new dimensions, new interior, and a revamped powertrain.

The A4’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is more powerful than before. Horsepower is up from 220 to 252. Torque jumps by 15 pounds-feet to 273, and it all comes on strong at 1,600 rpm. The new car is about an inch longer than before and nearly an inch wider. U.S. pricing for Quattro models begins at $40,350. Equipped similarly to our Audi Canada-supplied model ($60,285 in heavily optioned Technik trim north of the border), the 2017 Audi A4 Quattro Prestige would be $54,025, a 33-percent leap beyond the basic A4 Quattro’s price.

Yup, it’s good. At $54,025 it oughta be. Audi will tell you it how good it is. So too will your Audi dealer’s sales consultant. In fact, potential Audi A4 buyer that you are, you are able to tell yourself how good the 2017 A4 is.

I can join in the fun. But as TTAC’s own Bark. M explained yesterday, that’s easy.

A car review needs to tell you more than what you already know, it needs to do more than tell you what the automaker wants you to know.

Therefore, I’ve decided to tell you everything that’s wrong with the 2017 Audi A4.

But there’s a problem with that strategy, because there isn’t much wrong with the 2017 Audi A4, a car that I believe has shot to the top of its segment.2017 Audi A4 Quattro rearThe 2.0T is supremely quick for a base engine A4. Audi hasn’t made the A4 the dynamic class of the field, it’s simply not sufficiently communicative or athletic for such an honour. But the ride and handling balance is charming, a pleasant blend of comfort and sportiness that Audi has so often struggled to nail, having hampered comfort in the search for cornering prowess too many times. The cabin is a festival of high-grade materials and minimalist design and maximized build quality. On our test car’s sport suspension and 19-inch wheels, the A4 looks like it means business, too, albeit in the same fashion as the old A4.

Thus, I nitpick. I pick five nits. The 2017 Audi A4 is too good for me to find grievous blemishes.2017 Audi A4 Unimog RVSHIFTER
There didn’t seem to be anything wrong with the traditional shift mechanism employed for decades in the center tunnel of most new cars, yet numerous automakers have chosen to go another way. The 2017 Audi A4’s automatic shifter possesses no proper detents but rather engages drive, neutral, or reverse with a prod. Park is engaged by a thumbed button on the backside of the shifter.

Nothing about this is good, but we can’t really call the shifter a major chink in the A4’s armor. It’s not a manual transmission; these actions aren’t part of the driving experience. It’s annoying when you park, or are in the process of parking, and owners surely adapt.2017 Audi A4 Technik interiorVOLUME
MMI, Audi’s infotainment unit (which I chose over plugging in for Apple CarPlay), is a straightforward system. There are quick access buttons surrounding the controller — placed ahead of the shifter — and yet more shortcuts ahead of those. The processing power is impressive. The virtual cockpit in the gauge cluster both wows and works.

And then Audi took the volume knob, wisely placed on the horizontal center tunnel and not the vertical center stack, and located it almost aft of the shifter on the passenger side. It’s not that far from the MMI control knob, but it was an awkward arm bend in my chosen seating position. Oh, the horror.2017 Audi A4 interior detailREAR SEAT
There’s a silly lack of space in the back of the 2017 Audi A4. The center tunnel stands tall, almost as high as the seat itself, and severely limits five-passenger comfort as a result. But for a car that’s sized between the Honda Civic and Accord — the Audi is four inches longer than the Civic; seven inches shorter than an Accord — the A4 offers little rear legroom.

The Civic has a couple of extra inches of rear legroom and 3 percent more passenger volume overall.

Our car’s optional front seating was terrific: bolstered, but not too thickly. But this is not the rear seat of a family car. Then again, neither is the rear seat in virtually any direct A4 rival.2017 Audi A4 Technik interior detailDIESEL?
The 2017 Audi A4 is a quiet and refined machine, much more so than the old A4 that hung around for eight years. With so little road and wind noise, however, there’s an opening for other sounds to fill in the gaps.

Unfortunately, the sound that fills that gap is produced by a turbocharged, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, gas-fired engine that sounds an awful lot like a diesel at almost every point in the rev range.

The diesely clatter is muted, to be sure. And diesels sometimes sound cool, especially when there’s a diesel under the hood of a pickup truck towing an RV. But the ticking and clattering stands out in the Audi, not because it’s so loud, but rather because the A4 is otherwise a serene device.

DSG
Volkswagen Group brands have been installing dual-clutch automatic transmissions since before it was cool. You’ll find no complaining from me regarding the actual shifting of this direct-shift gearbox, but there is a measure of unmistakable lag off the line.

Here’s where you’ll notice it. Audi Drive Select is in Comfort and the transmission is in Drive, as opposed to Sport. You’re exiting a driveway onto a rural road; the driveway is on an incline and between corners. You know you can’t see what’s coming, and it could be coming quickly, so you anxiously leave the driveway. Or you try to. A quarter-inch of throttle gets you nothing as the DSG stops to ponder what it’s having for lunch.

Sport cures all this, by the way. As does learning the car’s tendency to pay no mind to initial inputs when you’re locked into the Audi’s most comfort-oriented modes.

Although those modes are also pretty stinkin’ good.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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97 Comments on “2017 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro Review – Nothing To Do But Pick Nits...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    “Audi hasn’t made the A4 the dynamic class of the field”

    What is the dynamic class of the field?

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      I think most car mags would cite the new Jaguar XE or the Cadillac ATS.

      Jaguar reliability concerns me, but at least you get a 5 year, 60K warranty.

      • 0 avatar
        Grahambo

        It’s a sad day when a car that it is not particularly “communicative or athletic” is stated to have “shot to the top” of what used to be known as the sport sedan segment. In that regard, how is the steering? My son’s new-to-him 100K mile ’07 TSX (great steering) was in the shop for a rear-seat leather re-dye and I got a newer RLX as a loaner. I recognize that the RLX is a bigger (and unloved) car in a less sporty class, but do all new Acuras have such horrible steering? Talk about devolution. I couldn’t wait to get out of that thing.

        I keep hearing that EPS systems are improving, but with a few exceptions (in my limited experience, Mustang, Mazda, WRX, IS350), there is a disastrous loss of steering feel/connection in purportedly sporty cars these days. As good as modern cars are in so many ways, this is nonetheless an era when even the 3-series’ sportiest setting has steering feel much too reminiscent of an 80’s GM. My hope is that the A4 – never head of the class, steering-wise – hasn’t fallen quite that far.

        • 0 avatar
          legacygt

          I understand but if it helps, the class has really grown. The A3 is the size of the A4 from not that long ago. Maybe we need to look there for “communicative or athletic.”

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I think the answer has to do with what BMW engineers have repeatedly told magazines: most of the customers don’t like steering feel, finding it unluxurious and sometimes a bit scary.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          you’ve got to understand, hydraulic and electric power steering both do the same thing. something helps reduce the steering effort the driver has to exert. with hydraulic, a spool valve in the rack admits hydraulic pressure to help push the rack in the direction the driver wants. in electric, a motor applies force to the rack in the direction the driver wants.

          IMO most of it is that the two systems feel a bit different, and car snobs just don’t like anything they’re not used to. If you’re complaining about the feel of “connection to the road” while you’re driving on public streets, you’re just looking for something to b***h about.

          • 0 avatar
            Grahambo

            Thanks for the technology lesson, but I am most assuredly NOT looking for something to complain about. I am not Speed Racer, but I do want some measure of feedback and a sense of control from the steering wheel even at relatively low speeds on public roads. I frankly do not feel as safe/confident piloting a vehicle where the primary controls do not react in an responsive, intuitive manner. If you can’t tell the difference in steering between an E90 (or E46 or E36 or E30 – all different but all good in their own way) vs. an F30 (or, for that matter, an RLX vs a first gen TSX), then good for you; your automotive options are wide open. This is not necessarily an EPAS v. Hydraulic issue. As noted, I have driven very responsive EPAS racks but they are depressingly few. Maybe it’s just me confabulating again and all cars feel essentially the same with no discernible differences when driven on public roads ….

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “Maybe it’s just me confabulating again and all cars feel essentially the same with no discernible differences when driven on public roads ….”

            that’s not what I was saying and you damn well know it.

          • 0 avatar
            hreardon

            JimZ –

            Yeah, I get the difference (similarities?), but fact remains: hydraulic steering feels better in my hands. I have a lot of road time in pre/post facelift A4s (when it went from hydraulic to electric steering), as well as in my current GTI, numerous 2-series and the 3 both pre/post hydraulic.

            Without a doubt, the feedback and feel from the hydraulic systems just feels better, more natural.

            It’s not that the electric systems are bad, it’s just that they’re not yet as good as hydraulic. In the words of Chris Harris in his GTI MK7 review: “they’re getting really good at this”, but it’s not quite there yet.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            Some people just don’t understand that you can feel the amount of grip available at the front wheels through a good steering system. They are essentially blind to that information, which is valuable not only during performance driving, but especially during slippery conditions. These people tend to believe that winter driving is scary, and that everyone should be required to use electronic nannies in that situation.

            I would be pleasantly surprised if this A4 has decent steering feel. The last one wasn’t great in that regard, and the automotive trend is for that aspect to only get worse.

          • 0 avatar
            SP

            JimZ, it’s a lot more than just “it’s different, wah wah!”

            I have driven manual (non-assisted), hydraulic assist, and electric assist. They can all feel “good”. I think that, so far, automakers have a hard time taking electric assist to the level of “great”. Non-assisted and hydraulic assist steering systems are well enough developed that “great” is possible. But even non-assisted steering isn’t necessarily great – that requires some proper design choices.

            The level of effort is part of the feel, sure. But light steering can have good feel, and heavy steering can have no feel. A MN12 Ford Thunderbird has pretty light steering, but you can feel the road through it very well (assuming it’s in good repair after all these years). A current F30 BMW set to “Sport Mode” has very heavy steering … and no road feel whatsoever.

            The main thing about BMW’s new steering that makes people mad is that other cars have electric assist that feels vastly better. In other words, BMW chose to make it numb. It was not a necessity. But BMW will still talk about “sports heritage” and “passion” if they think it will help them sell you a car.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    At first I thought that was the now-infamous ZF “monostable” gear selector, but I see that this car has a 7-sp DCT.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    $54k for a clattery engine, sluggish transmission, and an interior smaller than a Civic?

    For that price and experience, I could buy *two* Renegades and go off-roading.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      But you sounded so much like Audi’s ideal A4 buyer.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      AFAIK all DI engines have some degree of chatter, I think it’s usually down to the high-pressure fuel pump (HPFP.)

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        When the Lexus LS460 (which has Toyota’s dual port/direct injection system) came out, there was a subset of LS430 owners that was absolutely apoplectic that you could hear very faint DI ticking at idle. They said and still say that it ruined the LS experience.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        OK, I rescind my complaint about the clatter. I forgot this was a DI engine; that’s what they do at idle.

        • 0 avatar
          SP

          Haha, SCE to AUX sounds like an ideal consumer.

          Consumer: “This mattress is uncomfortable.”

          Salesman: “This mattress has new technology. They’re all uncomfortable now.”

          Consumer: “Oh, ok. I’ll take it.”

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        Indeed. I drove an A3 2.0T for over ten years (are there awards for making it that long?) and people would often ask me if it was a diesel. The clatter got worse as time went on, but I never found it to be an irritant. My current GTI is significantly quieter and has less clatter, but it’s still there. The new 2.0TFSI in the A4 has made big strides in refinement and tuning out the noise, but again, still noticeable, especially if you’re accustomed to a NA 4, or especially a traditional 6.

  • avatar

    I would say the fully optioned price at $54K is a big negative, but maybe I’m just tone deaf to new car prices. They seem really high to me. But I haven’t bought a new car in almost 12 years, my fully optioned BMW 330ci cost me $41K.

    • 0 avatar
      a5ehren

      The base 430i (which isn’t the “good one” like your 330ci) *starts* at $43k MSRP, probably more like $40k if you negotiate.

      A 440i gets into the 50s pretty quickly once you add options.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      Inflation inflation inflation.

      $41k 12 years ago (2004) is equivalent to $52.2k today… and I bet this car has a lot of options/tech not found on your fully optioned BMW.

      • 0 avatar
        Timothy Cain

        Cooled and heated front seats, heated rears, blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assist, dynamic headlights with auto high beam, rear sunshades, HUD are a handful of (likely) differences.

    • 0 avatar
      whitworth

      $54k is pretty out of control for what I consider to still be an entry level luxury car. At that point, you’re better off getting an A6.

      I always considered the A4 to be Audi’s version of a 3 series or a Mercedes C class or Lexus IS. I guess the A3 has now filled that role.

      • 0 avatar
        Timothy Cain

        It’s very easy to tick a few boxes and drive a 330i xDrive to $58,595 on BMWUSA.com.

        Options on German luxury cars? Expensive.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        “At that point, you’re better off getting an A6.”

        A $54k A6 is pretty much a stripper.

        • 0 avatar
          Mandalorian

          A Q5 maybe, otherwise a fully loaded Explorer or Grand Cherokee. More people cross shop these than you’d think.

        • 0 avatar
          Blackcloud_9

          Agreed.
          My brother has a well-optioned – but not the top-of-the-line – A6 and his final price was 71k. It is an extremely nice car and I’m happy he has it. Because I’ll probably never be able to afford one.

          • 0 avatar
            whitworth

            I’m finding an A6 has an MSRP of $47k. I’d rather have a base A6 for $47k than a “loaded” A4 for $54k.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Having had an absolutely base, no options A6 for four days in Dallas recently (courtesy of Sixt), unless you need to haul around NBA players, no, you don’t. No keyless entry, no Nav, no rear seat airbags(!), none of the other toys that make a loaded premium car nice. And no AWD, which made for an odd driving experience of an Audi with significant torque steer – that 2.0T has some serious low rev grunt.

            Mind you, I liked the car OK, but I would have liked a decently spec’d A4 more (and a 3-series or C-class rather more again). The ONLY advantage to the A6 is a little more room in the back, and a slightly bigger trunk. I’m a 6’2″, 300 and too darned much guy, and I fit just fine in an A4/3-series/C-class, front or back.

            But, I suppose most people just have to buy their cars by the pound.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Switch blanks don’t bother me, but I that is one thing BMW is MUCH better about than Audi. Generally, if you don’t have the option the piece is different with no place for the switch. My 328i has none, my M235i has one. Both cars are quite lightly optioned.

            I have never seen a European car with remote start, though I imagine someone will come up with a random example. I can’t imagine wanting it, there is pretty much nothing worse that you can do to an engine than start it and let it idle. I’m not so fragile that I can’t handle a couple minutes of too hot or too cold.

          • 0 avatar
            whitworth

            I’d still rather have a nicer, underlying car with fewer bells and whistles than an overloaded, entry level offering. The quattro for the A6 only adds around $2,000. So you can still get an A6 Quattro for under what a loaded A4 costs.

            And sorry, I just can’t imagine driving a new “base” A6 being that awful of an experience. It’s still very well equipped, more than what many flagships offered only a few years ago.

            And just to check, I went on their site and the middle of the road A6 with the “premium plus” package MSRP’s at $51k and $58k for the 3.0 engine.

            Just way too close in price, a no brainer to buy the bigger A6, even if you have to stretch the budget a bit.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            That’s the thing – the A6 isn’t nicer than the A4 in any way. It’s just bigger. It’s all the same parts spread a little bit further apart. And most of the bigger is in the back seat, where I don’t care about it. I don’t sit in the back seat of my cars, anyone who doesn’t like the accommodations is free to make alternate transportation arrangements.

            No, it’s not terrible. But the entry level A6 is missing an awful lot of toys. Which is fine if you just want a big, nicely made car. But while I have zero use for AWD in a car, I also don’t particularly enjoy the car squirming all over the place when I put my foot down either, which the FWD A6 most assuredly does.

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        I think that definitions have changed. Whereas in the past the A4 was considered “entry level”, that title is now firmly held by the A3 which is really (in far more ways than one), a VW GTI in sedan form with a substantially more refined cabin. Credit where it is due: go drive all three cars back to back – GTI, A3 and new A4. What amazes me is that all three are, in their own right, excellent cars. While the GTI and A3 share just about everything except body style and cabin design they feel very distinct.

        The new A4 feels very much like a downsized A6, no longer a *de-contented* A6. The VW group move to modules is allowing them to shift technology and features between models to the point where the differentiators are size and powertrain, not necessarily options and ‘luxury refinement’ in the traditional sense.

        While I could pick up a 2.0TFSI A6 for those prices, I’d want a more fully loaded 3.0T model, which pushes the price point up more. Plus, outside of the S6, the A6 just doesn’t feel as nimble as an A4 (not that either is particular jovial on the road).

    • 0 avatar
      Tim R

      A Premium Plus Quattro model is a better way to go price-wise. If you forgo the Tech Package with the Virtual Cockpit and nav, you can get full LED lighting, 18″ alloys, sports seats and suspension, front and rear heated seats, heated steering wheel, Apple CarPlay/Android auto, and forward collision warning with automatic braking all for the low-to-mid $40Ks. Considering Audi’s improved reliability, that’s a pretty good value for this segment.

      • 0 avatar
        Cactuar

        All this talk of price when all that really matters is the monthly payment amount.

        • 0 avatar
          dbuxton13

          Oh sure, if you want to be a car salesman’s perfect customer (target), by all means focus on monthly payment. The *last* thing you ever want to discuss is monthly payments. Keep the focus on purchase price, and even then go for invoice price since the dealers don’t even pay that anymore. It’s all a ridiculous shell game.

          You should already know your monthly cap based on final price and loan options before going in, so keep the negotiations on that or prepare to get taken to the cleaners.

          • 0 avatar
            duffman13

            Monthly payment on these matters because for the large part they’re leases.

            If you’re actually buying one, definitely focus on that total purchase price though.

          • 0 avatar
            Cactuar

            What I meant is that entry-level luxury vehicles are status items. The price of entry is very important and for many shoppers the lease amount is the only number they see. The MSRP or OOT price doesn’t matter to them, as long as they can squeeze themselves into a “luxury” lease, they’re happy.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      That’s inflation for you. My 1996 A4 Quattro, fully optioned save for the manual, had a window sticker of $28k. I got it used years later, but it was still in the glove compartment.

      $54k with all of the options is par for the course in this segment now. A fully optioned minivan is $50k now for reference.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    “There’s a silly lack of space in the back of the 2017 Audi A4…
    The Civic has a couple of extra inches of rear legroom and 3 percent more passenger volume overall.”

    For me this is such a deal breaker and I would be in the market for an A4 otherwise.

    The idea of a $54k luxury sedan having less backseat room than a Honda Civic is absurd.
    I’m guessing this is so it won’t cannibalize sales of the A6?

    Considering something like 99% of cars these days are 4 door, why is decent back seat room such a hard concept to understand for the automakers? They clearly know that people want the utility of 4 door because the back seat is being used. I can understand a coupe having a tiny back seat, but that’s a product offering long gone for the most part.

    Take space out of the trunk if you have to, you can always have a fold down rear seat if you’re a big trunk user, but if you have kids and car seats, you need decent room back there. Never mind an actual adult being able to fit.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      The Civic is huge now. Having less legroom than it doesn’t make a car cramped.

      I haven’t seen this A4 in the metal, but it is nearly identical to the BMW 3 Series in measured legroom and THAT car has plenty of space as well. They’re both a bit roomier than the Sportwagen I’ve been carting my 4-year olds around in since they were infants.

      This class of car used to be small. It’s primary draw isn’t rear passenger comfort and never has been. That you can now seat a six foot passenger behind a 6 foot driver without knees hitting seatbacks is just icing. Actually, some would probably consider the expanding size in this segment a real demerit.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        The Civic is quiet now, nicely appointed in Touring trim, performs nearly as well as the Audi, AND it has more room, AND it has better reliability and ridiculous gas mileage, AND it sells for about half the money.

        You thinking what I’m thinking? Why not just buy a Civic?

        • 0 avatar
          NickS

          Yes, buy a civic if you want all the things you mention.

          If you’ve never driven one of these cars it will be hard to understand why people buy them and pay all this money. It is a completely different product.

          But I agree about the rear legroom.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Well, sheetmetal for one. The Civic is hideous.

          It’s an excellent car for the price, but I doubt it does a reasonable impression of a luxury car in much of any way. The 1.5T certainly won’t keep up with this A4.

          • 0 avatar
            tonycd

            “I doubt (the Civic Touring) does a reasonable impression of a luxury car in much of any way.” Maybe in this way:

            Forbes:
            “It (is) far quieter than any current competitors.… It really does feel more like a luxury car than a high-volume, mainstream sedan.”

            Autoweek:
            “The top-tier Touring model does live up to the hype: It feels as nice as any Acura sedan.”

            The Car Connection:
            “In Touring trim, (it) could easily wear a premium badge.… The turbocharged versions get better tires and additional hydraulic suspension bushings that deliver a wonderfully compliant, composed ride quality and excellent tracking. It no longer feel at all like an economy car, at this pay grade.”

            Wheels.ca:
            “2016 Civic takes Canada’s award Triple Crown: North American Car of the Year, Best of the Best by the Canadian Automotive Jury, and Car of the Year by the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada… The Civic Touring model is an entry-level luxury sedan in every respect except its modest under-$30,000 (Canadian) price.”

            I’m aware of Bark’s comments about car-reviewer fellatrices, but it wasn’t at all hard to find these comments, and you can’t say that about the vast majority of its size/price competitors.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            “I’m aware of Bark’s comments about car-reviewer fellatrices”

            You could have stopped right there and saved the cutting and pasting of a lot of hyperbole. My MkV Jetta feels more like a luxury car than a mainstream compact, but I’m not silly enough to think it actually feels like a luxury car. The comparison with Acura might be correct but that says more about the condition of Acura than anything else.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          Audi is now ahead of Honda in reliability.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Cite sources.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            …Cite sources….

            For what it is worth, a quick look at CR’s stats puts the new Civic at an average reliability rating; The Audi A4 is shown as better than average. Pretty much most all Hondas now rank no better than average…oh how the mighty have fallen. But look back a few years and the Audis look horrible….I’d still bank on Honda if reliability is the primary benchmark.

          • 0 avatar
            tonycd

            Correction, Husky: Per CR, 2016 Audis are now ahead of 2016 Hondas in INITIAL reliability. (The most recent A4 and Civic both have perfect scores.)

            Five years down the road, my money is on the Hondas. And CR’s statistics on 2011 models of the respective makers fully support that conclusion — check out the big black 8-ball at the bottom line for the 2011 A4 and A5, f’rinstance.

      • 0 avatar
        whitworth

        Regarding leg room, I’m also going off of the review saying “there’s a silly lack of space in the back” so clearly it’s a real issue, and not just because of the Civic doing better in that department.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Tim’s statement is incredibly vague. First, determine how much room you need. Then look at it in person to see if it meets it.

          How many A4s cart a fifth passenger around?

          • 0 avatar
            Timothy Cain

            “The Civic has a couple of extra inches of rear legroom and 3 percent more passenger volume overall.”

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Is it exactly 3%, or maybe 2.94%?

            How you get away with being this vague…

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Yeah, that’s still not helpful because it lacks any sensible context. Why is the Civic the gold standard here? It has a different purpose and market position. Remember Bark’s advice from yesterday–compare a car to its competitors.

            How is a quoted 3% reduction in volume useful? That may be two-decimal-places-precise but it still doesn’t tell me if Tim had enough room sitting back there. If your head isn’t contacting the ceiling and knees aren’t hitting the seatback, should I care that it has 3% less space than a Civic? What I care about is if it is more cramped than a 3-series or C-class.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        Even the last generation civic sedan has a pretty big back seat all things considered. I never minded riding in the back of it personally at 5’9″, 190. The seat cushion was a little bit low though.

        I wouldn’t call smaller than a civic too small at the civic’s current dimensions. Hell, even the Jetta has a large enough back seat for most adults now. I test fit a rear-facing child seat in it for reference.

    • 0 avatar
      dbuxton13

      I sat in the A4 and S4 at its premiere in Frankfurt Germany. I am 6’1″ and there was plenty of room for me as I went directly from the drivers seat to the seat behind without changing anything. Comparing it to the Civic was a poor comparison because we think of them as very small, and they are, but the newer model prioritizes rear leg room at the expense of trunk space and measurements elsewhere. This new A4 is truly a fantastic car. Hope to spring for an S4 when available.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      The main target market for $55K entry-lux sedans does not have kids in carseats. Those people buy Q5s. But even that said, I have carted plenty of clients around in the back of the previous generation A4s courtesy of SilverCar, the rear seat room is way more than adequate for the intended purpose. If you need to carry six-footers all-day-every-day, buy a van.

      A FWD Civic doesn’t have to make room for a driveshaft and a sophisticated rear-drive suspension. Those two things eat up a lot of space. The transverse engine frees up a LOT of space at the expense of weight distribution and proportions.

    • 0 avatar
      WesNeedsCoffee

      I haven’t ridden in the front or the back of a new Civic.

      The back seat of my 2017 A4 is not huge and I knew that when I bought it.

      My previous car was a 2013 Legacy, which has a very generous rear seat. I sat it in twice 3 years. Since I don’t have kids and don’t haul people for long drives I didn’t care that much. The other cars I was considering either didn’t have back seats or had laughably tiny back seats (looking at you Mustang and 2-series).

      One of my coworkers is 6’5″ and has sat in the back several times (behind my legs extended, seat bottomed out, 5’10” ass in the driver seat) on lunch outings without complaint. I don’t think I’d want to subject him to a multi-hour drive (that’s what the Flex is for anyway) but for bombing around town it’s totally fine.

  • avatar
    Wunsch

    Speaking as the former owner of an Audi with the volume knob located there, it actually makes a fair bit of sense. The driver isn’t going to use the volume knob; the driver has steering wheel controls for that (which work very conveniently). The volume knob is for the passenger, so why not locate it right next to said passenger?

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      The shifter is designed so you can rest your wrist on it and operate MMI. I want to rest my wrist and operate volume, as well. Plenty of cars are placing the volume knob along the centre console, but the placement of this one is the worst. This is a terrible thing, a very big deal, awfully bad news, an unrighteous act.

      Or nitpicking.

  • avatar
    legacygt

    Can someone stop the shifter madness? These new designs are awful. They offer no advantage to the driver. NONE. From the manufacturers standpoint they may be cheaper (fewer moving parts) and could be selling point (they seem really cool when the car is standing still in the showroom). But in terms of driving, parking, 3 point turns, safety, feedback, comfort and familiarity, they are awful.

    • 0 avatar
      WesNeedsCoffee

      I own one of these cars. The gear selector is totally fine. My previous car was a Legacy with the CVT and a “conventional” gear selector. All of my cars before that were 4, 5, and 6 speed manuals.

      It was novel the first week of driving but quickly becomes second nature. You push the P to set the parking prawl (which is automatically set along with the parking brake when you turn off the car and open the door if you forgot — something the Jeeps didn’t do). You pull down to switch to Drive. You push up to switch to Neutral and again to Reverse. Or you push through a detent to move directly to/from D / R.

      Would I rather have a manual transmission? Yes.

      Would I rather have a “conventional” automatic selector? Meh. Plenty of those are almost as weird — do you have to hold a button to change selections? Do you have funky gates to negotiate (or not)? How do you engage the tiptronic mode (and how do you disengage it). Nevermind where the selector is located (column, dash, console).

      The real nit pick should have been the lack of storage space inside the car. It’s minuscule.

    • 0 avatar
      Dingleberrypiez_Returns

      I too prefer familiar designs, but there are some benefits to electronic shifter designs. When well executed, they can take up less space. I really like the rotary shifter in my office’s Ram 1500 (although others don’t). I agree that the electronic shifters are often poorly executed, but there is promise here. Jack Baruth had a good editorial on this topic.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Not only do they offer no advantage, but they’re generally less efficient. Whereas you could previously shift by feel, you must now shift by feel and by sight. As opposed to using your eyes to be aware of your surroundings.

      I could see arguments for saving space, but most of these designs aren’t doing that. If they were, they’d all be using buttons, like Lincoln.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Oh, Great!
    Another “great” car that won’t give you rear seat legroom.
    So…then Forgettaboutit!

    Why not just get a Mustang!? And save thousands.

    Who cares about any car that talks about being a sedan with a rear seat if it sucks.
    You would think this is a major engineering objective, wouldn’t you?

    Anybody can build a superior car IF you don’t really concern yourself with vision or rear seat.
    Just see the Camaro for a similar skimping on details.

    • 0 avatar
      dbuxton13

      The rear seat is average. By which i mean plenty of room for all 6’1″ of me. More than the mustang or Camero easily. This reviewer probably didn’t intend for it to come off the way it sounds, or he didn’t actually sit in it, or he’s a basketball player that gets picked to play center.

      • 0 avatar
        TrailerTrash

        I understood what Cain was saying.
        And I appreciate the BMW and the Audi for having improved their rear seat room in the latest designs.
        However, they still are small…ish.

        I am surprised to hear someone of your size fits as well as you say, since I didn’t experience this when I last sat in and tested the BMW or the 4…as this review compares.

        I was joking about the Mustang, as those rear seats are simply stupid. Briefcase useful only. But the Mustang is extremely more affordable. And probably more heart warming.

        But seriously…53K for a small car!? And one that looks eerily like the VW Passat???? Aren’t you in the Q5 area now?

  • avatar
    RedRocket

    It’s a newly introduced Audi (or Mazda, or Honda, or other auto journo darling) so it is automatically the bestest thing ever. Doesn’t mean it is a good car to own, or sensible purchase.

  • avatar
    3CatGo

    Agree on the shifter nonsense. Isn’t this the strategy that got the Star Trek guy allegedly run over by his own Cherokee? With an automatic, you should be able to rely on feel and the thunk of the shifter to determine placement, this thing requires you to avert your eyes to verify it. Change for the sake of change, IMO, and with a worse result. Otherwise, A4’s are beautiful in the flesh, maybe now I can find a 2016 on the cheap to replace our polluting TDI.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    If you want to follow Barks new guidelines, you could throw a reference to CR or TrueDelta reliability reports in comparison to other entries in the field. Maybe compare it to a BMW, Infiniti, Lexus, and Mercedes instead of a Civic (although comparing it unfavorably to a lower level entry might be OK, have to ask MB directly.)

  • avatar
    DearS

    The reliability (and company behind it) is killing this car for me. I see this car being a $44k car with options, $36k without.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      An that’s why Audi built the A3 for badge chasers, who also won’t be able to use the back seat, but are willing to spend $10K per ring.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      I suspect that Jeeps are out because they hid exploding gas tanks in the Grand Cherokees, or GM cars because they knew about the ignition locks yet continued to ship, or Honda because they were aware of irregularities with the Takata airbags and yet did nothing until forced to? Hyundai for lying about gas mileage, Mitsubishi for the same, Subaru for shipping engines with leaky valve covers for a solid ten years, plus? Ford for everything from faulty door latches to failing tires? The Pinto, the early 80s Ford transmission failures, or how about Toyota’s flawed accelerator pedals that they blamed on both driver error and then on the floor carpets, only to find out that Toyota destroyed documents showing they knew it was a design flaw but decided to live with it. Tesla exploding batteries or autopilot issues?

      I’m not defending VW group one bit, but let’s not pretend that the rest of the industry is clean by *any* stretch of the imagination.

      As for the reliability, the Germans aren’t Honda or Toyota like in their simplicity so they’ll never be the same in overall reliability. That said, they’ve made huge strides since the move to the MLB architecture in 2008.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    $54K for multiple blank buttons stretched across the middle of the dash. So premium. But your date might wonder why you skimped, and didn’t get the expensive A4.

    I can’t take my eyes off that turn signal stalk. Even though it looks like the one in my new Ford, I’m sure sure that pressing it with the tip of my ring finger would bring a far more premium experience for a mere $20K more.

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    This is a lovely car, both inside and out. Anyone who has experienced a modern premium car (let’s specifically say Audis here) and “gets it” and can comfortably justify the expense will NOT, in any way, be interested in comparing Hondas.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I can’t get over those button blanks on a $54K car. A premium car should make you feel good about yourself. Not like you should have coughed up an extra $6K so you wouldn’t have to be constantly be reminded of your frugality.

      • 0 avatar
        WesNeedsCoffee

        My understanding is that the button blanks are for features that are not available in North America (for any price) and not because I was cheap when I bought the 2017 A4 in Quattro / Premium Plus trim. They’re pretty inconspicuous and even though I paid almost 48,000 of my hard earned dollars, I don’t feel in the least way ripped off or that I was cheap.

        It’s odd that a car in this price range does NOT have remote start — apparently this is something that is taboo and/or against the law in the EU so Audi doesn’t offer it. Our Flex has it but I can’t say I actually miss it (though I got the car in April and it lives in the garage overnight so I haven’t had the opportunity to hop it when it’s ice cold).

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Not surprising; remote start on a non-PHEV or BEV is basically an environmental apocalypse. Cars are running in open-loop mode for 10 minutes at a time, not really warming up (and not warming up their cats), running rich, just spewing unburned hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide all over the place.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            Well we are talking about Audi the business unit of VW that came up with the fabled defeat device, so I doubt that they are not offering remote start because they are concerned about the environmental effects.

            As far as remote start being an environmental apocalypse, that is really exaggerating the effects on most modern gas powered cars. The advent of heated and then wideband sensors have allowed the engineers to get the car into closed loop operation in as little as 1 minute of idling. Close coupled cats or cats integrated into the exhaust manifold also means that the cat gets up to temp much quicker than in the old days.

            Here is a video of a car going into closed loop in 55 seconds and it appears to be a older Saturn with a basic heated )2. Yes it is not a start from a temp that you would be using a remote start so it could take a little longer when the temps are significantly lower. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ9G_h5o2Yc

            Yes driving will heat up the Cat quicker but at what cost. You are pumping a greater volume of uncontrolled exhaust by driving a car than it does when it idles.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Maybe it’s a little better with cats near or in the manifold, but in my experience even new cars will have trouble getting to anything close to operating temp at idle in very cold weather. Starting to drive and putting even a minor load on the engine gets temps up much quicker.

            If the ECUs are capable of going into closed-loop at lower temperatures, that’s a genuinely good thing — but I still wonder how long it takes at idle on a 0 degree F day.

            I’m especially sensitive to this because my wife has a condition that makes her feel symptoms at concentrations of CO that wouldn’t pose any problem for most of us. (It started with a nasty CO poisoning episode a bit over a year ago.) It’s genuinely bad for her to be exposed to stop-and-go traffic on cold mornings, and using remote start would be a disaster. One reason we’re moving into a city neighborhood, but one far from any freeway, where she’ll pretty much never have to drive in those conditions.

        • 0 avatar
          hreardon

          Agree on the environmental aspect of it, but wifey loves the remote start on her Grand Cherokee on those frosty Great Lakes winter mornings.

          Worth its weight in gold.

  • avatar

    good review again

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    For me the DSG hesitation is unacceptable.
    I know first hand from driving one.
    This type of review is useful to me, thanks.

  • avatar
    vvk

    Strange, every other review says the rear seat is huge.

    Those wheels look idiotic. First thing I would do is to upgrade to 17 inch wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      ZCD2.7T

      You’d “upgrade” from the tested car’s 19″ wheels to 17″ wheels??

      Ohhhhkay…

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        Better ride, better grip, as long as it fits over the calipers, more sidewall FTW. Just because you prefer a car to look stupid with oversize rims doesn’t mean we all suffer from that affliction.

        • 0 avatar
          vvk

          I upgrade all my cars to smaller wheels. The idiotic 19″ steamrollers BMW installed on my 550i are sitting in my garage while I enjoy better ride, MUCH better handling and better gas mileage with my new 17 wheels. The handling with the 19″ wheels was just scary.

          • 0 avatar
            dbuxton13

            18″ are standard, you pay extra for 19s, and you *really* pay if you have to special order 17s. Skid pad tests have shown marginal difference between 17 and 18, with slightly less body roll on 18s.

          • 0 avatar
            ZCD2.7T

            Better ride? Sure, if you don’t like to feel the road.

            Better handling? Sure, if you like sidewall flex.

            Better gas mileage? I suppose if you went with a narrower tire, sure.

            Idiotic? Mmmmmkay…

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            It comes down to roads you drive on. The 19″ wheels would certainly be the better handling and riding wheels on a smooth track. I can see how those would be preferred in somewhere like California or Arizona. But here in freeze-thaw land, a rally car doing a stage on our public roads would be hopeless trying to get those things to maintain full contact with the road.

          • 0 avatar
            ZCD2.7T

            I live in the Chicago area and my last 2 DDs have had 35-series tires, one on 19s and the other on 20s. Both cars ride (rode) well.

        • 0 avatar
          ZCD2.7T

          “…stupid…”?

          Beauty’s in the eye, after all…

          Also, opinionated much?

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