By on August 23, 2017

Audi A4

Young Mr. Baruth gave us his verdict of a base model Q3 yesterday, railing against its interior and infotainment system but admiring its grip and lateral stability. He made good points about Audi’s naming scheme, too: the Premium trim is an entry-level model, reminding me of VW recently putting the Limited badge on last year’s Tiguan. Remember when the Ford Explorer Limited was a prestige trim with a distinctive grille?

Given yesterday’s Q3 ministrations, let’s see what’s on offer from Audi in their least expensive A4.

“But, Matt!” you cry, hurling produce and expired Vachon cakes in my direction, “The A3, not the A4, is Audi’s smallest car!” It behooves one to remember that the A3 is not a big sedan. Measuring just 175.5 inches from nose to tail, Audi’s littlest is very nearly seven inches shorter than the current Honda Civic. Too small for this lad. The much larger and arguably much more satisfying A4 is less than a $4,000 walk from the diminutive A3 sedan, so we will focus on that model today.

Let’s get the powertrain details out of the way: A4s are fitted with Audi’s turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four but, to paraphrase, some turbocharged inline-fours are more equal than others. An extra $4,500 unlocks some extra engine fettling and the privilege of selecting a manual transmission. Power is boosted from 190 horsepower to 252 horses. Torque jumps from 236 ft-lb to 273. In a machine sized like the A4, that’s more than enough to make a difference. Quattro appears for your money, too.

On the $36,000 base Premium A4, a premium sound system is AWOL, as is any form of navigation save for the phone in your pocket. These features are available on the Premium Plus package, a trim level which constantly reminds me of a tasty soup cracker (in Canada, available trim levels are a much more Teutonic-sounding Komfort, Progressiv, & Technik). The Premium Plus trim adds $3,200 to the base Monroney. Notably, tri-zone climate control is standard on the base A4. Nice.

Xenon headlamps take up residence on either side of the four-ringed grille, and the heated side mirrors have integrated turn signals. Given Audi’s current predilection for deploying a “different lengths of sausage” styling language, it is entirely possible that some buyers – and the neighbors they’re trying to impress – would fail to see the difference between this and a swanky A6. For a few, having those four rings in the driveway is all that matters.

Inside the Audi A4, passengers will find heated leather seats with power adjustments for both the driver and passenger. A standard equipment sunroof allows for unhindered viewing of the next total solar eclipse. The standard fare of safety equipment such as stability control and brake assist work to keep this sedan out of the ditch.

If pressed to make a decision, I would take the walk to get the more powerful engine and Quattro. Are there other cars at this price point better equipped (or larger but equally equipped) than a base model A4? Certainly. Do they carry the cachet of those four rings on the grille? Probably not. Which priority wins? That’s up to you.

[Image: Audi]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selection.

The model above is shown in American dollars with American options and trim, absent of destination charges and available rebates. As always, your dealer may sell for less.

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28 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2018 Audi A4 Premium...”

  • avatar

    Mmmmmm…..Jos. Louis!

    Carry on….

  • avatar

    Ah Caramel is and always has been the best.

  • avatar

    Oddly enough they don’t mention the real trim levels on the Canadian website until you actually go in to the configuration. On the lead page they are called “sporty”, “technology” and “luxury”.

    $42,700 base model and they still charge you $890 for brown and anything else but black or white.

  • avatar

    Drove a 2017 A4 rental from Enterprise. It was premium enough but not impressed at the price equipped. The turbo VW/Audi engines have a unimpressive high pitched “woooosh” sound when you really hit the gas.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    Disagree. I’d definitely not want to miss out on the trick Virtual Cockpit in this thing. Plus anytime you can get vented seats and a heated steering wheel you should get them. And the sports pack is cheap.

  • avatar

    I think the A3 line is the better bet all around. $36,000 or so gets you Quattro with the Android Auto/Apple Car integration.

    And for A4 money, an Infiniti Q50 Sport with the twin turbo six begins to look awfully appealing as well.

    • 0 avatar

      $40k gets you the A4 with stick-shift and AWD. Further, if the A3 and A4 were like previous models, the A3 is the part-time VW “4 Motion” system but the A4 uses the full time quatro torsen system.

      • 0 avatar

        No longer, I fear: all the current A4 flavors in the US involve a new AWD system that replaces the Torsen differential with a Haldex-like system that has electronically controlled clutch packs which default to FWD.

        At least, until the programming decides slippage is imminent or actually occurring, at which point engagement of the rear wheels occurs.

        It’s a little hard to imagine the system is so bulletproof as the Torsen, which has been just an amazing piece of technology for the last couple of decades. However, the initial mass market reviews have been decent.

  • avatar

    A few years ago I looked at a base A4 AWD just to get a manual that the new A3 was lacking. It felt slower which I attributed to the increased weight compared to my 2007 A3 with the same engine. In the end I bought the even slower soon to be gone Acura long roof. Opting for the utility and a much lower price.

  • avatar

    I was amazed at how roomy the new A4 is inside, the rear leg room is comparable to my C7 S6. Also the base car at least has basic things like Bluetooth and LED tail lights standard (looking at you BMW!). It may not be the ultimate driving machine but it’s packaged really well offering better value compared to BMW/Merc.

  • avatar

    $36k for a 190hp car. Plus destination, which is about $800. Plus tax, title and license, which is another few grand.

    So $40k for a stripped A4.

    Yeah. How much is the new Accord Sport supposed to run – 26-28k?

    Forget badge snobbery. You’d have to have rocks in your head to get an A4 or any entry level ‘luxury’ car for 40k.

    3 series and A4s used to be dynamically better, but the rest of the market has gotten better while the 3 and A4 have gotten soft.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. And with barely any room for rear passengers this might as well be a two seat car.

      Worth mentioning the A4 had abysmal scores on the IIHS small frontal overlap crash tests UNTIL 2017! You’d think in a premium car they would have done the re-engineering a little sooner.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        “And with barely any room for rear passengers this might as well be a two seat car”

        When was the last time you were in one? The new-for-2017 model is substantially larger and has plenty of room in the back seat. It is far from “might as well be a two seater”.

      • 0 avatar

        Most of the population isn’t as big as you’re implying. I can confirm that four six-foot tall, 200 lb men will fit comfortably in this car for a highway trip. Replace the two in the back with a couple of typical fit women and it’s downright spacious for them.

        If you want to see seating that is truly so cramped that it shouldn’t even exist, have a peek behind the curtain at economy class on an airplane.

  • avatar

    A few weeks ago when my (apparently tiny) 15 A3 was in for service, I got a 17 A4 as a loaner. I loved the car, but I despised the new shifter that they use. Click it back to change gears, but push a button to park? It was weird. Still, it was fun to drive and I might have to look at them when I replace mine in a few years.

  • avatar

    Is half the story missing? How does it drive ?

  • avatar

    From my experience shopping for an Audi A4 earlier this year, the base car shares these features with the rest of the A4 line:

    – A noticeable increase in size compared to the previous generation of this model. In size, It’s pretty close to what the A6 used to be. Previous A4s were kind of cramped inside, this one isn’t.
    – Really solid perceived build quality, including Lexus like levels of quietness inside.
    – A really nice interior.
    – Handling that’s surprisingly good, especially considering the engine size out in front of the front axle.
    – The very good 3-zone climate control system.
    – An infotainment system that features both Apple Carply and Android auto. With these features you gain navigation through your phone integrated into the system, and so don’t necessarily need the car to have navigation.

    What you’re missing compared to higher trim levels:

    – Performance. The Ultra engine is designed to sip fuel and so really lacks grunt compares to the higher end loader of the same displacement.
    – Any hint of RWD performance dynamics. If you don’t get the Quattro system then you’ve got a front wheel dtive sedan, whereas most of its natural competitors are RWD.
    – The ability to get Audi’s technology package, which includes the virtual cockpit. You have to move up to the mid-grade trim for that to become an available option.

    I ended up purchasing the mid grade (“premium plus”) trim model with Quattro. At first I dismissed the virtual cockpit as a gimmick, assuming I’d prefer physical dials. After driving both, the virtual cockpit became a very desirable feature. It’s really well done.

    Regarding price, I found that all Audi dealers in my area save one immediately dropped to invoice (6% below MSRP) with no negotiation required. So figure your actual transaction price will be no more than 94% of MSRP, and spending some time negotiating will probably get lower than that. I’d say target price for the base car should be right around $33,000 USD, and that’s without getting into a death match.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      A4 also has some nice big meaty brakes. That’s especially appealing to me after years of crappy Honda/Acura potato chip brakes.

      • 0 avatar

        I didn’t mention the brakes as I wasn’t sure if the 190hp version had different brake hardware than the 252hp version. The brakes are indeed stout, showing no sign of fade after several maximum-braking stops from 70mph. I wish the steering had as much feel as the brakes, which provide lots of feedback.

    • 0 avatar

      Well done review of the A4.

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks, I was thinking of writing a reader review of the car but then Timothy Cain went and did a followup A4 review at the beginning of this month. Not sure the editors would be interested in another review on the same car so soon.

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