Audi A4/S4 maintain tradition of excellence
By AL VINIKOUR For Sun-Times Media November 28, 2012 11:20AM
2013 AUDI A4/S4
ENGINES: 211-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (A4), 333-horsepower 3.0-liter six-cylinder
TRANSMISSIONS: standard six-speed manual (A4, S4)
DRIVETRAIN: standard front-wheel drive (A4), standard all-wheel drive (S4)
FUEL ECONOMY: 22 city/32 highway (A4),
17 city/20 highway (S4)
BASE PRICE: $32,500 (A4), $47,600 (S4)
AS TESTED: not available
Updated: November 29, 2012 3:28PM
The Audi A4 family has been Audi’s best-selling product line for the past four decades. If history means anything, the new 2013 version — the eighth-generation A4 — will proudly carry on the family tradition.
Often referred to as the “entry-level Audi,” as if such a moniker would apply, the new A4 brings a lot to the table in the way of performance, luxury, comfort and just plain driving fun.
Audiphiles will instantly notice the exterior changes that include a powerful new grille with angled upper corners, dynamic new hood lines and reconfigured bumpers with angular air inlets. Further changes include redesigned, sleek headlamps and a new LED daytime running light design. No other car company does LED like Audi.
Even Mr. Magoo would recognize an Audi coming toward him. There are optional static halogen cornering lamps that enhance its segment-leading adaptive front lighting system to make it even more illuminating, rectangular fog lights and redesigned optional LED taillights. Other changes to the 2013 model are more subtle.
If you want to use your car to go to the grocery store on Sundays then the Audi A4 is not for you. However, if you want to go to the grocery store quickly on Sundays then you’ve come to the right place. The 2013 model is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo fuel-stratified injection four-cylinder engine that produces 211 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.
The A4 quattro (all-wheel drive) is available with a fuel-efficient eight-speed automatic Tiptronic transmission or a six-speed manual. Purists will love the smooth shifting of the manual. The front-wheel-drive A4 is available with a continuously variable transmission. It is speed regulated at 130 mph. The A4 comes with 17-inch tires and wheels; 18-inchers are optional.
The ride and handling is just what one would expect in a German road car. A new electromechanical steering column removes weight from the front of the car versus the previous hydraulic steering system. Dynamic steering is also available to adjust steering input based on the vehicle’s speed.
Available Audi drive select allows the driver to adjust dynamic steering, throttle response, transmission shift points and suspension settings. Four settings are available: auto, comfort, dynamic and individual (allows the driver to adjust each setting individually).
Driving flat out on mountain roads was a real hoot, especially when using the dynamic setting. There’s minimal body sway and maximum control.
Standard or available driving technologies include adaptive cruise control, Audi drive select controls, Audi parking system plus, Audi side assist, extended-range radio frequency remote locking system, driver information display, rain/light sensors for automatic windshield wipers and headlights, and windshield wipers with four-position adjustable rain sensor rate.
Before I get into the interior description of the A4/S4 let me introduce you to the performance sibling of the A4 — the Audi S4. To say the S4 is not for the faint of heart is an understatement. First of all, it’s powered by a 3.0-liter six-cylinder DOHC engine that generates 333 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. The S4 has standard quattro AWD. It’s either mated to a six-speed manual or a seven-speed S-tronic automatic. It comes standard with 18-inch wheels and optional 19s.
The S4 exterior dimensions are the same as the A4 but it has unique S4 badging. It, too, has an electronically limited speed of 130, although sometimes that’s not always set in stone.
The interior of both is pure Audi. There are several varieties of leather seating, standard or available. The fit and finish looks almost hand-crafted and there are power, technology and luxury appointments galore. There are enough audio and infotainment systems to rival the Las Vegas strip. Plus, there are three trim levels with the A4 (Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige) and two with the S4 (Premium Plus and Prestige).
Base prices for the A4 run from $32,500 to $34,600. Destination charges add $895. The S4’s two models start at $47,600 to $49,000 (plus the $895 destination charge). There are a ton of options and packages that can really jack up the price.
No matter the cost of a desired Audi A4/S4, I have never felt like the potential purchaser was being taken in by the tagline “fine German engineering.” Some legends are fables; others, like the 2013 Audi A4/S4, are real.
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