2009 Audi A4 Review – Nothing else like an Audi new car smell

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2009 Audi A4
By Twain Mein


  • (Useful) bells and whistles
  • quattro® all-wheel drive
  • Handling and comfort
  • Beautiful interior
  • Cruise control that works going down hill
  • Good gas mileage; 22.6 mpg combined


  • Disappointing styling
  • Rear seat room
  • No telescoping steering wheel!
  • Price

This is a review of the redesigned 2009 Audi A4 quattro with 265 hp 3.2 liter V6 engine. The base price is $40k but it came with $10k worth of options, including

  • WPT package: Xenon headlamps, LED running lights, 18” wheels (with 245/45 series all-season Pirelli P-6 tires), hands-free blue tooth, heated seats, iPod/MP3 compatibility, rain-sensing wipers, Bang & Olufsun sound system, keyless entry
  • PDR package: Audi drive select for dynamic steering and adaptive suspension damping
  • PNK package: Navigation, voice control, and rear backup camera
  • 8T4: Adaptive cruise control with active braking guard

The main option it lacked was the S-line sport package with sport suspension, 19 inch wheels, shift paddles and alacantra seat inserts.

2009 Audi A4

Disclosure: I am an Audi fanatic. In high school, my friend’s mom had an ’82 5000. It had an incredible blend of handling and luxury which opened my eyes to the world of Audi. When the original quattro debuted in ‘83, I was hooked by the performance, looks, and genius of all-wheel drive. Unfortunately for Audi, the “unintended acceleration” flap and notorious reliability problems conspired to ruin Audi’s reputation. On the flip side, this led to absolutely phenomenal bargains in the used car marketplace for these fine German autos which depreciated like a black hole. Capitalizing on this greatness for cheap, I’ve owned four Audis including an ‘86 Coupe, ’89 200 turbo quattro wagon, ’98 A4 Avant quattro, and 2000 A6 4.2 quattro. I still have the A6 (still fantastic at 130k miles) and hold it as the benchmark of luxury, practicality, performance, and styling. And through the years, Audi reliability has improved in step with their levels of performance and refinement. Needless to say, I was excited to drive the newest iteration of the A4 that promised to have more interior space, more power, and better handling.

Driving Impressions
There is the “new car smell”. And then there is the “Audi new car smell”. There is something extra special about the organic goodness that seems to come from Audis. It “smells” richer and…better. That’s the first impression. The second is the fantastic ergonomics—though slightly overwhelming with the MMI (Multi-Media Interface)  BMW-esque controls. I was initially a bit turned off by the configurable settings for Comfort/Auto/Dynamic controls for steering and suspension settings and shift points. And, as is trendy these days, the push button starter and confusing emergency brake implementation add unnecessary nuisance to simply getting in, starting, and driving away. Was all this really necessary? However, these controls and the GPS/info screen are logical and well laid out in typical Audi style.

Once underway, the Audi delivers a supple ride, good power, and luxury. Of note, this A4 is larger than its predecessor; it has a longer wheelbase and is wider. In fact, the wheelbase is slightly longer than the previous generation A6. This likely contributed to the fantastic ride quality and handling.

In sum, the 2009 Audi A4 was the most comfortable and pleasurable driving car I’ve ever driven.

2009 Audi A4

Audi’s have a solid if not bullet proof feel and the new A4 is no exception.

Interior Comfort and Ergonomics
The interior was typically Audi: amazing. The truth is we spend most of the time behind the wheel in a chair, operating a few controls. The more comfortable and functional it can be, the better. The high door sills made the interior feel a bit covert but overall, very comfortable and functional. If I had to choose a car to drive across country, this A4 would be it.

Audi A4 front seats Audi A4 back seats

The front seats were exceptionally comfortable. However, it would be nice if they slid back a bit more; I am barely 6 feet and found the adjustment maxed to the rear. But there was plenty of head room and “splay out space” for the legs left and right. Unfortunately, the rear seat room, despite the stretched wheelbase, proved somewhat cramped. The 4-door BMW 335i felt more spacious in the rear, especially when loaded with a baby seat. This was a big surprise.

The sound system was simply amazing; 14 speakers and 505 watts was the finest factory system I’ve ever heard. 5.1 surround mode sounded significantly better than plain old stereo. Very impressive.

The optional backup camera, typically found in SUVs, was also a welcome addition. It’s a true luxury option but very functional, especially if you have kids.

2009 Audi A4 interior Audi A4 MMI features full iPod interface Audi A4 steering wheel

Two options brought a “WOW” experience to me; the rain-sensing wipers and adaptive Cruise Control. With regard to Rain-sensing wipers, I am a Rain-X guy. Meaning I like to layer up the windshield with Rain-X and let the water bead away. But the rain-sensing wipers were surprisingly cool—and the wipers did an excellent job at clearing any/everything off the windshield. I was impressed. More impressive still was the adaptive cruise control. I live in a neighborhood that has a very steep and long down hill with a speed trap at the bottom. The speed limit is 40mph—and it’s very easy to exceed that speed by coasting. The Audi was the first vehicle I’ve ever driven that applied the brakes while in cruise control. Very impressive—and it even worked at speeds as low as 25 mph. Cool.

There was one astounding omission: no telescoping steering wheel! Either I couldn’t find it out or the feature wasn’t there; I find this hard to believe in a $50k car.

(Continued on page 2)

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  • Derek says:

    We found the lever to adjust the steering wheel height and reach. As stated earlier, we just didn’t look hard enough.

  • Buck Darrell says:

    I have to tell you that the steering wheel does indeed have tilt AND telescoping. The lever for this is way down on the bottom left of the steering column, not designed for you to adjust while you’re driving of course, for safety reasons.

  • 17679 says:

    i disagree with all the cons listed herein.
    * Disappointing styling – redesigned audi a4 has one of the most elegant styling in the luxury sedan segment in the market.
    * Rear seat room – wrong! has more leg room than that of bmw 3-series and mb c series. let us also consider that this is a sedan with decent rear leg room not an SUV.
    * No telescoping steering wheel! – really?! or you haven’t just look close enough.
    * Price – you get what you pay for so stop complaining about the price. keep in mind this is a luxury sedan not a kia or ford focus.

  • LC says:

    The 2009 A4 does have a telescoping steering wheel. The lever is just really low on the steering column.

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