|2011 Audi A4
|2011 Audi A4 2.0T quattro Specs|
By Peter Newton
Driving Impressions: 2011 Audi A4 2.0 TFSI Quattro Tiptronic Sedan
- Swift and sure-footed
- Powerful yet sophisticated driving- and design!
- Above average technology integration
- Few and far between (and relatively minor)
- Functional, but basic Navigation system
- Narrow trunk limits what it can store
Competitors in the luxury sport car segment vie to provide what I consider the perfect car: a powerful and stylish coach loaded with creature comforts, yet compact and nimble to provide a thrilling ride. They are small enough to offer tight handling, yet roomy enough to fit four adults. The BMW 3-series has ruled this segment in the US market recently, fending off challenges from Lexus, Mercedes, Infinity, Cadillac, and Acura. Audi’s new A4 looks like a strong contender on paper, but can it deliver the goods?
I had the pleasure of testing out the 2011 Audi A4 quattro with the premium plus package, which provided most of the common luxury features for cars in this segment: heated seats, Bluetooth phone connection, iPod integration, Xenon headlights and the like. The Navigation package, Bang & Olufsen and 18 inch wheels brought the sticker price for this model up to a tidy $42,750, which is quite reasonable when compared to its competition. So the car has the goods in the luxury department, but the real test is how it performs on the road. I am glad to report that A4 aces the road exam, with a 211 horsepower turbo-charged engine that can push you back in your seat while the all-wheel drive system keeps the car glued to the road. The engineers at Audi have indeed built a well-rounded sedan that delivers power with control and elegance with ease of use. BMW has good reason to be concerned.
Audi has maintained a reputation for quality construction and this A4 continues that heritage. The leather stitching was consistent and clean, the seams straight and smooth. The seat leather felt rather robust and thick, which made me wonder if this was the highest quality leather Audi offered. It didn’t have the supple smoothness of the other seats I’ve seen, as if they selected a lower grade to skimp a little on the costs. They were still nicely built – and heated, too! – so it’s a small nit to pick. Another surface that caught my eye as out of place was the steering wheel horn pad. The airbag cover seemed to consist of some rather common plastic vinyl, which felt out of place to me. The vast majority of the material in the interior reflected the high quality brand Audi pushes, so these are the most minor of complaints.
Interior Comfort and Ergonomics
As mentioned above, the Audi A4 had almost all of the features you would expect in a luxury sports car. One of the high points for the A4 was the excellent iPod integration. I was able to surf my play lists and manage my songs faster using the Audi knobs and buttons than the Apple wheel and clicks. That says a lot when a car company can beat a consumer electronics company known for intuitive controls! I was able to set up shuffle play, skip songs, jump to other play lists with a click or a twist or a button. The only flaw was that it didn’t seem to remember some of my settings when I turned off the engine. The iPod integration was the best part of the command control system, which overall provided a usable interface to manage all the computer functions.
Entering a destination into the navigation system was tedious, but nobody has done a stellar job on that front. Another high point in the interior was the intelligent guidance on the rear view camera while in reverse. The navigation screen flips to the rear view camera and provides guidance lines on where the car will go depending on how the steering wheel is pointed. While this isn’t a new feature, Audi does it better than others.
Finally, I am still impressed by the controls for the sun roof- easy, simple and fast to open it, close it, or pop it up. As for room, the A4 provides a spacious cabin for a sports car. The rear seat is far more accommodating than the Infiniti G37and easily accommodates a six-foot adult.
The trunk is also quite deep, but a bit narrow. You could fit two bags of golf clubs or a lot of luggage. However, if you have a tee time for four, borrow an SUV from someone else in the group, as you’d have a hard time accommodating four sets of golf clubs.
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