New A4 Drops Weight, Improves Handling
The redesigned 2017 Audi A4 sedan is said to be noticeably lighter than its predecessor despite being slightly larger than the outgoing model. Volkswagen claims that front-drive A4 models, which are based on VW‘s Modular Longitudinal Kit architecture, are 99 pounds (45 kg) lighter than before and that the all-wheel-drive Quattro models are 66 pounds (30 kg) lighter overall. We spent some time on the canyon roads outside of San Diego in some examples of the new car and put a 2017 Audi A4 Prestige 2.0 Quattro model through its paces at our regular test venue.
Power for the 2017 Audi A4 sedan comes from the automaker’s turbocharged, 2.0-liter TFSI I-4 mated exclusively to a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission. With a compression ratio of 9.6:1, the turbocharger pumps 21.5 pounds (10 kg) of boost into the direct-injected DOHC engine. The engine makes 252 hp from 5,000 to 6,000 rpm and 273 lb-ft of torque from 1,600 to 4,500 rpm.
Audi claims the new 2017 A4 can reach 60 mph in 6.1 seconds in front-drive form and 5.7 seconds with Quattro all-wheel-drive. In testing, our 2017 Audi A4 Prestige 2.0 Quattro hit 60 mph in 5.4 seconds and finished the quarter mile in 14.0 seconds at 99.1 mph (159 km/h). Impressive. The last 2012 Audi A4 Quattro we tested with a turbo 2.0-liter (211 hp, 259 lb-ft) and eight-speed automatic took 5.8 seconds and 14.4 seconds at 94.5 mph (152 km/h), respectively.
Although the 2017 Audi A4 sedan had plenty of power around town and in passing maneuvers, we had one powertrain complaint. When pulling out of a driveway or parking lot, we noticed a small lag before the car took off. We had to put our foot down a little farther and a little longer in order to slip quickly into the traffic flow. We attribute the hesitation to the combination of the dual-clutch transmission and slight turbo lag.
Stopping from 60 mph took 105 feet in the 2017 Audi A4. That’s 8 feet shorter than the 2012 model. Credit that not-so-insignificant stopping improvement to the 2017 model’s standard aluminum brake calipers at all four corners, with four-piston calipers up front.
Our 2017 tester lapped the figure eight in 25.3 seconds at 0.74 g average and pulled 0.92 g average around the skidpad. The 2012 model did the same deeds in 25.9 seconds at 0.69 g and 0.91 g, respectively. At 3,666 pounds (1,663 kg), our loaded Prestige model was just 44 pounds (20 kg) lighter than the previous car.
All testing was done with the optional 18-inch alloy wheels (part of the Prestige package) wrapped in all-season Hankook Ventus S1 Evo2 tires (245/40R18). Our tester also featured the available adaptive damping suspension (includes a ride height 0.4 inch lower). Base models come with 17-inch alloy wheels with all-season rubber, and 19-inch alloy wheels with summer tires are also available. We expect cars with the 19-inch summer tires will put down even better performance numbers. The 2012 model rode on a set of all-season Pirelli Cinturato P7 tires in the same size.
Although the A4 was quick around the figure eight, Motor Trend testing director Kim Reynolds said it was “kind of in a boring way.” He expounded, saying it had “extremely well-controlled motions, turns in crisply, and had excellent brake power and feel, too.” Reynolds let the car upshift, but he took over downshifting duties. “With stability control off, it turns in OK but then pushes,” he said of its performance at the limits. “Doesn’t feel like you’re murdering the front tires as these cars have done before, but it’s the same recipe.”
Much of the redesigned A4’s handling improvements can be attributed to the new chassis and adaptive damping suspension, but Audi also revised the suspension. Up front, the multilink suspension gains a fifth link, which connects the steering knuckle to the subframe aft of the front wheel. A revised version of the rear five-link suspension returns. New aluminum bits for the suspension also contribute to the overall weight loss.
Although the car had some understeer at the limits in our handling tests, the 2017 A4 was devoid of understeer on the street. The new chassis and re-engineered suspension contributed to neutral handling during spirited street driving—especially on the canyon roads outside of San Diego, California.
If the new A4 sedan’s performance doesn’t impress you, the new styling should. The new digs are an evolution of the automaker’s current design language; the 2017 A4 features a chiseled look devoid of any superfluous bodylines or styling elements. Thanks to a trick hood hinge, the automaker was able to integrate the hood and fender line into a crease that runs from the edge of the (optional) LED headlights along the side to the edge of the LED taillights. The feature eliminates a cutline higher up on the hood. Speaking of taillights, the sequential rear LED turn signals add a sense of class and style at the rear.
Inside, the optional Audi virtual cockpit and Audi MMI Navigation plus with MMI Touch is one of the most sophisticated digital instrument cluster and infotainment systems in the business. The instrument cluster is reconfigurable and can even display a large map simultaneously as the large center-mounted screen. The Virtual Cockpit features a massive 12.3-inch LCD screen with 1440×540 pixel resolution and a NVIDIA quad-core processor. The Navigation system sports a fixed 8.3-inch TFT display with 1024×480 resolution.
Although the 2017 Audi A4 sedan 2.0 quattro S tronic starts at $40,350 USD (including $950 USD destination), our Prestige model has a base price of $48,950 USD. Standard features include LED taillights, heated, power side mirrors, eight-way front seats with four-way driver’s lumbar, leather seats, heated and cooled front seats with driver’s seat memory, LED interior lighting, power sunroof, rearview camera, keyless entry and push button start, three-zone climate control.
The ($8,600 USD) Prestige trim adds 18-inch wheels, the Audi Virtual Cockpit and Audi MMI Navigation plus with MMI touch, a Bang & Olufsen (16-channel, 19-speaker, 775-watt) surround-sound system, Sirius satellite radio, Audi’s advanced key, an alarm system, a full-color head-up display, LED headlights, a park-assist system with top-view camera, the S line exterior, and more.
Other options include the $1,800 USD Driver Assistance package (adaptive cruise control, active lane assist, high-beam assist, traffic sign recognition), the $1,450 USD Warm Weather package (ventilated front seats, manual rear window side shades), the $1,000 USD adaptive damping suspension, and the $500 USD Cold Weather package (heated rear seats, heated steering wheel).
Our tester topped out at $54,275 USD.
The 2017 Audi A4 sedan is a significant improvement over the already capable previous generation and should put up a good fight with the best cars in its segment. Sounds like a comparison test is in order.
|2017 Audi A4 2.0T quattro (Prestige)|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$54,275|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||2.0L/252-hp/273-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed twin-clutch auto.|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,666 lb (56/44%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||186.1 x 79.6 x 56.2 in|
|0-60 MPH||5.4 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.0 sec @ 99.1 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||105 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.92 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||25.3 sec @ 0.74 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||24/31/27 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||140/109 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.73 lb/mile|