New sedan is loaded with thoughtful features
Audi claims 90 percent of the 2017 A4 is all-new, but the car’s dimensions and proportions have barely changed. Rather than follow the bigger-every-generation trend gripping the industry, Audi instead sweated the little details to come up with an all-around better car. Some of those details are pretty cool, such as …
As you approach the new A4, the look of the door handles would seem to indicate you should pull on them to open the door. In fact, you actually lift them up. Audi says the switch was made after an internal study showed pulling up was easier and more natural, especially for people with arthritis and similar ailments.
Fixed Nav Screen
One of Audi’s key party tricks has been its retractable navigation screens, which hide in the dash when not in use. Although the A4’s looks retractable, it’s not. Audi decided to save time and money after a survey revealed almost no one ever actually deliberately hid the screen.
Sequential Turn Signals
Hit the blinkers, and rather than simply flashing on and off, both front and rear turn signals will light up sequentially starting near the center of the car and illuminating outward. In addition to looking cool, Audi says the movement gets other drivers’ attention faster than simply flashing the lights on and off.
Smart Ambient Lighting
Not only can you change the interior ambient lighting to more than a dozen different colors, but you can also link it to blind-spot warning system. This way, when you go to open the door, the ambient lighting in the doors will flash red if there’s a car or cyclist about to pass the car so you don’t door them.
In the previous-generation A4, front-wheel-drive models had their engines mounted sideways (transversely), and all-wheel drive models had their engines mounted front-to-rear (longitudinally). The new A4 simplifies that by mounting all engines longitudinally. On front-wheel-drive models, Audi doesn’t install the rear driveshaft, differential, or axles and caps off the output shaft on the back of the transmission (straight Oldsmobile Toronado-style, though gear-driven rather than chain-driven).
Remote Windshield Washer Reservoir
Someone at Audi noticed that when you go to refill your windshield washer reservoir, there’s a decent chance you’ll spill a bit, dirtying up your engine compartment. To alleviate this concern, the reservoir was moved to the front passenger fender, just below the rear corner of the hood. That way, if you spill, it will drain down and out the bottom of the car, and the mess will be hidden (the European-spec Avant wagon is shown here).
Not unique to the A4, Audi paints all of its radiators black. That way, you’ll never see a shiny, metal radiator peeking out from behind the mostly black grille.
3-Zone Automatic Climate Control
Sometimes, you’re just lucky to get A/C vents in the rear seat. In the new A4, you not only get vents, but you can also control the temperature to the degree from the rear seat. The other two zones are for the front-seat passengers, who get touch-sensitive controls that bring up hidden menus when you touch them lightly.
An easy way to save weight is to ditch the spare tire and replace it with a can of fix-a-flat and standard run-flat tires. Run-flats have stiff sidewalls, though, which hurt ride quality. Audi decided to suck up the extra weight and give you a full-size spare rather than diminish the ride quality (see: BMW).
The A4 gets nearly all of the advanced safety features and driving aids of the new Q7 for a lot less money. This means adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, and a feature that will prevent you from turning in front of oncoming traffic. Put them all together, and you have semi-autonomous driving on the freeway (the European-spec Avant wagon is shown here).