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Review of the 2017 Audi A4: The Bavarian Slayer?

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On: Tue, May 31, 2016 at 7:37AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Review of the 2017 Audi A4:  The Bavarian Slayer?

For the past two decades BMW has been touting its 3-Series (along with just about all of its other models) as the "Ultimate Driving Machine", and, in all fairness, not many cars have come along to present too much of a challenge to the throne. The 3-Series has been decidedly dominant, no matter how you slice up the sales charts. But, as with any champion, there are always contenders vying for the title, and BMW's bread-and-butter sales-stud may have finally met its match. Slowly but surely, the folks over at Audi have been steadily putting together better cars year after year, and the 2017 A4 2.0T Quattro may have just what it takes to knock out the champ once and for all.

From any angle, the new A4 is a looker. From the sleek head and taillight set-up, to the large front grille, to the sporty 18-inch aluminum wheels, the Audi plays the part of prestige and poise perfectly. Things like a sunroof, a rearview camera, xenon headlights, power front seats, auto-dimming mirror, leather interior, and your choice of Android or Apple phone relations, all come standard. As with any luxury car, there are always more options to be had. Check off the Premium Plus trim option package for $3800 and you'll get a 755-watt 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system that has a mini jack, CD player, two USB ports, and Bluetooth. There's also an anti-theft alarm, heated seats with memory, and even an S-line body kit. Still not good enough? How about the Prestige trim? Tack on another $4800 and you'll get a digital gauge cluster, heads-up display, and a Tech package that adds navigation, a bigger center screen, rear-end collision warning, and blind-spot monitoring. Oh, and did we mention the heated rear seats, electronically adjustable suspension, and cooled sport front seats too.

But a luxury car isn't just about how if feels just sit inside it. No, a modern luxury car has to move you, while it moves you. As you might have guessed from the name, the 2.0T spins to life with an iron block/aluminum head, direct-injected 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that gets a bit of a bump in power thanks to some clever fuel remapping to the tune of 252 horsepower and an impressive 273 lb-ft of torque. Not surprisingly, these figures are just enough to edge out the latest BMW 3-Series just enough to have bragging rights—don't think that was an accident. Backing that turbocharged four is a very slick-shifting 7-speed dual-clutch automatic that replaces the outgoing 8-speed conventional auto. There will even be a six-speed manual option which, again, is targeted directly at BMW clientele. Whatever transmission you choose, power gets routed through the famous Quattro all-wheel drive system that can channel as much as 40% of torque to the front wheels if need be, and all four tires claw the ground and make for a quick escape with very little commotion.

The result of that acceleration efficiency are some very impressive numbers. The A4 sprints to 60 mph in only 5.2 seconds, to 100 mph in 13.9 seconds (which actually also doubles as its exact quarter-mile time), on the way up to its governor-limited 130 mph top speed. And, thanks to a reasonable curb weight (especially considering the additional weight from the AWD setup) and a decent weight distribution split of 56/44 front/rear, the A4 hustles around the skidpad posting a very solid 0.90 g. Slam on the brakes at 70 mph and the Audi will all but throw the anchor out from the trunk and come to a stop in a mere 154 feet. Just for reference, that is only three feet longer than it takes a $200,000 McLaren 570S. For some overall perspective on just how impressive the 2017 A4 is in terms of performance, it was only about a decade ago that those numbers belonged to the high-end S4, and are now available on the base model. Even the fuel efficiency is very good for a car that can put down quick numbers, how does 24/31 city/highway sound?

The 2017 A4 is a true pleasure to drive. Opt for the $1000 adaptive damping suspension that lowers ride height by almost half an inch, thanks to adjustable dampers that have three different modes of use. Or try the $750 Sport package that drops ride height by almost a full inch, thanks to a firmer suspension (and no, both of those packages can't be had together to drop the car 1.5-inches, they have to draw the line somewhere). Whatever you choose, the first thing you'll notice is how incredibly quiet the car is from the inside. It's as if you're hermetically sealed inside away from the world at large. The slick drag coefficient of only 0.27 (better than a Corvette), makes the Audi slip quietly through the atmosphere; and while it is still a front-wheel drive based car at heart, it's hard to tell, thanks to the continuously variable torque split the car is always dishing out. It's easy to drive, and easy to drive quickly.

The 2017 A4 is much more than the sum of its parts. It is a complete car that offers a complete driving experience. But, luxury does come at a price. Even the entry-level luxury in this case comes with a base price of $40,350 and, depending on the options you choose, and there are many, you can walk out the door short almost $55,000 when it's all said and done. Looks like Audi took another page out of the Bimmer handbook—options, options, options. But, Audi has also put a lot of work into making the A4 a driver's car on every level, and they have succeeded. This new car is fun to drive and keeps you engaged the entire time you're behind the wheel. Has the 2017 A4 finally uprooted the 3-Series as the new champ of the luxury sedan market? Stay tuned, and we will all find out together!

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