Last year Audi made a bold move by dropping its convertible and V-6 engine variants from the A4 lineup, leaving just the turbocharged 2.0-liter to power both the sedan and avant. Your choices may be fewer, but going back to basics means that the A4 isn't making compromises with expensive larger engines or outdated technology (see 2009's V-6 and convertible if you don't believe us). The A4 still sports what is considered to be one of the best interiors in the class, with quality and refinement that is hard to beat. Exterior styling – those LED-accented headlights! – is modern and unique as well. The third-generation MMI (their infotainment system) is continuing to improve, handling is impressive, and one benefit of the smaller engine is that the A4 boasts superior fuel economy, even with Quattro all-wheel drive. New for 2011 is an eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmission, an additional factor behind its reduced fuel consumption. In fact, the A4 is easily one of the stronger contenders in the bunch, but expect the BMW 328i , Mercedes-Benz C300 and Infiniti G37 to put up a good fight. And if you really need a drop-top or a V-6, the A5 and S4 are ready and waiting for you to take a test drive.
What's to Like
The Quattro all-wheel drive system continues to be one of the best in the industry. The interior's design is clean and simplified without being boring and comfortable. Fuel economy is great.
What's Not to Like
While the MMI is great, the navigation system is overly complex, with unintuitive commands and odd menu choices. The gearbox is a little sluggish from first gear, and the engine offering is underpowered compared to rest of segment.
The Drive: Driving Impressions
While driving the Audi A4 Quattro, one is immediately aware of the balance it strikes. One part luxury sedan, one part performance sedan. On the luxury end, the drive is whisper quiet and smooth. The forgiving suspension controls irregularities in the road without softening it beyond feeling. But when it comes to performance, the turbocharged engine delivers solid acceleration despite, on paper, not having the numbers of the V-6s out there. Handling is taut, and the Quattro all-wheel drive system is a standout. It sends power to the wheels that need it, resulting in a vice-like grip around corners. Sport mode keeps the rpms higher to give you nearly instant power should you need it. The tiptronic gearbox isn't as fast to shift as we'd like it to be – we're not sure eight gears were necessary, but you won't find any turbo lag in this car, so acceleration still feels quick.
Engine and Drivetrain
The A4 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 211 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. It's a small en...