2017 Audi A4 quattro Review and Road Trip By Larry Nutson
2017 Audi A4 Quattro
5 Star Rating From The Auto Channel
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
February 2017 had me immersed into the fabric of the deep south. Outside of a brief couple days at home for the 2017 Chicago Auto Show media-previews I took up residence in Charleston, South Carolina. This purposeful change of scenery still allowed me to go about my business in a bit more-mild climate.
Ironically, Chicago’s winter was relatively mild having gone for the first two months of the year with no appreciable snowfall. Chicago temps climbed into the sixties and even to seventy in February forcing a “false spring” on nature.
At the tail-end of my Carolina-getaway I had planned to head further south to visit family along Florida’s Gulf Coast and then head slightly north again to join my wife at a business conference in Orlando. This all provided a nice opportunity to again experience the 2017 Audi A4 in the environs of the modest-size Charleston and then on a long highway drive.
The Audi A4, I knew, would be a great road trip car. I’d driven it about six months ago and experienced its comfort, poise, low fuel consumption and overall driving pleasure. The A4 is sold around the world but it’s design and engineering heritage is strongly influenced by the needs of the German Autobahn, the twisty inclines of the Swiss Alps as well as the Autopista of Italy.
I had a few days with the A4 around Charleston for some in-city driving as well as a couple of highway drives. Beyond the quiet and responsive powertrain, a number of features on the A4 help make urban use particularly nice. Charleston still has a few stone-paved streets. An historic reference to its storied past as a seaport and center of cotton commerce. Even though necessarily driven at slow speed over the cobblestones the A4’s suspension does a fine job of absorbing the surface roughness and does not leave you with your teeth chattering.
The power-fold outside mirrors don’t unfold until you start the engine, making for easy vehicle access in tight parking conditions. The trunk opens wide with its hands-free feature making for easy arms-full loading. On locking the car with the key fob, the alarm signal is a gentle chirp rather than a loud blast of the regular car horn.
For those tight parking maneuvers there is not only a rearview camera but the A4 also has Audi’s parking system plus with a top view camera. The optional ventilated front seats kept me comfortable in moderate temperatures without needing the air conditioning.
My long road trip south would entail about eight hours of driving. Leaving Charleston takes you on a state road to connect to I-95. Traffic sign recognition displayed in both the virtual cockpit as well as the optional head-up display worked well to keep me aware of speed limit changes as I passed through numerous populated areas along the state road.
I set my destination in the navigation system before starting out. But note, however, that a feature I really like is the ability to set the destination while underway. I very much dislike vehicles were you inefficiently have to remain stopped to program in a destination.
The yellow light for the blind spot warning is installed in the inboard edge of the outside mirrors making for easy visibility through the door glass. Adaptive cruise control functions smoothly to keep a safe distance from a vehicle in front. I didn’t experience too many drivers trying to jump in front of me, but that can happen since we Americans tend to tailgate a lot.
Audi worked hard on aero-accoustic noise and I found the overall cabin noise level to be comfortable, making for easy music listening from the 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D Advanced Sound System. I did pick up some tire noise depending on the road surface and this was reconfirmed by my brother and sister-in-law on a drive to see some spring training baseball. The A4 I was driving was shod with 245/40 all-season tires on 18-inch wheels. Perhaps a taller profile tire such as 50-series on 17-inch wheels would be a bit more too my liking.
The outstanding news on my A4 drive is the low fuel consumption. The overall average for about 900 miles of driving remained in the range of 32 to 34 mpg. And, I didn’t need to try hard to do this. The EPA test-cycle rating for the A4 quattro is 31 mpg highway, which I easily beat.
The A4 for 2017 is all-new with a refined exterior design and significantly changed interior. On an all-new aluminum-hybrid platform, it’s lighter, has increased rigidity and is a bit larger.
The 4-door, 5-passenger 2017 A4 sedan continues to be offered in three trims, with one engine/transmission configuration and in the choice of front- or all-wheel drive.
The 2.0-L Turbo engine has been reworked and now produces 252HP. It’s mated to a newly developed seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmission for both the front-wheel drive and quattro all-wheel drive A4s. Audi’s drive select has four modes – comfort, auto, dynamic and individual – that allows the driver to change gear shift points for increased throttle response, steering assistance and damper control and adaptive cruise control adjustments.
The A4 trim levels, all with the 252HP engine, are Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige with prices starting at $37,300. Premium Plus gets you 18-inch wheels, Bang & Olufsen Surround Sound System, LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors and a few other items. The Prestige model loads up everything including a head-up display and is priced at $48,000 for the Quattro model.
Audi also offers a driver-assistance package that includes the adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition I mentioned, as well as lane assist and high-beam assistant. Also available are frontal collision mitigation system with automatic braking and rear collision mitigation. These driver-assistance safety features provide excellent technology for safer driving and the reduced risk of collision and injury. Take a look at www.audiusa.com for more details, specs and pricing on the entire A4 line-up.
Choosing a new vehicle, whether it be car, SUV or a pickup for that matter, is not an easy task. The good news is “there are no bad cars today.” I’m beyond the need for an SUV and very much prefer driving a car that allows me to slide down into the driver’s seat, sit low and enjoy the road ahead.
In new vehicle shopping it is often not possible to satisfy 100 percent of your needs. Actually, it may be wrong to do so. For example, selecting a particular vehicle just to be able to do something with it once a year. There are lots of rental possibilities today for that odd job. If I were in the market for a new luxury sedan, the A4 would be given serious consideration.
© 2017 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy
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