2010 Audi A4 Tiptronic SedanPosted on January 6th, 2010
Mid-sized sport sedan sprints to the head of the pack
By Nina Russin
Audis are to the automotive world what wide receivers are to football: solid as a rock, yet lightning fast. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the A4: a mid-sized sport sedan that competes against the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C Class.
Engineers imbued the two-liter, four-cylinder engine with exceptional throttle response, thanks to direct injection: a technology used throughout Audi’s model lineup. Unlike traditional port fuel systems, injectors deliver the gas directly into the cylinder, bypassing the valves. Doing so reduces the amount of unburned gas, enhancing fuel economy. Because the fuel vaporizes instantly, direct injection also improves throttle response.
The six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission includes a sport mode for more aggressive performance. The driver can manually select gears if he prefers.
Quattro all-wheel drive makes the wheels stick to the road like glue, whether driving through rain, snow, or on dry pavement.
Use of aluminum throughout the body and suspension gives the A4 the ‘light on its feet’ feel that I alluded to in the opening paragraph.
A4 updates to the 2010 model are primarily comfort and convenience features: a new version of the multi-media interface includes Sirius traffic updates, and a Bang & Olufsen audio system is optional on the premium grade.
Champion of the urban commute
While my travels over the past week didn’t extend past the city limits, I did spend some quality time in rush-hour traffic. The premium package on the test car adds xenon headlamps, seventeen-inch alloy wheels, tri-zone climate control with heated front seats, Bluetooth interface and a rain/light sensor.
The car also comes with optional voice-activated navigation and a rearview camera with ultrasonic park sensors.
Heading towards downtown Phoenix the Monday morning after the holidays, I was happy to have the Tiptronic transmission in lieu of the manual gearbox. Feathering the clutch is fun on a winding mountain road, but in dense traffic, it’s a chore. While the Tiptronic transmission isn’t quite as much fun on the open road, it’s a good compromise for driving purists who have to commute.
Speed-sensitive steering provides exceptional on-center response on the highway, along with plenty of low-speed assist for maneuvering through parking lots. A 37.4-foot turning radius makes it easy to parallel park or do the occasional U-turn.
Visibility is quite good all the way around the car. I had no problems seeing vehicles in the adjacent lanes.
Four-wheel independent suspension includes front and rear anti-roll bars to keep the chassis flat in the corners. The seventeen-inch wheels dress up the exterior and give the A4’s tires large contact patches with the ground.
Engineers did an excellent job of eliminating wind noise around the front glass and mirrors. A pleasant exhaust note was the only interruption to the car’s audio system.
The two-liter engine offers exceptional power. Boost from the turbocharger is instantaneous: as good as any supercharger I’ve tested. In addition to adding power, the exhaust-driven blower also improves engine efficiency and hence gas mileage. My average fuel economy for the 100-mile test drive was comparable to the EPA 23 mpg estimate.
The A4 will comfortably seat up to four adults: a high floor tunnel and the center console minimize legroom in the middle rear seat. Heated front seats give keep passengers comfortable in temperature extremes. A separate temperature control and vents behind the center console service the second-row passengers.
Redundant audio, Bluetooth, information and cruise controls on the steering wheel minimize driver distraction. Audi’s multi-media interface uses a mouse device to control functions on the central navigation screen. The device is easy to reach from either front seating position and intuitive to operate.
Both rows of passengers have ample access to cupholders: in the center console and a fold-down armrest in back. The front doors also have map pockets and bottle holders. Dual overhead reading lamps over both rows illuminate the interior at night.
Standard satellite radio is a boon for anyone who spends lots of time in the car. The real-time traffic updates can be a lifesaver for those who have to travel during rush hour. Fighting both morning rush and holiday traffic during the test drive, it helped me to avoid a couple of dicey situations.
The rearview camera projects a wide angle view to the back of the car on the central navigation screen. Lines superimposed over the image show the car’s trajectory according to steering inputs. The system makes parking in crowded lots much easier. It also makes it easier to see vehicles approaching from either side.
Pass-through extends the cargo floor
The rear seats collapse in a 60/40 pattern to extend the trunk’s cargo floor. While sedans are not as well suited for carrying bicycles as cross-utility vehicles, the A4 can easily handle skis, snowboards and other large items. The trunk also has a cargo net to hold smaller items, and tie-down loops on the floor for securing large cargo.
The A4 comes standard with front, side and side curtain airbags, four-channel antilock brakes and electronic stability control. Audi’s factory warranty includes four years of roadside assistance.
Audi builds the A4 at its assembly plant in Neckarsulm, Germany.
Likes: A mid-sized sport sedan with exceptional power, performance and fuel economy.
Dislike: Lack of legroom in the second-row middle seating position.
Model: A4 TFSI quattro Tiptronic sedan
Base price: $33,550
As tested: $41,380
Horsepower: 211 Hp @ 4100 rpm
Torque: 258 lbs.-ft. @ 1500 rpm
Zero-to-sixty: 6.6 seconds
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 21/27 mpg city/highway
Comments: Base price does not include an $825 destination charge. The manufacturer recommends using 91-octane fuel.
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