Brilliance on Four Wheels: The 2017 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0T quattro S tronic

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Audi A4 Sedan
The 2017 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0t.
Our Publisher and Executive Editor said it four years and some months ago, when last TireKicker reviewed an Audi A4: "The worst part of a successful car is keeping the ball rolling...doing the freshening needed to keep the car relevant without losing the thread and screwing it all up."  Michael's assessment at the time was that Audi had succeeded---that the 2013 A4 was, in his words, "simply tremendous".

That meant meeting or exceeding a very high bar this time around.  And more.

Rear 3/4 view of 2017 Audi A4 Sedan
2017 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0 t.
Consider how much has changed in automobiles in the past four years.  Most 2013 models would not be competitive with new vehicles.  Connectivity has become paramount. And with even economy cars coming with a dash of style in many cases, styling has become a key element of setting yourself apart.

Frankly, even as an unabashed Audi lover, the previous generation had taken the smooth bar of soap approach as far as it could go.  The new A4 brings some much needed sharpness and dash to the car, with character lines that make the car look longer, lower and sleeker.

But the real story is beneath the skin.  211 horsepower has become 252.  An EPA-estimated 20 mpg city/30 highway four years ago is now 24 and 31.  A big part of that is the new lightweight aluminum-hybrid construction.  Audi says the chassis has been redesigned for both sportier handling and smoother long-distance travel, and we would say they have achieved both.

Interior view of 2017 Audi A4 Sedan
2017 Audi A4 Sedan interior.
Inside is a revelation and a revolution, taking the design language of the flagship A8 and applying it to the interior of the A4.

A base A4 is $37,300 and it speaks volumes that the quattro (all-wheel drive) version we tested has a base price of only $39,400.  Standard at that price is a seven-speed S tronic transmission, 17-inch wheels, all-season tires, electronic stability control, tire pressure monitoring, xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lights, heated, power-adjustable exterior mirrors, eight-way power adjustable front seats with four-way driver lumbar adjustment, LED ambient interior lighting, a power sunroof, leather seating surfaces, a rearview camera, keyless engine stop/start, three-zone automatic climate control, Audi smartphone interface, an audio system with two USB ports and an old-fashioned auxilary input, a HomeLink garage door opener, rain and light sensor and Bluetooth with audio streaming.

Let that list sink in and remind yourself then that it is a gorgeous, meticulously-designed, state-of-the-art small sedan that costs $39,400.   A bargain of enormous proportions.

Of course, they are not often found with zero options at Audi dealers, nor in manufacturer press fleets. Our test vehicle came to us with nearly $12,000 worth of optional equipment:

  • Moonlight Blue metallic paint: $575.
  • The Prestige Package (an upgrade to 18-inch wheels, aluminum high-gloss window surrounds, a 3D Bang & Olufsen surround sound audio system, heated, auto-dimming, power folding exterior mirrors, an alarm system, SiriusXM All Access service with a three-month trial subscription, heated eight-way power front seats with driver memory, LED headlights, parking system plus with top-view camera system, S-line interior, a full-color head-up display, LED interior lighting plus package, Audi Virtual Cockpit, navigation, and side assist with pre-sense rear): $8,600.
  • Driver Assistance Package (adaptive cruise control, active lane assist, high-beam assistant and traffic sign recognition): $1,800
  • Comfort adaptive damping suspension: $1,000.
With $950 destination charge, the as-tested price for the one we drove was $52,325.  That is a lot of money for a small sedan, even a premium one, even loaded.   It is nearly $5,000 above the base price of an A6.  

But again, it is the options that put it there.  The vehicle itself is reasonably priced for what you get.  In the low-to-mid $40,000 range, it would still represent very strong value.  And with some restraint on the options, that is very achievable.