2002 A4 New Car Test Drive
For years the Audi A4 has been one of the best cars in its class. Completely redesigned for 2002, it gets even better.
Some 90 percent of the A4's parts are revised, and there are significant improvements across the board. The new A4 is the first luxury-brand automobile with a continuously variable automatic transmission offered as an option. The cabin, the stereo, the electronic controls and the V6 engine-everything is bigger or more powerful. Perhaps best of all, Audi promises to minimize price increases when the 2002 A4 reaches showrooms in October. Expect hikes of 3 percent or less.
Audi's resurgence as a luxury brand has run concurrent with the A4. This compact sedan has been Audi's bestseller since its introduction in 1995. A combination of thoughtful design, build quality, invigorating performance and sane pricing have made the A4 one of the most respected cars in a class that includes some of the best cars in the world. The redesigned 2002 model has exactly the stuff required in the fiercely competitive market for small luxury sedans.
Two A4 sedans are available, distinguished primarily by their engines: the A4 1.8T ($24,900) with a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and the A4 3.0 ($31,390) with a new 3.0-liter V6.
Remember, the A4 is the entry-level car for a European luxury brand, so all are well equipped, with a full compliment of power amenities. The standard-equipment list gets even longer for 2002, adding sophisticated anti-skid electronics (called ESP for electronic stability program), dual-zone climate control with charcoal filtration, concealed headlight washers and a 150-watt, 10-speaker stereo with six-CD in-dash changer. Standard safety gear includes antilock brakes, dual front airbags that deploy at different rates depending on the severity of a crash, front side-impact airbags, and curtain-style head protection airbags on each side of the cabin. Rear side-impact airbags are optional.
Actually, when you add Audi's trademark quattro system to the standard front-drive A4 1.8T or 3.0, you have four distinct vehicle choices. Quattro is one of the most sophisticated all-wheel-drive systems going, and one of Audi's most popular options. (Quattro adds $1750 to the retail price.) Factor in optional automatic transmissions, and there are seven variants. A new six-speed manual for the A4 3.0 is offered only with quattro (all front-drive 3.0 models come with an automatic).
Initially, the new A4 will be offered only as a sedan. An A4 Avant, or wagon, based on the new sedan will follow within six months, while a twin-turbo S4 high-performance sedan will arrive within a year. In the meantime, Avants (both 1.8T and V6) and S4s based on the 2001 A4 sedan will be sold side-by-side with the new sedan.
Other popular A4 options: power glass sunroof, auto-dimming mirrors, and built in Homelink garage door operator; a Sport Package ($750-$1000) that includes a sports suspension and 17-inch wheels; leather upholstery for the A4 3.0 ($1320); and Audi's GPS navigation system ($1,350). In early calendar 2002, Audi will offer GM's Onstar telematics system, including emergency locating and lock-out service, accident alerting, theft tracking and various concierge services.
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