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Besides having an arsenal of gadgets, the Audi possesses some serious grip. All four wheels seem glued to the road like a mutant gecko. It's quick and possesses this unbelievably tenacious traction. You throw it into a corner and let the car do the work. It is effortless to drive quickly, all the while you feel like you're almost a passenger to the Audi's Quattro genius at work beneath your seat. We wouldn't say that it has quick reflexes; it is responsive but not hyperactive to driver inputs. Needless to say, the A4 is a smooth operator.
The S-line definitely gives this car a slight edge over more typical A4s. The S-line package includes a subtle aero treatment, larger 18 inch rims with sticky rubber, and a more aggressive suspension. The wheels and suspension do transmit a sportier ride to occupants, but it is so well controlled that it?s never tiring. Lesser wagons may offer sporty suspensions, but the ride quality compromises can sometimes transmit undue harshness. The A4 has yet to feel like anything but a solid, comfortable car, while providing the driver with a road weapon with limitless grip and useable power.
Audi?s 3.2 FSI engine is a brilliant power plant. The 3.1-liter, direct-injection V6 produces 255 horsepower at 6500 RPM and 243 lb-ft of torque at 3250 RPM. The torque curve is almost flat, so the V6 provides plenty of grunt at any speed. The engine zips right up to red line, and Audi reports the A4 Avant 3.2 FSI will sprint from 0-60 in 6.8 seconds. It feels faster than that, and we?ve seen other publications publish numbers closer to 6.1 seconds. Either way, the 3.2 FSI is about one second faster to 60 than its 2.0T stable mate. The only tick against the 3.2 FSI model is the lack of a manual transmission. The six-speed automatic does a remarkable job of applying the V6?s power, but you could imagine how insane this wagon would be with a manual. The manual-2.0T spec is probably more tailored to this enthusiast, but there is never anything wrong with combining high-powered V6 engines and manual gearboxes. Oh well! When left in S-mode, the transmission does a pretty good impression of an enthusiast driver rowing the gears.
The silver that covers the A4 is marvelous. The color silver is getting a little played out, but this brings it right back into our mind. The paint seems to be a mile deep, and sparkles in the sunlight. It is beautiful, and it banishes all silver-car malaise. Add to that the aluminum roof rails, and this A4 stops feeling like just another car. Analogies could be made to fine watches, suits, or other luxury goods. The A4 is beyond the typical commodity-like vehicles we all consume on a daily basis.
It?s a good thing the Audi isn?t like other cars, because an A4 like this is hard to justify. At a touch over $47,000, this is probably the most expensive A4 you can buy. Many will not understand the expense you would pay for a machine like this.
When you look at how Audi has put this car together, it becomes clear that it?s more than four wheels, some seats, and an engine. It is very hard to explain that its aesthetics are top notch. For a compact wagon, there are other ?cheaper? options, but when you look at the Audi?s prestigious competition the Audi is actually a pretty good value.
Neither BMW nor Mercedes offer a six-cylinder, all-wheel-drive wagon. Neither BMW nor Mercedes offer a
compact all-wheel-drive wagon with their top-of-the-line engine. Their sedans in the large six-cylinder,
all-wheel-drive configuration, comparably equipped, are priced higher than Audi?s wagon. Not only do they retail for
more, but the Audi A4 has arguably the better interior and higher quality assembly. The quality and sheer
thoughtfulness that went into designing the A4?s interior is mind boggling. There are a couple shortfalls, like the
ultra small door pockets, but overall it?s brilliant.
Alright, we got off track a little on the value proposition of this A4. There are other non-German AWD wagons, such as the wonderful Subaru Legacy. We?re talking about an AWD, turbo four-cylinder, in the case of the Legacy GT. Both the A4 and the Legacy GT have similar horsepower figures, but the grunt and sheer flexibility of the A4?s V6 puts it in another league. Actually, it?s not fair to compare those vehicles either. We hate to gush about the A4?s interior, but it?s worth every penny of the $47k+ sticker price. It may be drab and perhaps a touch uninspired compared to other offerings, but for what it lacks in originality it makes up for in solid quality and finish.