2003 A4 New Car Test Drive
Audi aims for its A4 to be the benchmark for sports sedans. The A4 might well be THE benchmark if it wasn't for the existence of the BMW 3 Series. In spite of the big shadow cast by rear-wheel-drive BMW, the Audi A4 is a fantastic sports sedan and certainly a leader among front-drive sedans. The A4 is unquestionably a standard against which sport sedans can be measured, and that fits the definition of a benchmark.
A4 delivers crisp handling, a firm ride, and a well-controlled suspension that make for a precise, high-quality driving experience. A4 feels like it's on rails around fast sweepers, especially when equipped with the Quattro all-wheel-drive system. The 3.0 V6 engine is wonderfully smooth and quite strong, while the turbocharged 1.8T delivers spry performance when paired with the manual gearbox. A host of active safety features help keep drivers on the road. A4's beautifully finished interior exudes quality and ergonomic excellence.
A4 was completely redesigned for 2002 and introduced with a new 3.0-liter V6. A new model, the 2003 A4 Cabriolet, brings top-down motoring to the line, and Avant (wagon) models have joined the new generation. Minor interior upgrades are available for 2003.
Audi A4 comes in three body styles: four-door sedan, two-door convertible, and Avant wagon. Two engines are available: A4 1.8T models are powered by a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine; A4 3.0 models get a new 3.0-liter V6.
Four transmissions are available: five- and six-speed manuals, a five-speed automatic with Tiptronic, and Audi's multitronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). A4 models are available FrontTrak front-wheel drive or Quattro all-wheel drive. Quattro is one of the most sophisticated all-wheel-drive systems going, and one of Audi's most popular options.
A4 1.8T sedan ($24,950) comes standard with cloth upholstery, a five-speed manual gearbox, and FronTrak. Other models include A4 1.8T FronTrak CVT ($26,100); 1.8T quattro five-speed manual ($26,700); and 1.8T quattro Tiptronic ($27,850).
A4 3.0 sedans comes with leather upholstery. Models include A4 3.0 FronTrak CVT ($31,590); A4 3.0 quattro six-speed manual ($32,290); and 3.0 quattro Tiptronic ($33,340).
Avant models (wagons) are similar to the aforementioned sedans, and retail for about $1000 more. All Avants come with Quattro.
Cabriolet is available initially as a 3.0 FronTrak CVT ($41,500), but a 1.8T version will also be available. Cabriolets do not offer Quattro.
All A4 models are well equipped. They come with a full compliment of power amenities, including power up/auto down for all windows (with pinch protection). Standard equipment includes dual-zone climate control with charcoal filtration, concealed headlight washers and a 150-watt, 10-speaker stereo with six-CD in-dash changer.
Safety features that come standard include antilock brakes, electronic stability program (ESP), dual front airbags that deploy at different rates depending on the severity of a crash, front side-impact airbags, curtain-style head protection airbags on each side of the cabin, three-point seat belts at all five locations with pretensioners, force limiters in front. Rear side-impact airbags are optional.
Options for 2003: Premium Package ($2000 for 1.8T) includes leather seating surfaces, power driver's seat with lumbar, glass sunroof, and HomeLink remote transmitter. A Sport Package ($1000 for 1.8T; $750 for 3.0) includes a sports suspension and 17-inch wheels. Audi's GPS navigation system ($1,350) is available for A4 3.0 models.