2006 S4 New Car Test Drive
Officially launched as a 2005.5 model, the Audi A4 line is all new from the ground up, and the 2006 lineup features new engines and new equipment packages. The A4 is a near-luxury, premium-grade car similar in size to the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class, smaller than midsize sedans like the Infiniti G35, larger than compacts like the Honda Civic.
The all-new Audi A4 is fun to drive and comes with all the sporty bits and pieces. It feels like it's on rails going around corners. High-quality construction is evident inside and out. Quattro all-wheel drive and the latest in active safety features helps keep the driver on the road no matter the conditions or situation.
The 2006 A4 comes in a range of models. Drivers who need to carry gear or cargo will appreciate the Avant wagon, which offers the cargo bay of a wagon while maintaining the A4's sporty driving character. Enthusiasts who just can't get enough power and want race track handling may prefer the S4, which features a powerful V8 engine and high-performance underpinnings.
The A4 has state of the art powertrains, with intercooled turbochargers, multi-stage intake manifolds, variable valve timing and the latest technological advance: direct injection, the cleanest and most efficient means yet devised of blending fuel and air in an engine's cylinders. Audi's progress hasn't stopped with the engines. Each of three transmission choices is a good one. The standard gearbox is a six-speed manual, while options include a six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic and a continuously variable transmission, which uses a steel belt and a pair of infinitely adjustable pulleys replace gears and hydraulic pumps to deliver a truly seamless shifting experience. Four-wheel independent suspension with geometry that keeps tires on the true track throughout the compression range is augmented with standard electronic stability assistance that keeps the car going where the driver wants it to when the driver can't. And, of course, there's Audi's quattro all-wheel drive.
State-of-the-art safety is included, for the most part, at no added charge. Besides the electronic stability program, there are antilock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution. Airbags abound, with the only extra-cost set a pair protecting rear-seat occupants against side impacts.
The 2006 Audi A4 comes in sedan and Avant (wagon) body styles. Two engines are available for the A4. The 2.0T models use a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 200 horsepower. The 3.2 models have a 255-hp 3.2-liter V6. The S4 features a 340-hp 4.2-liter V8. Sedans are available with front-wheel drive, which Audi calls FrontTrak, or Quattro all-wheel drive. Avants come exclusively with Quattro. (A new convertible is expected within the next year or so.)
The 2.0T FrontTrak sedan offers a choice of six-speed manual ($27,640) or a CVT continuously variable automatic transmission ($28,550). The 2.0T Avant Quattro comes with a choice of six-speed manual ($30,450) or six-speed Tiptronic automatic ($31,650).
The A4 3.2 FrontTrak sedan is fitted exclusively with the CVT ($33,940), while the 3.2 Quattro sedan offers a choice of six-speed manual ($34,840) or the Tiptronic automatic ($36,040). The 3.2 Avant Quattro offers a choice of manual ($35,840) or automatic ($37,040).
Standard upholstery in the A4 2.0T is cloth. The A4 3.2 comes standard with leather. The A4 comes with a luxurious list of standard equipment: dual-zone air conditioning; cruise control; tilt and telescoping steering wheel; power 12-way driver's seat, power auto-heated outside mirrors, power central locking; driver-selected, auto-on running lights; multi-speaker stereo with six-disc CD changer, wired for satellite radio; and carpeted floor mats.
Options include Bose premium audio with Sirius or XM satellite radio ($1,000) and a DVD Navigation System ($1,950). Option packages add myriad features. Among them: The Premium Package ($1,850) comprises Homelink, power front passenger seat, rain sensor, heated front seats, auto-dimming interior mirror with compass, auto-dimming and electrically folding exterior mirrors, and 17-inch wheels and all-season tires. A Sunroof Package ($1,400) also includes leather seating surfaces. Technology Package 1 ($1,275) offers bi-xenon headlamps, adaptive front lighting, memory for the driver's seat adjustment and exterior mirror positions and a color trip computer. Technology Package 2 ($1,775) adds Bluetooth and voice control to Package 1. A Cold Weather Package ($400) includes heated rear seats and a ski sack. Also available: dark walnut wood trim ($400), and polished Vavona light wood trim ($400). New for 2006, customers who place an order with the dealer and are prepared to wait can select from a broader selection of options and colors. These include a multi-function four-spoke wood and leather steering wheel ($500), rear Parktronic ($350), power rear and manual side sunshades ($400), headlight washers ($150), and special paint colors.
New for 2006 is the S-Line package ($3,000), which features firmer suspension components, 18-inch cast alloy wheels and performance tires, special bumpers, special badging, S-Line steering wheel and brushed aluminum trim. The Sport Suspension ($250) and 17-inch cast alloy wheels with all-season tires ($150) can be ordered.
Safety features include a comprehensive array of airbags and full-coverage side air curtains as standard equipment. Rear-seat side airbags ($350) are optional. Front-seat active head restraints are standard, and all seating positions have adjustable head restraints and three-point seatbelts. Antilock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution are standard. An electronic stability system designed to keep the car going where it's supposed to when the road goes bad or the driver pushes it too far also comes standard. A tire pressure monitor system ($250) is optional.
The most recent variant on the A4 platform is the S4, available as a sedan ($46,400), wagon or cabriolet. The S4 comes with a V8 making 340 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque and, according to Audi, is capable of 0-60 mph runs in the low five seconds through its standard quattro drivetrain. All three models come with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed Tiptron.