At Audi, the phrase “Vorspung durch Technik” (Advancement through Technology) has played a pivotal role in the company’s marketing and direction in recent years. This technology first initiative has resulted in some of Audi’s most revered models including the Audi A8 as well as the R8 supercar. For 2017, the A4 sport sedan aims to fully embrace this mantra with new-found vigor. But can it still maintain the top notch driving experience that many buyers have come to expect? or has it been lost in the quest for progress?
The exterior styling of the A4 has always been known for being a bit more conservative when compared to rivals from BMW and Mercedes Benz, with the 2017 model continuing this trend despite a modest evolution of the design. However, while the aesthetics are not exactly eye-catching, this doesn’t mean that the A4 lacks any good lines to speak of. In fact, the A4 is still a very handsome car, and while the Glacier White metallic paint on our 2.0 T quattro S tronic grade tester did not have the same visual punch as other color hues, the rest of the car has a very clean yet subtly elegant appearance.
This is highlighted by the nice looking crease that runs down the side of the car and extends neatly into the shut line of the clamshell hood. The hood itself features four elegant creases and leads into the broader front grille assembly. The Xenon headlights are narrower than before, but still do an excellent job combining subtle aggression and elegant refinement into one neat design. The rear fascia is a bit on the bland side (typical of many current Audi products) but the wider LED tail lights feature trick sequential turn signals which look especially good at night.
Meanwhile the interior has also seen its fair share of tweaks for 2017 but like the exterior, retains much of the basic elements that helped make its predecessor standout. The cabin is very spacious with plenty of leg and arm room for front seat occupants. The rear seats also offer healthy amounts of leg room, though taller passengers will experience the lack of head room that has come to be typical in many sport sedan entries. Thankfully the cabin doesn’t skimp on amenities, and is a welcoming space dominated by expensive feeling plastics, leather, as well as real aluminium trim.
Our S-Line equipped tester benefited from sportier seats, and they did a good job keeping occupants in place while still delivering excellent levels of comfort especially with the seat heat turned on. A key change that many buyers will notice when they slip behind the wheel of the 2017 Audi A4 is the lack of analog gauges. In their place, is Audi’s all new Virtual Cockpit system. First making its appearance on the TT and Q7 SUV, the display can be configured with either big or small gauges, and can also integrate a detailed map and other trip information within easy view of the driver. With the R8 and TT eliminating the central screen altogether as a result of adopting Virtual Cockpit technology, look for the A4 to possibly follow suit when it is formally redesigned in a few years.
Performance for our tester comes from the familiar 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder TFSI engine that sees duty in a wide swath of Audi and Volkswagen models. Here in the A4, it delivers a solid 252 horsepower and an equally stout 273 lb-ft of torque. The feisty 2.0 liter has a spirited bark, and the 273 lb-ft of torque helps the A4 pull strongly throughout the rev band. A seven speed dual-clutch automatic bucks the recent trend toward eight speed transmissions, and it does a good job delivering silky smooth shifts that are quick and accurate. A six speed manual is also available, but unless your a purist or someone that craves more control in your drive, we recommend sticking with the fore-mentioned automatic and its lighting quick 5.2 second 0 to 60 time with launch mode activated.
Handling in our tester was composed and secure, but the front tires do give up grip sooner than rivals like the BMW 3-Series, and as a result it does not quite have the same amount of fun factor that the Bimmer possesses. Thankfully, Audi engineers developed a system where the inside brakes pulse during hard cornering to help pull the car through and reduce understeer, a neat feature. Braking was stable with smooth and consistent stops.
Pricing for the 2017 Audi A4 starts at $34,900 for a base front-wheel drive premium model with all-wheel drive raising that figure to $39,400. Our loaded tester had a laundry list of options, which helped balloon its final price to a lofty $49,825. Some of the highlights included the $3,800 Premium Plus package, the $3,2500 Technology package, as well as a $1,100 First Edition package that adds a flat bottomed steering wheel, trim exclusive alloy wheels, as well as aluminum trim inserts.
When it comes down to it, the 2017 Audi A4 is still a class leader in refinement, technology, and basic interior design. Granted the exterior styling and chassis dynamics still lean towards the conservative side of things, but buyers looking for a solid handling car that still carries its own form of elegance will not be disappointed with what Audi has unleashed, and that’s always a good thing.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.