We recently tested the Audi S4 sedan and were blown away by the beautiful sedan’s stunning performance and luxo interior. So, we wondered, can you get the same kind of thrills from the less powerful, less expensive 2022 A4 sedan? Let’s find out.
Aggressive and Stylish
Like the S4, the A4 makes a bold first impression. In fact, you’d have to be an Audi-phile to know our model was the less expensive model.
You get the same segmented LED running lights framing the hexagonal headlights. The same large – but not over the top – grille, and lower side intakes. The subtle difference includes a quattro badge replacing the S4 in the grille, and thanks to Black Optic Plus package, the chrome Audi rings on the S4 were blacked out. From the front, the A4 is all business!
The profile is a twin to the S4 – which is good, because this is such a handsome design! You have the same snug greenhouse, short front and rear overhangs, and sharp contour line that pierces the door handles. Audi spotters will notice the A4’s S line badge on the front fender and lower door trim that’s blacked out.
The biggest difference are the wheels, the A4 wearing optional 19” 5-arm trapezoidal spoke wheels in magnesium finish, versus the slightly beefier looking 5-V-spoke alloys on the S4. While we love those S4 kicks, we’ll admit that the A4’s 5-spokes look unfussy but serious, and like the S4 we like the step away from blacked-out wheels that are so commonplace today.
The rear is equally Audi-dacious, with the slash-angled LED taillights that flow in a segmented pattern when signaling. Our A4 features blacked out rings and badging on the rear, making it a bit more subtle, and instead of the S4’s massive quad round exhaust pipes, you get dual oval outlets that are sporty, but nowhere near is impressive.
We were madly infatuated with the S4’s Turbo Blue paint, which is gorgeous and unusual. Our A4 was no wallflower either, with a very bright Tango Red Metallic paint scheme. OK, red is not the most unusual color, but on the A4’s beautifully crisp lines, it really pops. And we applaud Audi for serving up something beyond the white, black, silver tones that seem to be the calling card of most European sport sedans.
First Class Cabin
The same lovely interior that you expect in the expensive S4 is a lovely surprise in the A4. There are a few differences – the S4’s Nappa leather sport seats are swapped out in the A4 for handsome leather sport seats that look a bit less aggressive but serve up some additional padding for added comfort. Fully adjustable and ultra-supportive, they’re great seats in their own right. Like the S4 the rear seat room remains tight for adults, but they do flip down for carrying longer items with ease.
Other than the seat surfaces, you get the same first-class treatment with high-end materials that look a cut above the competition. Our tester had the Audi Virtual cockpit that gives you a choice of displays and can serve up key information right in your line of sight. Need more? The heads up display is bright and clear. And with wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and wireless charging, you can kiss charging cords goodbye.
Like the S4, the 10.4-inch color touchscreen is mounted tablet-style on the center dash, and along with Audi’s MMI infotainment system, it’s simple and easy to use. As we noted on the S4, that tablet style dates the A4 a bit, with full width displays like the BMW M340i and even the Audi A3 presenting a cleaner, futuristic look.
The drive is what really separates the two siblings. In the A4 you have a choice of two 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder turbo powertrains, the 40 with 201 horsepower, and the 45, like our tester with a much more muscular 261 hp, and 273 lb. ft of torque. Go for the power!
The 45 is a lovely powertrain, smooth and refined, but with a caveat, once you’ve driven the S4, with that brawny and vocal 349-horse 3.0-liter turbo V6, the A4 will seem tame. You’ve been warned.
That aside, the A4 45 is quite quick, with 0-60 coming in around 5 seconds, and the A4 just smooths on the power and hustles with no muss (we like) and no fuss (ok, we’d like a little more fuss).
It pulls strongly and smoothly, and with a 7-speed automatic it puts you in your gear of choice quickly – except that darn 8-speed in the S4 gave you a nice whump in the back as you fire through the gears…
The A4 features standard quattro AWD, and like the S4 the grip is phenomenal and the confidence impressive. We had (for LA) unusual rainstorms, and the A4 shrugged off the wet roads like they weren’t even there.
One place where the A4 trumps the S4 – the lighter engine makes the nose feel lighter, and more responsive to the steering – you toss it around with the fingertips, where the S is more of a full hands-on experience. And while the big-buck S4 may have more ultimate grip, the A4 is a delight on your favorite twisty road, yet is even more limo like in the daily commute. It’s your well-mannered luxury transport that can turn up the wick when you want. Win-win.
It’s efficient too, we easily saw low 30’s on the freeway. Around town, we had too much fun dipping into the Turbo Zone and were lucky to eke out 20 mpg. The bigger the lead foot, the bigger the gas bill….
So how much for this refined sweetheart of German engineering? The A4 40 starts at $40,300. For a premium luxury sedan, that’s good value. Personally, we’d opt for the more powerful A4 45 S line like our tester, starting at $42,000.
Like our S4, the options list on the A4 is tempting, but you have to keep an eye on the bottom line. Case in point: our whole-enchilada tester featured the Prestige Package ($8,900), Black Optic Plus Package ($1,200), Black Optic Plus 19” alloy wheels ($800), Ventilated Front Seats ($800), and AUDI Beams Rings ($275). Add in destination at $1,045, and we rang the bell at $55,615. Being a little more judicious with your build will reduce sticker shock.
Competition would include the BMW 330i, offering more of a sporty vibe, with a little less luxury for $51,600 If you’re willing to go outside the European realm, the Lexus IS 350 F sport features a powerful 311 hp V6, is stylish and beautifully made. While it may lack a bit of the Euro feel, it is a strong competitor at a comparable $55,000.
And of course, there’s always the bigger sibling S4 hanging around in the showroom trying to woo you with the siren song of turbo V6 power. Starting at $51,900 it’s a wonderful performance bargain. (Mind you, our fully optioned tester was $67k!)
Beautiful inside and out, quick, incredibly refined and comfortable, the 2022 Audi A4 is pure European luxury and design – a polished gem!
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.