The 2009 Audi A4 is a new car, as closely related to the recent A5 as to the outgoing A4. At once familiar as an Audi yet obviously new, it is what you can't see that is most changed.
The 2009 A4 is wider and longer but no taller than its predecessor. It's larger inside with the most notable improvement to rear-seat legroom and it has a bigger trunk that is easier to load. A large increase in wheelbase, which is more than six inches longer than before, increases cabin space and improves ride quality and handling. For the first time, an adjustable suspension similar to that used on larger Audis is available on the A4.
While the engine sizes of 2.0 and 3.2 liters may look familiar both have been revised. Each offers more power and better fuel economy than before. EPA ratings range from 17/26 mpg to 23/30 mpg. All three transmissions have been updated, also.
A4 sedans are available with the 2.0-liter turbocharged and 3.2-liter V6 engines, front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and with six-speed manual gearbox, automatic or CVT automatic. The 2009 A4 Avant (wagon) comes exclusively with the 2.0-liter turbo, six-speed automatic, and quattro all-wheel drive. Avants appear more expensive because quattro and automatic transmission are standard.
Each is offered in three trim levels with added features and amenities commensurate with price. Despite the modest size the A4 comes well-equipped with leather, moonroof and automatic climate control as standard. Features normally associated with big luxury cars are available. Adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and a half-kilowatt surround-sound system come standard.
The new A4 is much better balanced than previously and it is a delight to drive. It's compliant enough to soak up bumps like a larger car but firm enough to feel solid and stable to its (tire-limited) top speed. It rides like a larger car but also handles better than it did, the front-drive version perhaps not as delicately precise as a rear-drive 3-Series but quattro more than holds its own against the other all-wheel-drive cars. It more than holds its own in the rain against other sporty cars.
The Audi A4 competes primarily against the Mercedes C-Class and BMW 3 Series. Also in its class are the Acura TSX and TL, the Infiniti G37 sedan, the Lexus IS, the Lincoln MKS, and the Volvo S40. The A4 has on average more passenger room than the BMW 328, Mercedes C300, or Lexus IS250, a larger trunk, more torque, better mileage and standard leather for a lower price.
The 2009 Audi A4 is available as a four-door sedan or wagon (Avant) and comes with a choice of four-cylinder and V6 engines, and front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive.
The A4 Premium is the entry trim level, which comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, continuously variable transmission, and front-wheel drive ($31,000). A4 quattro Premium ($31,850) comes with all-wheel drive and six-speed manual. A six-speed Tiptronic automatic is optional. Premium models include leather upholstery and metallic trim, climate control, moonroof, power front seats with four-way driver lumbar, leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel and shifter, Audi Concert stereo with color display and Sirius satellite radio, MMI Multi-Media Interface, power heated mirrors/windows/locks, front fog lights and rear fog lights, and 17-inch alloy wheels.
A4 Avant Premium ($34,500) comes standard with quattro all-wheel drive, the 2.0-liter engine and a six-speed automatic transmission. Avant also comes standard with an Open Sky moonroof, roof rails, rear wiper/washer, reversible load floor, and cargo cover.
Options include a Sports Package with 18-inch wheels and upgraded tires, shift paddles, sport seats, firmer suspension), wood trim, heated front seats, Bluetooth prep, HomeLink, Audi Symphony audio system, auto-dimming mirror with compass, metallic paints and rear side airbags.
A4 Premium Plus sedan ($36,700) and Avant ($38,500) use the same drivetrain choices as the Premium but add a 3.2-liter V6 sedan model with Tiptronic and quattro ($40,000) identified by a gloss-black grille. Most of the Premium interior and electronic options are standard here. Also standard are bi-Xenon headlamps and LED running lights, three-zone climate control, driver memory system, trip computer, rain and light sensors, and wider 245/45R17 tires. Options include voice-recognition navigation with backup camera, sport package, wood trim, rear side airbags and Tiptronic.
Top flight is the Prestige model in 6-speed/quattro form on 2.0 sedan ($40,000); V6 automatic quattro 3.2 sedan ($43,300) and 2.0 automatic quattro Avant ($42,300). These add to Premium Plus 18-inch alloy wheels, Advanced key, Audi parking system, Audi side assist (lane departure warning), and a 505-watt, 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system. Options include Drive Select (dynamic steering, adjustable response, continuous damping control, lower ride height), adaptive cruise control, wood trim. The S Line package features a special front bumper and spoiler, side skirts, leather/Alcantara sport seats, contrast stitching, sport suspension, brushed aluminum trim, black headliner,. The Sports package adds S Line 19-inch wheels, shift paddles, sport seats, front lumbar, sports suspension, and rear side airbags.
All A4s come with two-stage driver and adaptive passenger frontal airbags, side-impact airbags, curtain airbags, driver knee airbag, Backguard headrests; electronic stability control, ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, all-wheel drive (on quattro sedan and all Avant) and tire pressure monitors. Optional, or standard on higher-line models, are rear side airbags, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, rear camera, park assist.