Curtain-type airbags are standard on all models this year, and turbocharged A4 models have more horsepower. The compact-size A4 is Audis entry-level sedan, and the S4 is a high-performance version. Both models also are available as station wagons, which are labeled Avant.
Curtain airbags that deploy from above the side windows were optional on the A4 last year, but this year the feature is standard. The curtain airbags cover the entire side windows and stay deployed for about five seconds to provide head protection in rollovers; they were already standard on the S4. All models also have side-impact airbags to protect the bodies of front-seat occupants. Audi has extended its warranty for 2001. The basic warranty is now for four years/50,000 miles, one year longer than before, including free scheduled maintenance.
Audi, which is Volkswagens luxury division, plans to introduce a redesigned A4 sedan as a 2002 model using some styling themes from the rounded TT coupe. The new A4 sedan will be followed by coupe, wagon and possibly convertible models.
The A4 is 178 inches long a few inches longer than the Honda Civic and has soft, rounded styling that resembles that of the larger Audi A6 and A8 sedans. The S4 shares the A4s styling and dimensions but has 17-inch diameter wheels and tires instead of the 15 or 16-inchers used on the A4.
The front seats provide ample room for large occupants, but the rear seat lacks legroom for tall people. The optional power sunroof steals about 2 inches of headroom, putting an even greater squeeze on tall occupants. The attractive dashboard places most controls where they are easy to see and operate.
Under the Hood
Engine choices for the A4 are a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 170 hp 20 more than last year or a 2.8-liter V-6 with 190 hp. Both engines are available with a five-speed manual or Porsches Tiptronic five-speed automatic transmission. Tiptronic allows fully automatic operation or manual shifting by steering wheel-mounted switches.
The S4 has a 250-hp, 2.7-liter V-6 with twin turbochargers and a choice of six-speed manual or the Tiptronic automatic transmission.
Front-wheel drive is standard on the A4, and Audis Quattro permanently engaged all-wheel-drive system is standard on the S4 and optional on the A4. The Electronic Stabilization Program, a lateral anti-skid system, is a new standard feature for the S4 and a new option for the A4.