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Expert Reviews 1 of 6
By Jim Flammang
June 23, 2005
Vehicle Overview Volkswagen's luxury division redesigned its compact, entry-level A4 sedan and A4 Avant wagon during the 2005 model year, giving them larger engines and a fresh front-end look.
Each body style comes in 2.0T form with a turbocharged four-cylinder or in 3.2 guise with a V-6. The previous versions of the car, 1.8T or 3.0 (so named for the smaller engines), are also being sold as 2005 models, and the Cabriolet (convertible) version is still based on the previous design. (Skip to details on the: A4 Cabriolet | redesigned A4 sedan and Avant wagon)
Since 2002, the A4 has offered an innovative, multitronic continuously variable transmission. For 2003, the A4 sedan and A4 Avant got a standard six-speed-manual transmission and a tire-pressure monitor.
Sedans and Cabriolets are available with FrontTrak front-wheel drive or quattro all-wheel drive. The Avant wagon comes only with quattro all-wheel drive.
Optional assistance with General Motors' OnStar communication system has been dropped for 2005, and the available xenon high-intensity-discharge headlamps now are dual-beam type. A Special Edition Package includes a rear spoiler, 17-inch cast-alloy wheels and other step-up items.
Exterior Some styling themes on Audi's top-selling A4 were adapted from the company's round-profile TT sport coupe and midsize A6, but the A4 is more angular at the rear. A trapezoidal-link independent rear suspension is installed. Each body style has a double grille, a triple-tube headlight module, a contoured tail and chrome exhaust pipes.
Standard tires are 16-inchers, but 17-inch tires can be installed. Xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights, a sunroof and a Parktronic rear parking-assistance system are available.
Interior Sedan and wagon models seat five people and have four-way power lumbar support. The seat cushions have prominent bolsters. Standard equipment includes automatic dual-zone air conditioning and an Immobilizer II anti-theft system. Audi Telematics by OnStar is optional. Audi's navigation system, which works without a video map, is available.
Under the Hood A 170-horsepower, turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder powers all 1.8T models. An aluminum 220-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 is installed in 3.0 editions. A five- or six-speed manual may be installed, depending on the model. The CVT is available only in models equipped with FrontTrak, but sedans and wagons with quattro all-wheel drive can have a five-speed Tiptronic automatic that permits manual selection of simulated gears.
Safety Standard curtain-type airbags deploy from above the side windows in the A4 sedan and Avant. Side-impact airbags for front occupants are standard in all models, and rear-seat side-impact airbags are optional. An Electronic Stabilization Program incorporates Brake Assist. All seat belts have pretensioners, and LATCH child-safety seat tethers are installed.
Driving Impressions Audi's A4 series has a lot to offer, but the highlight is its available multitronic CVT. Operating so subtly that the driver is hardly aware of its presence, the CVT does everything an automatic transmission promises but without any gear changes. Passing response is excellent, and most drivers should quickly get used to the lack of actual shifting.
With its gearshift flicking easily between ratios and mating to clutch action, a manual-shift A4 is also enjoyable, but the lever's position may not please everyone. The turbocharged four-cylinder responds eagerly but is a little noisier than the V-6.
Handling prowess is the strong point. The A4 joyfully tackles twisting roads, taking every turn in stride. Ride comfort is satisfying due to a nicely absorbent suspension, but passengers can be jostled a bit when the pavement gets harsh. The A4 is snug inside, but the seats are outstanding.�
A4 Cabriolet Emphasizing luxury over sportiness, the A4 Cabriolet delivers a refined top-down experience. This car exhibits strong, confident, quick-responding performance, but it's not quite exuberant. The convertible is easy to drive, and it stays impressively flat through curves. It maneuvers capably, but its steering isn't the most precise. Even on imperfect pavement, the ride is comfortable as the suspension transmits minimal fuss. The seats are superb: pleasantly cushioned, masterfully supportive and snugly — but not excessively — bolstered.
Two bars behind the rear seats of the A4 Cabriolet deploy upward when a rollover is imminent. A strengthened windshield and A-pillars provide extra protection.
The A4-based suspension was lowered slightly for use on the A4 Cabriolet. Like the A4 sedan, the Cabriolet has a double grille, a triple-tube headlight module, a contoured tail and chrome exhaust pipes. Flared wheel arches accent the bodysides. Brushed-aluminum trim goes around the windshield and along the waist.
Five-spoke cast-alloy wheels on the Cabriolet hold 16-inch tires. A wide arch roofline for the convertible top enhances the body's subtle wedge profile. A heated glass rear window incorporates electric defrosting. A cover closes flush with the body. A wind deflector is available.
Four people fit inside the A4 Cabriolet's sporty cabin. Audi's Symphony radio includes an in-dash six-CD changer and nine speakers. Standard equipment on the Cabriolet includes a four-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated power mirrors and height-adjustable front seats with four-way electric lumbar adjustment. Automatic dual-zone climate control works with sun and pressure sensors. Parktronic parking assistance and a navigation system are available.
As the redesigned A4 sedan and wagon go on sale during 2005, Cabriolet production is continuing in previous-generation form. Back to top�
Redesigned A4 sedan and Avant wagon Midway through the 2005 model year, Audi launched a redesigned and enlarged sedan and Avant wagon, with bigger four-cylinder and V-6 engines that feature direct fuel injection. The A4 gets a new, larger grille that's similar to the one on the midsize A6 sedan. Both the carryover and the redesigned versions of the A4 are officially considered 2005 models.
Audi says all of the sheet metal is new. The new turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder produces 200 hp and 207 pounds-feet of torque, while the available 3.2-liter V-6 develops 255 hp and 243 pounds-feet of torque. Transmission choices include a six-speed manual, six-speed automatic and CVT.
The brake pads can touch the disc to wipe away water in rainy weather. Audi has installed the latest generation of its Electronic Stabilization Program and revised the steering axis to eliminate torque steer. Optional adaptive headlights can pivot up to 15 degrees.
The refined A4 is as solid as before and even more appealing in its redesigned form. Plenty of power hails from the V-6, but it comes in a civilized manner. Despite a taut suspension, the ride is magnificent on smooth roads and recovery is swift when you do hit a bump or hole.
Strong performance with the turbocharged four-cylinder is devoid of turbo lag, and that engine is a tad more spirited than the V-6. The manual gearbox shifts easily, while Audi's automatic transmission is well behaved; it shifts without any harshness. Ride quality is nearly as good with the available sport suspension as it is in regular form; the differences are subtle.
Audi's ultra-smooth CVT works masterfully. After a slight hesitation in the first moment after takeoff, the car moves ahead with some haste. Passing attempts at low speeds, however, sometimes yield a shortfall of response. You hear a little engine noisee while accelerating with the CVT, but not much. Back to top
Expert Reviews 1 of 6
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