Volkswagen's luxury division redesigned its compact, entry-level A4 sedan and Avant wagon midway through the 2005 model year by giving them larger engines with direct fuel injection. A new, larger grille was similar to the one on the midsize A6 sedan.
Each body style comes in 2.0T form with a turbocharged four-cylinder or in 3.2 guise with a V-6. The A4 Cabriolet is still based on the previous design, though a redesigned version is expected for 2006.
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Sedans and Cabriolets are available with FrontTrak front-wheel drive or quattro all-wheel drive. The Avant wagon comes only with quattro.
Three new models have joined the 2006 lineup: a 3.2 quattro sedan, an Avant wagon with a six-speed-manual transmission and a 3.2 front-drive sedan with Audi's multitronic continuously variable transmission. A new S-line series includes a sport suspension, trunklid lip spoiler, sporty side sills and brushed-aluminum interior trim. A hill-hold function has been added to all CVT models.
Audi continues to offer a high-performance S4 series, which is listed separately in the cars.com Research section.
"Unmistakably Audi" is how the German automaker describes its smaller series, flaunting the brand's sporty character. Clear-glass headlights have sweeping lower edges and an inward taper. Body-colored bumpers are said to accentuate the car's low center of gravity. Visibly flared wheel arches round out the picture.
Standard tires on 2.0T models measure 16 inches in diameter, but 17-inch tires are installed on models with the V-6 engine. Xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights, a moonroof and Parktronic rear parking assistance are available. Optional adaptive headlights can pivot 15 degrees.
Sedans and wagons seat five people and have four-way power lumbar support. The seat cushions have prominent bolsters. Standard equipment includes automatic dual-zone air conditioning. Leather seating surfaces are included in 3.2 models. The available Audi Navigation Plus system has a 5-inch video screen.
Under the Hood
A 200-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder powers 2.0T models. An aluminum 255-hp, 3.1-liter V-6 is installed in 3.2 editions. A six-speed-manual gearbox is standard in all models except the 3.2 FrontTrak. The multitronic CVT is available only in models equipped with FrontTrak, but sedans and wagons with quattro all-wheel drive can have a six-speed Tiptronic automatic that permits manual gear selection.
Side curtain-type airbags deploy from above the side windows. Side-impact airbags for front occupants are standard, and rear-seat airbags are optional. Audi's Electronic Stabilization Program incorporates Brake Assist.
In its redesigned form, the A4 is as solid and even more appealing than its predecessor. It joyfully tackles twisting roads, taking every turn in stride. Despite a taut suspension, the ride is magnificent on smooth roads and recovery is swift when you hit a bump. Ride quality is nearly as good with the available sport suspension.
Plenty of power hails from the V-6, in a civilized manner. Strong performance with the turbocharged four-cylinder is devoid of turbo lag, and it's a tad more spirited. The manual gearbox shifts easily, and Audi's automatic transmission works without any harshness.
Audi's ultra-smooth multitronic CVT works masterfully and subtly. After slight hesitation during 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 noise while accelerating with the CVT, but not much.
Even after the redesigned A4 sedan and wagon went on sale during 2005, Cabriolet production continued in previous-generation form. A new S-line edition with a sport suspension and 18-inch wheels replaces the Sport package for 2006. Heated rear seats and rear Parktronic parking assistance are available.
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 easy-to-drive convertible stays impressively flat through curves. Though it maneuvers capably, 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.
Twin bars behind the rear seats 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 prior-generation A4 sedan, the Cabriolet has a double grille, a triple-tube headlight module, a contoured tail and chrome exhaust pipes. 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 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. Back to top
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Jim Flammang||Cars.com National||October 24, 2005|
|Larry Printz||The Morning Call and Mcall.com||December 16, 2005|
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