Since its debut a decade and a half ago, the Audi A4 has built a reputation as a versatile entry-level luxury car. It’s strong on design, with superb handling and personality. The Audi 4 offers a lot to different car buyers.
Not many vehicles in the same class are offered as a sedan, convertible and wagon, and that’s another strong trait for the vehicle often credited with jettisoning Audi out of its sales slump and image problems in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The ’08 Audi remains largely unchanged from 2007. The minor alterations include new bumpers and a new lower side door trim.
The A4 is available with one of two engines. A 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 cylinder produces 200 horsepower and the 3.1-liter V6 has 255 horsepower. My weekly test drive is the 2.0-liter, turbocharged Quattro, Audi’s all-wheel drive system.
Audi A4 sedans have either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive and a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. I’m testing the six-speed automatic transmission.
The A4 is Audi’s top-selling line and there are plenty of reasons. It’s a fine choice for drivers seeking a sporty sedan that smoothly finds its way in any driving scenario via its stellar steering and handling and sophisticated design.
But not everything is quite right with the A4. My test vehicle’s base price is $2,000 above the $30,000 average price of a new car in the United States — at that’s fine. But with its various options, including Convenience ($2,100) Sport ($2,000) and Audio ($1,000) packages, navigation system ($2,000) as well as taxes and delivery charges, the out-the-door price approaches $42,000. That’s one good reason for a financial purchasing pause.
The A4’s handsome interior design, attractive body style, exterior color (light silver metallic) and interior color (black) all work well together.
But how the Audi shines is not via its color patterns. It’s with its aforementioned superior steering and handling. Every time I drive the car, I’m impressed with Audi’s engineering and the all-wheel drive system. The A4 grips the road, the steering seems ideally weighted and the vehicle gets above-average quietness marks.
Combined with the clean interior lines and intuitive attractive instrumentation panel and the Audi is a a near front-runner in a class led by the BMW 3 series.
But there is one major issue. The A4 is that it’s classified as a four-passenger sedan. The Audi has a rather deep and extended trunk, and as a result, even regular-sized rear seat passengers are pressed into tight quarters. There’s minimal head and leg room, the rear cabin is cramped and the entry/exit areas are tight.
In National Highway Transportation Safety Administration frontal crash tests, the A4 rated four stars out of five; In side impact testing, the car earned a perfect five stars for front occupants and four stars for those seated in rear.
The 2008 Audi A4 attained a “Good” rating (the highest possible) for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s frontal offset, side-impact and head restraint effectiveness tests.
Safety Features — Driver and front passenger front and side airbags.
Fuel Mileage (estimates) — 19 mpg (city), 27 mpg (highway).
Warranty — Bumper to bumper, 4 years/50,000 miles; Powertrain, 4 years/50,000 miles; Corrosion, 12 year/limited miles; (24-hour) roadside assistance program, 4 years/50,000 miles.
Base Price — $32,300.
Price As Driven — $41,700.