The only way you can tell this apart from the last car is to put 'em side-by-side.

2017 Audi A4 2.0T quattro Premium Plus Review

Brand spankin' new inside and out, but who can really tell?

By: Amos Kwon

Web2Carz Editor-In-Chief

Published: June 9th, 2016

The average layperson probably can't tell generations of Audi A4 apart, especially the last three. Slight modifications to the grille, headlights and taillights don't amount to a whole lot of noticeable differences. But that's the way of Audi. They don't do big dramatic shifts in design, though their offerings are always handsome and tend to still look great ten, even twenty years later. Take a look at the A8 flagship from the mid 1990s. It still looks fantastic.

And the all-new 2017 A4 follows that lead. Though the car is wholly new, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between this one and a 2016 model. Most of the changes, after all, are inside the car. Believe it or not, the exterior is completely different, but in such a way as to be truly under-the-radar. We took the 2.0T in Premium Plus trim out for a week-long spin and here are our impressions of this venerable sports sedan.

  • Driving Impressions

    Make no mistake, the new Audi 2.0T gets more than just seemingly small aesthetic tweaks. Audi still means for it to be a sports sedan, so power is up from 220 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque to a healthy 252 hp and 273 lb-ft. That's no small change, and you feel it when you get on the gas. Power isn't "slam-you-into-your-seat" fast, but it builds with authority and the car moves very quickly. The turbocharged inline four-cylinder spools up in no time and has no noticeable lag.

    Audi kept the power delivery from being alarming, and the quattro all-wheel drive keeps things very manageable, as does the seven-speed dual clutch automatic. It engages easily and shifts smoothly. Though there's ample speed, there's rarely any drama to it. The engine note is strong and there's even a nice snarl to it.

    • Ride Quality: In auto mode, the ride is excellent and the adaptive damping suspension handles pretty much everything well. Dynamic mode gets a bit jarring but amps up the fun factor.
    • Steering: The electrically assisted power steering is adjustable and tends to be a bit on the light side, lacking effort when you want it.
    • Acceleration: Not alarming by any means but absolutely authoritative. It launches to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, providing more power than you need on a daily basis.
    • Braking: The brakes are strong but get a bit grabby in mid-range pedal depression.
    • Handling: There's minimal body roll in corners, but the car is nose-heavy and you feel it when you push it hard. Under normal circumstances, however, the A4 manages the curves well.

  • Technology and Safety

    The new A4 in Premium Plus trim is better outfitted than even the flagship A8. It's basically a rolling technology piece, especially with the big 12.3-inch high-resolution TFT dispaly from the TT sports coupe. What this "virtual cockpit" does is bring vital information to a better location right in front of the driver, eliminating eye travel to access various layers. It also makes climate controls easier to access and view.

    Audi continues to innovate, and this is probably their best example in years. Though it doesn't add any significant levels of features, it does make the driving and driving controls experience much easier. We hope to see this kind of thinking pervade other luxury brands.

    • Infotainment Screen Size/Quality: The best in the business not just by virtue of its immense size but also thanks to its usability and position in the instrument cluster. The speedo and tach change in size, and all the information is available right there with steering wheel controls as well as center console controls.
    • Bluetooth Phone Pairing: Seamless and easy. No issues here, and phone recognition when re-entering the car is quick and flawless.
    • Voice/Sound Quality: Great voice quality on both sides of phone calls, and the Bang & Olufsen surround sound system upgrade is well worth it.
    • Controls: You won't really find better controls in any German car. Way less confusing than BMW or Mercedes-Benz. HVAC controls are especially good and well-placed on the center stack now that infotainment has been moved.
    • Safety: The A4 has ample safety features like emergency brake assist, dusk-sensing headlamps, stability and traction control, Pre- and Post-collision safety system and emergency braking preparation that reduces braking distances.

  • Exterior Design & Styling

    Though the A4 has been totally redesigned, practically no one can tell. Nothing's really dramatic about it except for the shape of the headlights. Audi was able to get its thin strip of LED turn signals passed by the federal government, and now they show up in the headlight's revised shape with a jagged inside edge that's a bit lightning bolt-esque.

    Overall, the car is still very handsome and definitely on the evolutionary side in terms of styling. Audi has faithful customers, and Audi didn't want to make any sweeping, dramatic exterior changes and risk losing them. They aren't taking the Lexus route, in other words. The bad part, in our opinion, is that the new style is barely noticeable. Maybe Audi customers prefer it that way.

    • Front: The trapezoidal grille is still big but more angular, and the headlights look completely different, with the LED strip at the top and the bottom inside edge. Big air intakes still flank the grille.
    • Rear: The new taillights are slightly more dramatic but still pretty subtle. Thankfully, Audi didn't make the rear more complex, and it still works quite well./li>
    • Profile:Not much change here, either. The three-box design goes largely unchanged with the exception of a a more squared-off front, albeit slightly. The car still looks great from the side, as it does from just about every angle. Just don't look for visual drama.

  • Driver and Passenger Comfort

    Audi's biggest change on the new A4 is the interior. The center console and shifter are totally different, as are the infotainment display and controls. The move is brilliant and a foreshadowing of things to come on other models. The new shift knob is one of the most noticeable changes. It much shorter, more comfortable, better looking and better positioned.

    As always, driver and passenger comfort are excellent. Audi makes fantastic seats (though not as good as BMW or Volvo, for that matter). The interior is festooned with great standard equipment, including sunroof, rearview camera, leather seats, auto-dimming mirror, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a wicked 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system and heated seats with memory function.

    • Front Seats: Superb support and great bolstering. The leather in black looks less than spectacular, but the feel of the seats is excellent. Long trips are a breeze.
    • Rear Seats: The same goes for the rear passengers. The middle position is compromising but not bad. Plenty of legroom for the main passengers as rear legroom increases 1/2 inch over the last car. /li>
    • Visibility: Audi's thin pillars work well here, and visibility all around is great. Big glass and good seating position certainly help.

  • Storage and Cargo Room

    German sedans don't exactly welcome huge amounts of gear since much of the interior of Audis (and BMWs and Mercedes) sports sedans are about design, atmosphere and techology. So, there's nothing revolutionary about the storage or cargo situation here. The Audi is a very practical sedan that makes decent use of space but lacks big binnacles for storage. The trunk size has increase slightly.

    • Storage: The center armrest lacks any depth, but the open tray in front is useful for small items. Cupholders in front of the shifter aren't huge and can't accommodate anything tall or they'll obstruct the center stack.
    • Trunk/Cargo Room: Audi bumps up the trunk space slightly from 12.4 cubic feet to an even 13 cubic feet of space.

  • Final Impressions

    There was nothing really wrong with the last A4, except that it lacked a bit of power and needed better steering. The power has certainly been addressed and the steering is improved in the new A4 -- the car definitely drives better than the previous generation. But the most noticeable aspect of the car is the revised interior, display and controls, all of which make for a rich and well-executed interior that bests its competitors. The car is a very good step forward, and it solidify's the A4's overall competence and desirability for the consumer who wants a premium German brand with a solid arsenal of bells and whistles.

    In terms of overall design and refinement, the A4 is hard to beat in this segment. In our trim, it provides solid safety features, all-wheel drive, good driving dynamics and an exterior that will still look great when the next generation car arrives. It's supremely quiet, very comfortable and well-outfitted at $47K. Driving enthusiasts can aim for the BMW 3-Series and the luxe-minded can aim for the Merc C-Class. All-'rounders will shoot squarely for the A4 and never go wrong.

  • Price & Specifications

    Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder

    Transmission: 7-speed S-tronic dual clutch automatic transmission

    Drivetrain/Layout: all-wheel drive, front-engined

    Power Output: 252 hp / 273 lb-ft of torque

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 24 city / 31 highway

    Base Price: $39,400

    As Tested: $47,900 (incl. $950 destination charge)

    Standard Features:Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, LED taillights with dynamic turn signals, heated and power adjustable front seats with 4-way driver lumbar adjustment, LED ambient interior lighting, power sunroof, leather seating surfaces, rearview camera, keyless engine stop/start, three-zone digital automatic climate control, Audi smartphone interface, Audi music interface wiht two USB ports and 3.5mm aux-in, Audi pre sense basic & city, Audi drive select, Audi sound system, 3-spoke leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel with shift paddles, HomeLink garage door opener, rain & light sensor, Bluetooth with audio straming, 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatback.

    Options on our test vehicle: Premium Plus package: 18" 5-spoke Dynamic wheel design, contrasting gray, 245/40 all-season tires, aluminum high-gloss window surrounds, 3D Bang & Olufsen Surround Sound System, heated/auto-dimming/power-folding exterior mirrors, alarm system, SIRIUSXM Satellite radio with 90-day subscription, Audi advanced key, Audi connect CARE (limited time subscription), heated/8-way power front seats with driver memory, LED headlights, Parking system plus, S line exterior; Technology Package: Audi MMI Navigation plus with MMI touch, Audi connect PRIME & PLUS (6-month trial), Audi side assist and pre sense rear, Audi virtual cockpit; Cold Weather Package: heated rear seats, heated steering wheel.

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