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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Aug 20, 2006

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


In The Beginning Back around 1995, Audi was still reeling from the "unintended acceleration" scare that dominated the headlines, thanks largely to a now-discredited report by the CBS news program, 60 Minutes. Sales were down. More importantly, Audi was suffering from an image problem, which was not helped by less-than-stellar reliability reports on some of its key product. The company was also introducing a new, small sports sedan at the time, replacing the company's 80 and 90 models: The A4. It was an outstanding vehicle, with a novel, light-alloy suspension system and a vault-like unibody structure - both of which made the A4 a good handler in either front-wheel or all-wheel drive form. The car also had a great design - one that would later be copied by competitors the world over. So confident was Audi about the A4, that it initiated a novel ride-and-drive program to get the word out. It targeted car enthusiasts. These are the people that often get asked to recommend cars by their friends and relatives. The idea was that if it can get the enthusiasts enthused about the A4, they will, in turn, recommend the car to those around them.

Audi on a Roll The car was a big hit for Audi, and marked a sales and leadership roll that includes the widely-copied, J Mays-designed second-generation A6, the even more widely-copied, Freeman Thomas-designed TT, the highway-friendly SUV alternative Allroad, and the world's most successful race car, the R8. Audi followed up the success of the original A4 with its second-generation model in the Fall of 2001. The car was handsome, with its chiseled-from-metal design. But Audi must have thought the design too conservative when it designed the current, third-generation A4. The newest A4 sports Audi's bold, trapezoidal grille first found in production on the company's W12 A8 luxury sedan.

The Newest A4 The newest A4 provides an even higher level of driving pleasure than past models. As with A4s of the past, the base model is excellent. It has Audi's new 4-in-line turbocharged 2.0 T, which includes the Fuel Straight Injection system made popular by Audi's R8 race car. It's the first engine to combine turbocharging with the FSI concept of gasoline direct injection. The 2.0 T produces 200 hp from 5,100 to 6,000 rpm. The maximum torque of 207 lbs. ft. is available from 1,800 all the way up to 5,000 rpm. This is an exceptional engine, being smoother, more powerful, and quieter than the outstanding 1.8T that suited past Audis so well. It also returns better gas mileage, returning EPA figures of 24 mpg in the city and 32 on the highway for our CVT automatic-equipped car. In the smartly sized A4, the 2.0T engine delivers plenty of power to the pavement. The weight-savings of the small engine also keeps the A4 light on its toes, and very responsive to steering maneuvers. One can add greater grip with the Quattro all-wheel drive or more oomph with the larger, more powerful V6, but there is something to be said for keeping things basic. The A4 carries a base price of $28,240. For that, you get all the basic goodness of the A4. The excellent CVT automatic-equipped car goes for $29,440. A word on the CVT transmission is worth mentioning here. It's virtually as quick and frugal on gas as the manual. It also has Sport and manu-matic Triptonic modes, which turn the CVT into a sporty and virtual 7-speed transmission vehicle. As automatic transmissions go, it's one of the better ones.

S-Line interior The S-Line If you want to kick it up a notch, the 2007 A4 model line has an available S-line package that consists of a sport suspension, 18-inch 5-arm quattro GmbH wheels with 235/40/18 performance tires, S4 front and rear bumper, side sills, S-line specific grill with thicker verticle lines, rear trunklid spoiler (roof spoiler on Avant), and S-line badges on the grill and rear side doors. The interior of the A4 has always been the class leader, but the S-line vehicles take it a little further with S-line scripted door sills, brushed aluminum trim, and a three spoke with perforated leather and triple red/black/silver stitching, S-line badge, and shift paddles on CVT and Tiptronic equipped cars. All-in-all, a great package, but it does add $3,000 to the car. If you're going to go for it, you might as well consider the new option package on top of the S-line that brings even more edge to the car's appearance. Available on A4 2.0T and 3.2 FSI sedan and Avant models equipped with the sporty S line package, the Titanium package - created by Audi's subsidiary quattro GmbH in collaboration with Audi of America - is Audi's response to North American customers asking for a sportier appearance for their vehicles. At $500, the package provides a lot of bang for the buck: · 18-inch Titanium colored 15-spoke wheels with high performance tires · Polished black front grille frame · Black exterior window trim and black roof rails for the Avant · Black interior headliner · Piano black interior beltline trim

Titanium Package S-Line wheel The A4 standard audio system provides both quality and convenience, with the second generation of the Audi Symphony radio, an in-dash six-disc changer (in glovebox if navigation is ordered), a 10-speaker sound system, and satellite radio-ready circuitry. The optional BOSE® sound system with AudioPilot noise compensation provides an extra measure of concert hall atmosphere in the A4. It is, however, an extra $1,000 - and the standard system isn't exactly shabby. The Audi range of options is virtually enless, and it's easy to get carried away. Our loaded test vehicle, for instance, carried a price approaching $40,000 - a lot a dough for a car with a four-cylinder engine (albeit, this one made the 10-best engines sold in the U.S. list by Wards). Take it easy on the options, and you're left with a great German sports sedan for not a whole lot of money. The A4 has come a long way since those early ride-and-drive days. This writer partook in one of those early ride-and-drive events. It not only got me enthused about the car, it helped inspire the publication of LA Car. Yes, in a roundabout way, the Audi A4 was responsible not only for the company's turnaround, it was largely the reason that LA Car exists today. What a legacy.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT The latest in a continuing line of excellent A4s. Try not to get too carried away with the options. For more information on Audi products, go to SPECIFICATIONS

Name of vehicle: Audi A4 Sedan 2.0T Price: Base, $28,240 CVT automatic transmission-equipped, $29,440 As tested, $39,685 Engine type: 2.0-liter DOHC FSI turbo-charged, inter-cooled 4-in-line Horsepower: 200 @ 5100-6000 rpm Torque: 207 lb.-ft @ 1800-5000 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine / front-wheel drive (all-wheel drive optional) Transmission type: Six-speed manual (standard) Optional continuously variable (CVT) automatic transmission, with seven-speed Sport auto-mode and Tiptronic manu-matic mode driving features. Suspension: Front: Four-link light alloy design Rear: Self-tracking trapezoidal-link light alloy design ESP electronic stability control (standard)

Wheels and tires (as tested): 18-inch titanium color 15-spoke GmbH wheels with 235/40-18 high performance tires Brakes: Front: 12.6-inch vented discs with ABS Rear: 11.3-inch solid discs with ABS Overall length: 180.6 inches Overall width: 69.8 inches Overall height: 56.2 inches Curb weight (pounds): 3428 manual/3450 CVT automatic EPA mileage estimates City/ Highway: 23/34 manual 24/32 CVT automatic 27 combined (both manual & automatic) Top Speed, mph: 130 (electronically limited) 0-50 mph: 5.1 seconds (manual & automatic) 0-60 mph: 7.1 seconds (manual) 7.3 seconds (automatic)

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