2021 Audi A4 evaluate: No-nonsense, entry-level luxurious

The A4 is a little bit of a looker, particularly with the sportier S Line lodging seen right here.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

When a purchaser first dips their toes into luxurious sedans, they have a tendency to start out small. In consequence, the compact-lux phase requires automakers to place forth a stable effort with the intention to maintain these first-time patrons coming again for extra. To that finish, the 2021 Audi A4 brings a ton of package to the desk in an effort to face out from the group.

LikeComfortable and enjoyable to driveSolid client tech

Do not LikeLimited storage in each cabin and trunkNegligible fuel-economy change over 2020 mannequin

Essentially the most notable replace for the 2021 Audi A4 is the addition of a 12-volt mild-hybrid system, in addition to changing the bottom front-wheel-drive setup in favor of AWD throughout the board. Each the bottom 40 and the higher-output 45 variants obtain this improve, in addition to a small energy bump — not that both model essentially wanted it. My tester packs the beefier model of Audi’s 2.0-liter turbocharged I4, which now produces 261 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque.

The A4 45 may not be a correct sports activities sedan just like the peppier S4, however holy heck, it could possibly nonetheless scoot. Between the mild-hybrid system and the engine’s personal low-down torque, this four-door will soar off the road like a canine that simply heard the phrase “exterior,” particularly if I swap out of the usual Consolation mode, which softens throttle response with the intention to spotlight easy, environment friendly driving. The mild-hybrid system does an incredible job within the background, serving to lower the engine earlier in deceleration whereas beginning it again up easily. The seven-speed automated transmission is a bit of sluggish to reply in sure conditions, however in any other case it is content material to hang around behind the scenes. Gentle steering and easy-to-modulate pedals additional improve the expertise.

The EPA charges the 2021 A4 45 at 24 miles per gallon metropolis and 31 mpg freeway, numbers that I’ve no downside reaching, even in gross, wintry situations. The confounding factor is, although, the EPA charges the outgoing 2020 A4 with all-wheel drive at 32 mpg freeway, so… the place’s the positive aspects from the gentle hybrid? Positive, the slight electrification provides advantages like extending stop-start working, however based on the feds, that further little bit of mechanical complexity is a wash.

The journey in my tester is a bit of on the tough aspect, however that is by design. Not solely does this automobile embody 19-inch alloy wheels ($800), which limits tire sidewall dimension and inhibits bad-road mitigation, it additionally rocks a $250 sport suspension that makes sprightly driving a bit extra participating by flattening out the dealing with. These searching for a extra comfort-oriented journey will need to skip over these packages, but it surely does not go too far in a single route; the expertise remains to be sufficiently damped on good roads.

Even in case you do not spec the bigger wheels, there are nonetheless methods to gussy up the 2021 Audi A4. This automobile additionally carries the $500 Black Optic package deal, an affordably priced improve that ditches the outside chrome in favor of gloss-black trim. The 2020 refresh did wonders for the A4, giving it a a lot more energizing face that higher matches bigger choices just like the A6 and A8. It is nonetheless on the nameless aspect, however low-key is not a nasty factor; moreover, there are nonetheless enjoyable prospers right here and there, just like the miniature gentle present that takes place within the matrix-style LED headlights (a part of the highest Status trim) each time I lock or unlock the automobile.

The inside does not escape the upcharge potential, both. For $500, Audi will throw in a flat-bottomed steering wheel, aluminum trim and sportier seats wrapped in leather-based and Alcantara suede. It is a sharp little mixture that provides a stunning quantity of visible oomph for not that a lot cash. The seats are supportive with out being tight, and heated suede or material at all times feels higher to me within the winter than chilly leather-based. There’s loads of area for my six-foot Gumby body up entrance, and the dearth of a “sporty” lower roofline means the again seats aren’t too shabby, both, though legroom is a bit of tight.

My greatest grievance concerning the inside includes cupboard space, or an absence thereof. The 12 cubic-foot trunk is greater than sufficient for one or two folks, but it surely lags behind rivals from Mercedes-Benz and BMW, even when it is solely by a bit. The inside’s stowage choices are restricted, too; my tall-but-not-wide thermos has hassle becoming within the small cup holders with out smacking dashboard controls, and the door pockets aren’t extensive sufficient to deal with it, both. The armrest folds as much as reveal a small tray that is good for little greater than a masks and a cellphone, with the wi-fi charger taking over most of that area.

The A4’s cabin is proof that easy interiors do not have to be boring, essentially.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

If the inside is nice, the 2021 Audi A4’s cabin tech makes it nice. All trims come commonplace with a 10.1-inch touchscreen operating the newest single-screen iteration of Audi’s MMI infotainment system, which incorporates wi-fi Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. I had excessive reward for the dual-screen model of this getup when it first debuted, and the pared-back model right here does not scrimp on options, responsiveness or aesthetics. It boots up rapidly, and it takes little or no time to get used to. My Status-trim tester additionally sports activities USB ports for the rear seats, along with the 2 up entrance. Audi’s Digital Cockpit, which replaces the gauge cluster with a 12.3-inch display screen, arrives within the midtrim Premium Plus mannequin, and as at all times, it reduces distraction by providing up navigation, audio and different data just under my regular eye stage.

Audi made certain to load up the A4 with loads of its newest and best security methods, too. Normal package consists of forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking, whereas transferring as much as the Status trim throws most fashionable conveniences into the fray, corresponding to adaptive cruise management, lane-keeping help, a chicken’s-eye digital camera and parking sensors. Whereas it is loads straightforward to maintain this compact sedan between the strains, whether or not on the freeway or in your native CVS parking zone, a bit of further piece of thoughts goes a great distance. Props to Audi for having a powerful decision on its backup digital camera, besides.

Audi’s Google Earth overlay is at all times enjoyable to get misplaced in. Simply, , not when you’re driving.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

The 2021 Audi A4 begins out fairly reasonably priced, with a base value of $40,145, which is not dangerous contemplating all that commonplace tech and now-standard all-wheel drive. Nevertheless, piling on the choices could make the window sticker foolish in a rush. In range-topping Status trim with a couple of further add-ons, my analysis mannequin has lifted its out-the-door value to $53,840, which is a few grand away from the value of a base-model A6. However with two engine choices and three trims, there’s certain to be a center floor that ought to go well with most patrons.

Maintaining with the Joneses isn’t straightforward within the compact-luxury-sedan phase, however the 2021 A4 is doing an incredible job of it. The BMW Three Collection was just lately refreshed, and it strikes a correct steadiness between tender and sporty, however I discover the company inside uninspired and missing the standard and refinement of the A4. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a rattling advantageous luxurious automobile, however its present iteration feels a bit of behind the occasions; nonetheless, that will not be an issue within the close to future as an all-new technology is slated to debut for the 2022 mannequin 12 months. The 2021 Audi A4 is in the precise place on the proper time with the precise gear, leading to a small luxurious sedan that does not skip out on the vital stuff.

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