The Audi A4, the German premium automaker's entry-level sedan and wagon, was re-designed in 2005. As such, it basically carries over intact for 2006. However, some new features are available, including a six-speed manual transmission on sedans and wagons equipped with Quattro, Audi's all-wheel drive system. Also added to the A4 lineup is a model with a V-6 engine and FrontTrak front-wheel-drive.
The A4 is Audi's entry-level sedan and wagon that's also available in a high-performance S4 version. An even more powerful RS4 model arrives in mid-2006. The term entry-level, however, doesn't mean bare. The A4 and S4 are high-content vehicles that offer advanced technologies and pleasing designs on a mid-sized vehicle platform. As with other Audi models, the A4 can be equipped with Quattro, Audi's proprietary and well regarded all-wheel drive system.
The A4 offers two engine choices, a 200-hp, 2.0-L turbocharged four-cylinder or a 255-hp 3.2L V-6. Either can be configured with FrontTrak or Quattro all-wheel-drive systems. The V-6 provides manual or automatic shifting options, while the four-cylinder comes with a choice of six-speed manual, six-speed Tiptronic automatic, or continuously variable automatic transmissions (CVT).
The A4 is known for its dynamic capabilities, but the S4 takes this concept to a whole new level. This high-performance model, again available as a sedan or wagon (which Audi calls an "avant"), is propelled by a 340-hp 4.2L V-8 engine that exhales through a specially tuned exhaust system. Power flows through a six-speed manual or Tiptronic automatic transmission (that also allows the driver to shift manually without a clutch) to Audi's Quattro all-wheel driveline.
In addition to their sporty dynamics, which for the 2006 model year can be enhanced through a new S-line options package, the A4 and S4 offer interior design and amenities that earned "Interior of the Year" honors from Ward's, an auto industry trade magazine. (Audi interiors are commonly benchmarked by other automakers.) The mid-size Audis also became the first in their segment to receive a "Double Best Pick" designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for occupant protection. Like all Audis, the A4 and S4 come with a four-year/50,000-mile no-charge scheduled maintenance service plan.
The Audi A4 competes in the Compact Premium segment in the U.S. light-vehicle market. Vehicles in this segment combine luxury features with the sort of dynamic capabilities found in sporty compact cars to score big points with those who may be entering the luxury car class for the first time. While accounting for less than 5 percent of U.S. light-vehicle sales, this segment includes a large number of nameplates and the competition is fierce.
According to the J.D. Power and Associates Sales Report,SM the BMW 3 Series led this category in calendar year 2005 with 106,950 units sold. Other top sellers include the Acura TL (78,218 units sold), Infiniti G35 (68,728 units sold), and Cadillac CTS (61,512 units sold). Rounding out the field were the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4 (47,168 units sold), Acura TSX, Volvo S60, Saab 9-3, Lexus IS, Jaguar X-Type, Audi A3, and Lincoln's Zephyr.
|1.8T (Multitronic)||continuously variable automatic||$37,340||170-hp / 1.8L 4-cyl||23/30|
|3.0 (A5)||5 speed automatic||$45,490||220-hp / 3.0L 6-cyl||18/25|