Friday, March 25, 2011

Simply said, Audi A4 is a fine luxury ride

Sacramento, California – The luxury sedan need not be complicated, or pricey.

That’s why I had such a pleasant weeklong experience in the 2011 Audi A4 2.0 TFSI quattro Tiptronic.

Yeah, I liked the car quicker than I could say the name.

Like other Audi offerings, this one has the sculpted, gaping mouth of a grille that seems poised to devour everything in its path. A smooth aerodynamic curve over the top ends with an abrupt, but not unattractive, slope at the back end.

I had fun triggering the trunk from the key fob. The trunk instantly flips all the way open, instead of slowly yawning or letting you do the lifting. A small thing, but nice.

The tester had a starting price of $34,140, a fine bargain with a pretty extensive standard features list. Alas, my car was dressed up with a premium navigation system, a blast-off-the-map sound system and fancy 18-inch all-season tires. Those extras took the bottom line to $42,745. Frankly, I could have lived happily with just the nav system.

I never did figure out how to program mixed bands of radio stations into the digital system, which was a minor annoyance and a primary result of me periodically being a technology klutz. Other than that, interior controls were nicely spaced and easy to use.

The interior was supremely quiet and comfortable, and the leather seats had plenty of options for comfort and firmness. A standard glass sunroof welcomed the rays, or in my case, it offered a close-up view of the relentless rainstorms that have been pelting California of late. I’m sure it’s a much sunnier view in, say, July.

On-road performance was excellent. The A4 hugged the road even when I challenged the tires to squeal on high-speed corners and making aggressive starts. The turbo 4 engine responded instantly. No turbo lag here.

The eight-speed Tiptronic transmission operated with seamless precision. I have to wonder how high the curve is going to go. Can 10 speeds be far behind? For now, eight is enough.

Backseat space is tight when two normal adults have their front seats adjusted for comfort.

Good news on the gas front: Fuel mileage ratings are 21 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. That’s not shabby for a turbo-boosted power plant.

Bad news: It takes premium, generally going for the price of caviar right now.

The car also has a max five-star rollover safety rating.

All in all, this A4 is an uncomplicated gem.

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