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The Audi A4 is a premium compact sedan with a brilliant, venerable 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine and a smooth ride. Its classy interior comes standard with leather upholstery, automatic climate control, and other premium features. Front-wheel drive with a CVT transmission is standard, while quattro all-wheel-drive with a Tiptronic 8-speed automatic transmission is available.
Stepping up a performance notch, the Audi S4 holds a supercharged V6 engine.
Last redesigned for 2009, Audi A4 and S4 were freshened on the outside and refined on the inside for 2013, adding electric power steering. They are showing their age following the introduction of new models from BMW, Cadillac, Buick and Hyundai. The A4 Avant wagon was discontinued, replaced by an all-new Audi allroad model for 2013.
For 2014, Audi A4 and S4 gain enhancements and content. The 2014 Audi A4 gets more power: Horsepower from the 2.0-liter engine has been raised from 211 to 220 hp. A Convenience package, now standard on the 2014 A4, includes the Audi music interface, HomeLink, Bluetooth connectivity, and a driver information system.
An S line exterior becomes standard on 2014 Audi A4 Premium Plus and Prestige models, featuring modified front/rear bumper and side skirts, S line door sills, S line fender badging, and new 18-inch 10-spoke RS-design wheels. A new S line Style package is available for A4 Premium models, including 10-spoke 18-inch wheels, xenon-plus front lighting, LED taillights, high-gloss aluminum exterior window trim, S line bumpers, side sill blades, and stainless-steel door sills with S line badging.
New for 2014 is a Black Optic package. Audi's MMI navigation is available on A4 Premium models. Premium Plus models gain Audi's advanced key as standard.
Audi drive select is newly standard on the S4, and included in an available A4 Sport package. Audi side assist, now a standalone option for A4/S4 Premium Plus models, monitors blind-spot areas as well as rapidly-approaching vehicles, up to 150 feet to the rear of the car. For 2014, standard 18-inch S4 wheels have a 5-parallel-spoke Star design, while Premium Plus versions of the A4 and S4 get new 18-inch 10-spoke wheels, with an exclusive RS design.
2014 Audi A4 competitors include the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Lexus IS, Infiniti G, Cadillac ATS, Buick Regal, and Hyundai Sonata. The A4 does well against its competition in the areas of fuel economy and passenger room, and is superior in all-weather capability. Audi S4 occupies a niche, as many of its competitors are either dated or more expensive.
The styling of the A4 is clean but not dynamic. The grille is more angled in the upper corners, complemented by dynamic hood lines, bumpers with angular air inlets, and sleek headlamps with LED daytime running lights. Optional lighting includes halogen cornering lamps as part of the adaptive system, and LED taillights.
The cabin features a lot of controls, all easy to reach. Seats are excellent, with Nappa leather standard. Dashboard trim includes more chrome than in earlier A4s, with inlays in aluminum, walnut, ash, or oak. It's unlikely you'll find a more appealing interior at the A4's base price.
The rear seat offers 35.2 inches of legroom, which is comparable to the A4's top competitor: the BMW 3 Series. Trunk space is 12.4 cubic feet, about the same as the 3 Series.
On the road, smooth or bumpy, the A4 is solid, firm and stable. Easy and enjoyable to drive, it rides like a larger car.
The A4 quattro is very adept in snow and rain, at the top of its class of models with all-wheel drive, where it performs favorably against the BMW 328iX, Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic, and Lexus IS 250 AWD. Audi has specialized in all-wheel drive longer than those rivals and has a winning rallying heritage, racing over unpaved roads. With front-wheel drive rather than quattro, the A4's cornering is not as precise as a rear-wheel-drive BMW 3 Series. We recommend quattro.
Audi's 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is silky smooth and the torque range is exceptionally broad, so there's responsive acceleration at any time. All 2014 Audi A4s come with this engine.
The Tiptronic 8-speed automatic is a brilliant transmission, fast-shifting and obedient, with rev-matching downshifting. Opting for the 6-speed manual gearbox, however, turns an A4 quattro into a sporty sedan. Shifting is precise and pleasurable, the clutch is easy, and the redline is way up there at about 6500 rpm. We loved it.
The high-performance Audi S4 features a 333-horsepower supercharged V6, quattro all-wheel drive, and sport suspension. S4 looks different than A4, with its own grille, along with a front splitter, rear diffuser, and unique exhaust. It's got a special interior, including well-bolstered seats in Alcantara leather with contrast stitching. Interior options include a flat-bottomed three-spoke steering wheel, high-gloss piano black trim with stainless steel mesh inlays, and Nappa leather.