It’s easy to get seduced by the coupe styling of the Audi A5 and S5 or one of Audi’s sensational SUVs. But you don’t want to overlook the A4 and S4. The A4 was the standout model in the Audi range before the arrival of the A5.
The A4 hasn’t changed much over the years, but that’s because there’s little need to mess with a winning formula. Here’s what makes the 2019 Audi A4/S4 a complete package in its class.
If your idea of great modern car styling tends to have a Cadillac or Lexus badge attached to it, you’re going to find the exterior styling of the Audi A4 and S4 a little dull. Even so, it’s still hard to find any real fault with the way the Audi looks.
The lines of the Audi are clean and sharp, and it’s entirely contemporary. By opting for the S Line appearance package, buyers can add larger wheels and more sculptured bumpers.
It would be entirely unfair to throw labels like “boring” or “mundane” at the exterior of the A4 and S4, but it would be fair to say the styling won’t get pulses racing.
A4 models come with a choice of two differently tuned versions of Audi’s excellent 2.0-liter turbo-four. Front-drive versions get a 188 horsepower version of the engine that develops 236 lb.-ft. of torque. Opt for an all-wheel-drive model, and the engine puts out 248 hp and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. In both cases, the power is sent to the wheels through a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. Front-drive models can reach 60 mph from a standing start in 7.1 seconds, all-wheel-drive quattro variants manage it in just 5.6 seconds.
Of course, as the performance variant, the S4 is an entirely different matter. The S4 comes equipped with a 3.0-liter six-cylinder twin-scroll turbo, which produces 349 hp and 369 lb.-ft. of torque and gets from 0 to 60 mph in a sensational 4.4 seconds. All-wheel-drive is standard, and instead of the dual-clutch transmission, the S4 features an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. The S4 also features a more performance-focused S sport suspension setup and six-piston fixed front brake calipers with S badging.
It’s worth taking a moment to discuss one feature in particular: Audi’s fabulous Virtual Cockpit.
Audi’s Virtual Cockpit is a 12.3-inch LCD fully digital instrument cluster with two visual modes that replaces the traditional analog cluster. It’s not an entirely unique feature; many other manufacturers have something similar. However, the Audi system is as good as these systems get at the moment. And if you test drive an A4 with Virtual Cockpit, you won’t want one without it.
The good news is that unless you go for the entry-level Premium model, Virtual Cockpit is standard equipment.
Features and Equipment
Although you’ll lose the Virtual Cockpit if you choose the Audi A4 Premium, you won’t miss out on much else. Standard kit includes 17-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a 7.0-inch driver information display, a 7.0-inch infotainment system that’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible, two USB charge ports, Bluetooth connectivity, automatic emergency braking, and even a sunroof.
Stepping up to an A4 or S4 Premium Plus does add a hefty sum to the asking price. But it also adds plenty of cool features. Premium Plus models add larger 18-inch alloys, LED headlights, two extra USB ports, wireless smartphone charger, navigation, a larger 8.3-inch infotainment screen, keyless ignition, rear automatic emergency braking, and that all-important Virtual Cockpit.
We’ve already touched on the fact that all versions of the A4 come standard with leather upholstery. That epitomizes the comfort and quality of the Audi’s interior at all trim levels. The quality and style of the interior are beyond reproach, and all the seats are very comfortable.
For a compact, there’s even a surprisingly generous amount of room in the rear seats. There’s nothing gimmicky or funky about the A4 and S4 interiors. In terms of quality though, they’re pretty much faultless.
Like most aspects of the 2019 Audi A4 and S4, the safety ratings are nearly faultless. Federal testers at the NHTSA give the A4 a full five-star rating for overall safety. The independent tester at the IIHS awarded the Audi Top Safety Pick status.
Although to get some of the latest active safety features means springing for higher trim levels, every version of the A4 and S4 come with an extensive list of safety equipment. And every model gets standard automatic emergency braking.
- Crisp, clean, modern styling
- Tons of tech
- Impressive turbo-four engine
- Good standard safety features
- AWD hits fuel economy hard
- Can get expensive at higher trims
- Rotary infotainment knob not exactly intuitive
The Last Word
It’s impossible to get away from what a sensible choice the A4 is. But it’s a choice you certainly won’t regret. And if you want a little excitement, there’s always the S4 with that sensational 3.0-liter twin-scroll turbo-six under the hood.