First Drive Review

Our 2017 Audi A4 quattro tester arrived with no less than 21 driver-assistance systems including lane departure assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go traffic assist, and Audi Pre Sense Plus, which was a little unnerving at times. I’ll explain……..

Audi pre sense plus is a safety system that attempts to reduce the number of accidents, or at least reduce their severity if they do occur. The pre sense system uses a video camera near the interior mirror and radar sensors on the front and rear of the vehicle to monitor the road. Under extreme situations the system prepares the car for an accident by applying tension to the front seat belts and closing the sunroof and windows.

When the pre sense front system detects a potential accident the Audi braking guard warns the driver and increases braking force if necessary. The pre sense rear system monitors the space behind the vehicle, and if it detects that a collision is imminent it will move the seats into the position safest for a rear-end collision and inflate the pneumatic seat side sections, if equipped. The Audi pre sense plus system is included when the car is equipped with Audi adaptive cruise control with stop & go function and Audi side assist. Pre sense plus is triggered when a collision is unavoidable and activates the Audi braking guard in order to reduce the impact as much as possible.

Ok so now we understand how it works how does it behave in the real world….pretty good for the most part except for when I crossed over 2 lanes and the first lane I moved into had a slower moving car in it so for a second the car felt I was too close and applied the brakes, which is not what I needed. I applied the gas and moved into the next lane to my right and all was good. The braking that the car applied was not necessary and it was a surprise when it happened. That said, the system works if you aren’t paying attention for that split second when the car in front stops suddenly.

Looks wise the visual changes are subtle but this isn’t a complaint as we think it looks pretty handsome from all angles. We especially liked the color of our test car, Audi calls it Manhattan Gray Metallic, we call it very nice.

Engine and Transmission

The all new Audi A4 is built on the MQB platform which is leaner and lighter than the outgoing model..this one weighs in at 3,500 lb. The new A4 is still powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four, with standard front-wheel drive or optional Quattro all-wheel drive. The new engine is rated at 32 hp more than before, with a total of 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque available at a low 1,600 rpm. With that power it jumps ahead of the turbo 4 that BMW offers and all of the Audi says the A4 can hit 60 mph in 5.7 seconds from a stop, but we know Audi is typically conservative with it’s performance data. We strapped on the VBox and launched from standstill in 5.27 seconds. The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic (S-tronic) continues and replaces CVT, which was smooth but uninvolving. As usual Audi offers 3 Drive Select modes, Dynamic (our fave), Auto and Comfort.

How Does It Go?

With a new suspension set up Audi has managed to virtually eliminate any understeer and the car carves through the canyons with ease. The redesign definitely brings handling improvements over the old A4’s, which suffered body roll and lean as well as a slightly wooded ride quality. Our test car was fitted with the optional adaptive suspension, which controls the car well and soaks up any rough pavement you might encounter.

We took the A4 up into the mountains East of San Diego and found the car not lacking in power. Where we could, it was easy to pass slower traffic when broken lines presented themselves. Steering is much improved and we left it in Dynamic mode with no problem. The older system on previous Audis seemed vague when in Dynamic Mode so we always set the steering to Comfort. The only time the steering feels weird is when you activate Lane Assist. Once turned on the car will keep to its lane by sensing the white lines. Don’t let go of the steering wheel as I did on a couple of occasions, as it gets angry, turns it off and tells you to put your hands back on the wheel. Technically it could self drive as lane assist takes care of the steering and the Active Cruise & Pre-Sense stops you from hitting the car in front. We aren’t quite there yet………………….


Our car was fitted with the excellent sport seats with great side bolsters and leg support. They have 8-way power adjustments and leather upholstery are standard. No vinyl here Mercedes, although M-BTex will last longer than the car. Back seats are comfortable and loads of trunk space is available, including an armrest poke through for you skiis. We found it happily swallowed our broken weed wacker, wrapped in a large plastic bag, of course.
The interior feels quality throughout, soft feel plastics abound and its a pretty nice place to be if you are stuck in traffic. Prices start at $39,400, add a dash of Prestige and other goodies and that climbs to $54,275.


There’s no shortage of technology in the Audi, including the new Virtual Cockpit that we first saw in the TT. Unlike that car, the passenger gets to see an additional tablet-like display for Entertainment etc. The navigation map has Google Earth satellite images that are powered by a 4G LTE Internet connection, free for the first 6 six-months. Configuration is moderately easier now that Audi has reconfigured the control know to work in the same direction that a human brain would work. The Prestige also gets you the Bang and Olufsen 3D surround sound system and the top view camera sytsem which never ceases to amaze me. It seems like a drone is following the car around.


We liked the 2017 Audi A4 quattro more much more than expected, because we had liked the A3 so much. But now with the increase in power and all the nerdy tech they are back as a leader in this entry level luxury sector.

2017 Audi A4 2.0T quattro numbers

BASE PRICE $39,400
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE 2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4
POWER 252 hp @ 5,600 rpm
TORQUE 273 lb-ft @ 1,600-4,500 rpm
TRANSMISSION 7-speed twin-clutch automatic
CURB WEIGHT 3,500 lb
0-60 MPH 5.27 secs
30-70 MPH 4.81 secs
50-70 MPH 2.82 secs