By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 7.5
For 2014, the Audi A4 and S4 line continues among the leaders of entry-luxury sports sedans. Inside and out, it's beautifully styled and built with exquisite attention to the details, and offers generous space efficiency with an extraordinarily high level of interior refinement. The A4 engines are powerful, comfort is supreme, performance is impressive, and efficiency is noteworthy – the entire package is terrific. The S4, with its supercharged V6 and quattro all-wheel-drive (AWD) setup, resides in the nation of awesome. In a tough class with the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Cadillac CTS and Infiniti G37 (renamed the Q50 for 2014), among others, the beautiful and beautifully-detailed A4 remains a formidable and highly-attractive choice.
Here's a list of why: Want a gorgeous ride with a great driving experience, impeccable luxury, cradling comfort, generous interior space, exquisite refinement, superb driving manners, quick performance, welcome efficiency, and a first-class image? Try Audi's A4 sedan line-up.
It's common in this class that the price can quickly escalate when the options start adding to the mix. If, like many of us, you have to watch the dollars and cents and simply need or want your funds to go further, the A4 line is not for you.
KBB Expert Ratings
For 2014 the Audi A4 line has moderate changes. The turbocharged 4-cylinder engine of the A4 is up to 220 horsepower, and the rest of the changes are related to the content of some options packages, trim details, new-design wheels and the like.
Driving Impressions If your idea of a great drive emphasizes responsive precision over pillowy comfort, as does ours, Audi's A4 is for you. Fitting in somewhere between the somewhat softer Mercedes C-Class...... and the somewhat firmer feel of a BMW 3 Series, the A4 can be "just right" for many drivers. The 4-cylinder turbocharged engine – always one of our favorites – is even more so with a bump up to 220 horsepower for 2014. As for the powertrain choices behind the four, the CVT (continuously-variable automatic transmission) of the front-drive version is acceptable, but we much prefer either the 6-speed manual or the 8-speed Tiptronic automatic that are fitted to the quattro. If those aren't quite enough, the S4 brings 333 horsepower from its supercharged V6 and will both light up the road and light up your driving life. In all cases, the overall driving experience is nothing short of superb, with the blend of performance, handling, braking and ride comfort striking a balance that we feel is right on the money.
In a class dominated by 6-cylinder engines, the Audi A4 sedan gives chase with a smooth, strong and responsive turbocharged 4-cylinder that also delivers commendable fuel economy. And, for 2014, it gets more horsepower. What's not to like?
It doesn't show up on the list of standard or optional features, but the attention to detail on all Audi products is one of our continuing favorite features of these cars. The A4 is no exception, and simply being in it is a delight to the eyes.
Audi's reputation for beautifully-superb interiors is safe with the 2014 A4. Everything about it is impeccably conceived and finished, from design, layout and materials to assembly. The resulting space is upscale, relaxing, purposeful and even business-like. A handsome 4-spoke steering wheel is standard and a sporty 3-spoke design is optional. Interior trim includes aluminum or wood inlays and attractive uses of lighting, including LED accent lights that illuminate the center console. Leather seating is standard, with available Alcantara inserts, and there are optional sport seats with side bolsters that really hold the occupants in place during more spirited driving.Exterior
The 2014 Audi A4's signature look is certainly familiar, and it remains exceptionally handsome and refined. There is no mistaking it's an Audi, with the clean and elegantly-detailed exterior that makes it one of the best-looking sedans on the road. There are numerous option packages that include different wheel treatments to individualize the appearance, and the high-end and super-performance S4 has a more aggressive look that emphasizes its purposeful mission.
The 2013 Audi A4 line is available in three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige. Premium leads off with 17-inch alloy wheels, power front seats, leather upholstery, Sirius satellite radio and, for 2014, the Convenience Package, which includes Bluetooth, Homelink, Audi Music Interface connectivity, and the driver information system. For 2014, Premium Plus and Prestige models feature S line exteriors with new 18-inch, 10-spoke wheels for a sportier appearance. Keyless unlock/lock and starting is part of the Premium Plus, and Audi drive select is standard on the S4. The Prestige trim also includes navigation and an impressive Bang & Olufsen stereo system.
The A4 Prestige package offers the further option of the S line group, which includes sport suspension, 19-inch wheels, different front and rear fascias, side skirts, unique doorsills and badging. A4 Prestige models also offer a Driver Assist package, consisting of adaptive cruise control (automatically maintains a distance from a vehicle in front) and adjustment of control dynamics, including steering effort, throttle response and transmission-shift characteristics. New for 2014, A4 and S4 models offer a Black Optic package with high-gloss exterior trim and 19-inch Titanium Rotor design wheels.
The Audi A4 is powered by a strong, efficient 2.0-liter, direct-injected, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that delivers impressive fuel economy and, for 2014, has been bumped to 220 horsepower. FWD versions of the A4 feature a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), while those with Audi's quattro AWD system offer the choice of a 6-speed manual or the 8-speed Tiptronic automatic. Regardless of drivetrain, the A4 continues to be one of the most fuel-efficient luxury-branded sedans on the market. The sportier S4, meanwhile, boasts a powerful 3.0-liter supercharged, direct-injection V6 engine that offers V8 performance and still-impressive fuel economy.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
220 horsepower @ 4,450-6,000 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-4,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/32 mpg (FWD, CVT automatic), 22/32 mpg (AWD, manual), 20/29 mpg (AWD, automatic)
3.0-liter supercharged V6
333 horsepower @ 5,500-7,000 rpm
325 lb-ft of torque 2,900-3,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/28 mpg (automatic), 17/26 mpg (manual)
Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2014 Audi A4 starts just under $34,000 for a Premium trim with CVT and front drive. That same driveline in Prestige trim is around $43,000. Move to the 6-speed manual with quattro AWD and prices range from around $35,000 for the Premium to about $44,000 for the Prestige. The 8-speed Tiptronic automatic with quattro ranges from the Premium, at about $36,000, to over $45,000 for the Prestige. Load on the two packages available for Prestige (S line and Driver Assist) and your A4 will be well over $50,000. The hard-charging S4 starts around $48,500 and can easily go far beyond $60,000. Be sure to check Kelley Blue Book's Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying for the A4 in your area. In terms of resale value, the Audi A4 doesn't do as well as the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class or Lexus IS.