By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 7.4
Where other premium brands have the prerequisite parts to comprise a midsize luxury car, Audi’s A4 and S4 for 2015 combine wood, leather, chrome and steel in a way that transcends mere transportation. The A4 sedan’s powerful yet fuel-efficient turbocharged engine is an Audi hallmark, while the high-performance S4 meshes a supercharged V6 with the company’s advanced quattro all-wheel drive (AWD) to create a sports sedan experience like no other. With other luxury sedans such as the BMW 3 Series, Cadillac CTS and Infiniti Q50 all vying for the same audience, Audi’s A4 and S4 performance sedan duo face tough competition. Luckily for Audi, there is no substitute for what the quadruple ring emblem represents to some buyers.
If you’re seeking a car that regularly qualifies as one of the best luxury car buys year after year, Audi’s A4 and S4 performance sedans for 2015 won’t disappoint. Excellent performance without a harsh ride complement the A4’s stunning interior, whisper-quite cabin, and user-friendly electronic interfaces.
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Audi’s A4 and S4 for 2015 receive a number of minor improvements, the highlights of which include the addition of last year’s S line style package as standard equipment on all A4s. A 60/40-split rear seat, headlight washers and 3-zone climate control are also now standard on all A4s.
Some luxury cars offer a ride that is too soft without quick reflexes, while others sacrifice ride comfort for more precise cornering (think BMW 3 Series). But with the 2015...
... Audi A4 sedan, a seductive balance has been struck. The A4 delivers a supple and smooth ride without compromising the performance abilities premium sports sedan buyers have come to expect. The A4’s 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is one of our favorites, delivering excellent performance and fuel economy, and teamed to choice of three transmissions: an 8-speed Tiptronic automatic, a 6-speed manual or a Multitronic CVT automatic (front-wheel-drive models only). If you value performance above all other attributes, then the high-performance S4 sports sedan with its 333 horsepower is clearly the optimal choice. With its stiffer suspension and standard quattro all-wheel drive, the overall driving experience rates as one of the best in its class.
Audi has been doing turbocharged 4-cylinder engines longer than just about any of its competitors, and the current 2.0-liter unit in the 2015 A4 is as responsive and smooth as any V6. Fuel economy, though not as good as the BMW 3 Series, is near the top of its class.
Some things just can’t be explained or duplicated. While all luxury cars offer leather seats and wood inlays, the way Audi combines, shapes and molds its interior parts together truly creates a rolling work of art.
Audi’s reputation for beautifully-superb interiors is safe with the 2015 A4 luxury sedan. 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.
The 2015 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 2015 Audi A4 line is available in three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige. Premium leads off with 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, power front seats, leather upholstery, Sirius satellite radio and the Convenience Package, which includes Bluetooth, Homelink, Audi Music Interface connectivity, and the driver information system. For 2015, all A4s now feature S line style package features while Premium Plus models tout unique 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 a Bang & Olufsen sound system.
The A4 Prestige package offers further upgrades to the S line package, 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. The A4 and S4 models also offer a Sport Plus package with high-gloss exterior trim and 19-inch Titanium Rotor design wheels. With the addition of Audi Side Assist, the Navigation package is renamed the Technology package.
For 2015, Audi’s A4 is powered by a strong, efficient 2.0-liter, direct-injected, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that delivers impressive fuel economy while churning out 220 horsepower. Front-wheel-drive (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, beating both the more powerful Mercedes-Benz C350 and the slower C250. 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 (A4)
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), 22/31 mpg (AWD, automatic)
3.0-liter supercharged V6 (S4)
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 2015 Audi A4 sedan starts just under $36,500 for a Premium trim with continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and front-wheel drive. That same driveline in Prestige trim is around $44,000. Move to the 6-speed manual with quattro AWD, and prices range from around $37,500 for the Premium to nearly $45,000 for the Prestige. The 8-speed Tiptronic automatic with quattro ranges from the Premium, at about $38,500, to over $46,000 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 $49,500, and can easily go far beyond $60,000. Be sure to check KBB.com’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, but it's on par with the Cadillac CTS and holds up better than the Lincoln MKZ and Volvo S60.