"Man, this is like the perfect split between a Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the BMW 3 Series." That's the thought that kept running through my mind over a long weekend and miles and miles of seat time in the 2017 Audi A4. Having been familiar with Audi's entry-level compact luxury sedan, this wasn't necessarily a revelation that it balances Mercedes comfort and BMW dynamics, but it sure was assuring. Even more so considering this is an all-new A4, fully revamped for 2017 and marking its ninth generation.

In our full review of the 2017 Audi A4, we gushed over this German sedan's available adaptive cruise control, which in addition to pacing the vehicle in front is so smart that it links with GPS to anticipate turns. It's just one of the new A4's many innovations and is great news for drivers regularly stuck in commuter purgatory or those who have long and lonely treks. The A4 also deserves kudos as an enthusiast's car, for those who relish piloting vs. being piloted.

Split personality

The A4 has long nailed the middle ground between comfortable cruising and backroad romping, and the latest model further perfects that nature. Like the A4 as a whole, this balance is the result of several quality ingredients.

The revised, more powerful turbocharged engine is a wonder. Putting out 252 horsepower and 273 units of twist, this potent 2.0-liter 4-cylinder never felt out of breath. On the contrary, no matter how much I flogged it, I'd often glance at the speedometer in the all-digital virtual cockpit and thought, "uh oh." Power is transmitted through a new 7-speed dual-clutch transmission that except for a couple of instances smoothly ticked up and down gears. And then there's Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system, a feature we recommend even if you don't live in cold weather. That's because it provides excellent traction no matter the road or condition, and even makes this Audi sedan faster off the line. A4 Quattro models can hightail it from 0-60 mph in 5.7 seconds, nearly half a second faster than front-drive version.

While the A4 has a drive select system that lets you switch between comfort, dynamic and individual settings that tweak the responsiveness of the steering, engine, transmission and optional adaptive suspension, I usually left this luxury sport sedan in the "auto" mode. The car was smart enough to suit itself for the road at hand, and even seemed to sense my driving style.

On the bothersome side was the engine start/stop system that cuts power at idle. Like so many other new vehicles, this fuel-saving technology is becoming the norm. But the curmudgeon in me still finds an engine shutting off at a stoplight unnerving and restarts abrupt. I also get irked about having to defeat the system upon starting the car to get around this.

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Competitive pricing

As equipped, this 2017 A4 Quattro tallied $47,900 -- over $9,000 beyond the A4's base price. The bulk of that extra cost came from two packages, the Premium Plus ($3,800) that adds a high-end audio system, 18-inch wheels, LED headlights and heated front seats; and the Technology Package ($3,250) that ladles on navigation, the slick virtual cockpit, and active safety features.

These features come on top of what's already a well-equipped vehicle, which boasts standard amenities like leather interior, tri-zone climate control and HomeLink garage opener. Of the options, one that I especially appreciate is the Bang & Olufsen sound system. It is an absolute auditory delight, and makes even ripped music files on a thumb drive sound spectacular. Like the sum of the new A4 itself, it is just one more part that creates a greater whole.


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