Audi A4 3.2 Quattro S-line – ‘Teutonically Tight’

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Finally! A formidable adversary to the BMW 3-Series. I’d call it an adversary, others may call it an antidote or a nice alternative. But what ever you call it, this Audi A4 was pretty impressive. When I think of Audi, I think of Bavaria, when I think of Bavaria I think of BMW. Some may enjoy the current generation 3-Series but I think BMW may have lost their aficionado edge. Some may even say they’ve gone off the reservation. I think the real BMW cowboys left the marque just as Bangle’s design caught on and these enthusiasts are looking for a place to hang their hat. Well, my guess is they’ll find Audi a brand that may meet their demands.
Audi is poised to make waves over the next few years. Some of those waves are going to take prospective new car owners away from BMW and into new Audi’s like this A4 3.2 Quattro.


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Our German friends in Ingolstadt know how to engineer a car. They understand that you can insulate occupants while simultaneously linking the driver with the road through vehicle inputs. The Audi A4 3.2 Quattro does exactly that. It communicates to its driver through the steering wheel, pedals, and taut suspension. With good road manners there is an overall feeling of control and understanding. You may need an Audi RS4 to be ‘one with the road’ but at least with this A4 3.2 Quattro there was a relationship with the road (…and you get to keep the extra 30K you’d pay for the RS).
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With the normally aspirated 3.2 and Quattro this A4 sedan seems to be where aspirational luxury gets a bit of a performance edge. You almost forget about the two extra doors behind you. In the A4 department the 3.2 Quattro S-Line positions itself below the S4 (and in my opinion) above the A4 2.0 Turbo. The A4 has tight lines, ‘sport tuned’ suspension and a youthful demeanor. At its heart the 3.2 Liter, six cylinder cranks out 255 horsepower with its 12.5 to 1 compression ratio, which might help explain its appetite for premium fuel (91 Octane or higher (17 city / 27 hwy)). But as you pull out onto the open road and feel the 3.2 performing like a tightly wound Swiss watch, you soon forget about those extra few dollars you spent at the pump.
Flexible and Enthusiastic Acceleration
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Acceleration and shifts are smooth, even though the ride might be a little bumpy. As always Audi’s interior is best in class; clean, attractive and functional. The A4 is Audi’s answer to BMWs 3-Series but I think the A4 3.2 with Quattro could also compete with Lexus’ IS 350 and Subaru’s 2008MY Legacy 3.0R. All come with normally aspirated six cylinders, four doors (Barring the M3 and 3-Series coupe/convertible) and Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel-drive answers Audi’s Quattro. The A4 performs as well and in my opinion looks even better while doing it. Fit and finish are exceptional, ergonomics are very German, while performance and handling instill confidence and allow a driver to carve up his or her choice of roadway.
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Room For Improvement
Some gripes might be the somewhat sloppy/loose shift gates (really tight on the RS4), soft clutch and price tag ($46,800 as tested). A few might find the interior room a bit tight but for this segment I think it is a pretty good size (better than a Lexus IS). Another issue that came up was the perception that the rims were coated in brake dust and not painted anthracite grey (which they really are). We had people offering to clean our rims for no reason other than they looked dirty. Personally, I thought the armrest should be able to slide forward or back, adapting to the length of one’s shifting arm or when utilizing the parking brake (but that’s just me). We should also point out the CD player being stuffed into the glove compartment. Not only was it inconvenient, it took up too much space! (No room for an in-dash 6-disc CD changer?)
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Performance Oriented with Hints of Practicality
A few of the positive take-aways were great handling (provided in part by the Quattro all-wheel-drive), smooth (fairly powerful) V6, very nicely appointed interior and solid construction (doors and trunk felt solid as they gave off a ‘thunk’ when they closed). The cavernous trunk gave ample space for such a small sedan (it also had tie downs!) and the rear seats fold down to accommodate larger/longer items.
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The interior in our A4 came with Audi’s MMI (Multi-Media Interface) which is much better than Mercedes Benz’ COMAND, or BMW’s iDrive systems. Audi’s MMI is very intuitive. Most people can navigate through the interface with out reading a phone book size manual but there may be room for improvement.
Bottom Line
I think the Audi A4 3.2 Quattro S-Line is where form really meets function with finesse. Audi has built a great car that would stack up very well next to the BMW 3-Series, Lexus IS 250, Subaru Legacy 3.0R, or Acura TSX, now if we could just get them to lower the price…

This article has 1 comment

  1. David Barrett 01/26/2007, 10:24 am:

    Keagan has hit an important nerve! As a long-time Bimmer owner and driver, I have always been very loyal and confident in “the ultimate driving machine.” However, having driven this new Audi, I can confidently say, “this is a BMW-butt kicker” in a number of ways.
    First of all, this car is smooth – acceleration, looks, clutch, dash, seats – it’s all very smooth. That makes it a joy to drive in traffic, on ordinary roads and on the freeway. And then, when the twisty bits show up, drop a gear and put your foot down. Whoosh. Smooth, powerful acceleration.
    I can’t promise not to purchase a BMW again in the future and the new 3-Series is a GREAT driver’s car. But, this Audi A4 S-Line is a terrific value and a fantastic driver’s car. I want one.

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