The 2013 Audi A4 isn’t a totally new car, but there are more than enough changes to make it look and feel fresh. Last year’s model was impressive and changes to the 2013 only take those improvements a step further.
|1. Starting MSRP $32,500
2. 211 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque
3. 22/30/25 MPG City/Highway/Combined
4. 2013 model interior gets piano black interior with stainless steel mesh inlays
Lending a more aggressive look, Audi redesigned the hood and bumper, while rectangular fog lights look sleek in the lower front fascia. Following the industry trend, Audi slapped some LEDs on for the daytime running lights and taillights. A new single-frame grille also helps the car stand out.
Inside the cabin, the 2013 model gets a welcome upgrade over the previous model, which was starting to look outdated. In addition to available wood inserts, Audi developed a modern-looking woven aluminum trim. It dresses up the dash with just a bit of brightness necessary to set off the dark leather.
Optional sport seats are finished in supple Nappa leather, and while nicely bolstered, are still wide enough to be all day comfortable without cramping the driver or passenger. Finally, the thick leather wrapped three-spoke steering wheel feels both sporty and substantial.
Powering the 2013 is the same 2.0-liter turbocharged TFSI four-cylinder engine with direct fuel injection as last year. It’s rated at 211 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque at only 1500 rpm.
On paper that might seem weak, but having all that torque available from just off idle makes the A4 feel anything but underpowered. Audi claims 0-60 in 6.3 seconds (or 6.7 for the CVT), which is about right for cars in this class. Managing that power out of a four cylinder means premium gas is a must, but at least fuel mileage is agreeable at 24 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.
While zipping through twisty roads, the A4 feels athletic with excellent drive-by-wire throttle response for leaving a stop light, powering out of a tight corner, or scooting past slower cars.
Power delivery is almost seamless and it’s tough to talk about turbo lag, which Audi managed to mask beautifully. It can’t all be good, and the engine does have at least one obvious downfall: the exhaust note. It doesn’t make enough of one, and it’s hard not to feel disappointed with how timid the car’s voice is. Piping in fake engine noise isn’t cool, but neither is having such a wimpy sounding set of pipes.
An eight-speed automatic picks gears properly, but the paddle shifters are deeply pleasing when you have the opportunity to drive aggressively. Each up or downshift happens quickly and smoothly enough that the driver can always stay in the right gear to find the powerband - especially while hustling up long hills.
Audi’s five-link front suspension and independent rear suspension soak up bumps and bad pavement with composure to help the chassis feel solid. Annoying vibrations and judders are effectively muted and cornering carries minimum body lean.
Much like the gas pedal, the electromechanical steering system feels quick and responsive and lighter than the old hydraulic assist system. Its efficiency also adds to the gas mileage figures. The on-center feel is excellent, and steering effort is light while still offering solid feedback.
The 19-inch alloys that come with the Sport Package not only fill the wheel wells for pleasing aesthetics, but inspire cornering confidence when fitted with performance tires. Pick a line and the car will hold it. With all that performance composure, it wouldn’t be surprising to find the car a touch harsh at slower speeds, but it isn’t. Trundling down the interstate at posted speed limits, the ride feels smooth and luxurious.
The A4 is a right sized sport sedan — not too big, and not too small. Rear passengers have good head and shoulder room as long as there are only two adults in the back seat. Legroom is adequate for most adults, but if you have a teenager on the basketball team, he will be more comfortable up front. Trunk space is a tidy but usable 12.4 cubic feet and the 60/40 rear seatback folds down to increase cargo space to a generous 34 cubic feet.
The A4 comes in three trim levels – Premium, starting at $32,500, Premium Plus, starting at $36,700 and Prestige, starting at $42,250. The Premium has some nice amenities including rain sensing wipers, heated windshield washer nozzles, sunroof, 8-way power seats, automatic headlights, leather upholstery, and even a chilled glove box. The Premium Plus adds the Xenon headlights, and auto dimming and heated exterior mirrors, three-zone climate control, heated front memory seats, and music interface to not only play your MP3 music, but control it from the radio controls on the center stack or steering wheel. The Prestige package adds adaptive headlights that pivot 15 degrees, Audi MMI navigation, Audi Advanced Key for keyless access and push-button ignition, a 14 speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, and Side Assist blind spot warning system.
If you are an electronics geek, Audi’s MMI system will probably tickle your fancy. It has Google Earth Maps, Google Points of Interest, Bluetooth streaming, two SD Card slots, and transforms the car into a mobile WiFi hotspot. The Nav system is voice controlled, and has Parking System Plus with back-up camera. It also has Audi Connect with online services. Adaptive Cruise Control is now also available.
The 2013 A4 is an excellent luxury sport sedan. Its well-tuned chassis and suspension make it fun to drive with enough power to entertain. New cabin upgrades mean the A4 is in line with the competition, offering an inviting environment to spend long hours behind the wheel as well.
Still, it’s not nearly as powerful as BMW’s entry-level 328i, which uses a twin-turbo four-cylinder to offer 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Then again, the base-price A4 also undercuts the Bimmer’s starting price by $4,000, or about enough to justify buying the Premium Plus package for about the same money.