One of the metrics that we commonly use to measure the bona fides of a sports car is a deep, throaty exhaust note. If not that, then the high-pitched scream coming from a well tuned turbocharged engine. What no one expects is near pin-drop silence, but that is exactly what the 2017 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro delivers. Barely topping 60 decibels at 115 km/h, the new A4 Quattro is nearly as quiet as a Rolls-Royce Phantom. With noise deprivation like that, you are more likely to hear the speeding tickets pile up than your A4.
Under The Bonnet
The exterior of the new A4 is a mild refresh of the last model year, but under the clamshell bonnet, owners and hopeful buyers will find an improved powerplant. Held over is the use of an iron block I4, but the head and turbocharger have been upgraded. The set-up has boosted power to 252 bhp at 6000 rpm and 370 N-m of torque at 1600 rpm. That is a jump of 32 bhp and 21 N-m over the previous model year. An additional bonus is that the lag from the turbo is nearly non-existent; giving drivers a strong pull from idle to redline.
Fortunately, from a driving enthusiasts point of view, a six-speed manual gearbox will be available as an option, but the standard gearbox is a seven-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox replacing the eight-speed previously used. Audi representatives will tell you about the extensive work that went into providing the dual-clutch with a torque-converter feel when accelerating from a standstill. While the reps make their claim, drivers will tell you that the gearbox still tends to try to shift to the highest gear possible to boost mileage, somewhat disappointing many.
If you would like to have a little bit of fun with the dual-clutch, select sport mode and place the stability control into sport mode. With that done, hold the brake and accelerator to the bottom of the footbox simultaneously. The engine will rev to 3000, quickly drop the brake. The Quattro system will ensure a spin-free launch and the 1665 kg A4 will hit 100 km/h in just 5.2 seconds. That is 0.4 seconds quicker than last year’s model and the same as the newest BMW 328i. Keep feeding the A4 petrol and it will finish the quarter mile in 13.9 seconds at 161 km/h. In case you are interested, the A4 is able to achieve 11.47 km/l combined. Well, it will if you do not continually rev to 3000 before take-off.
What Keeps It On The Road
The vast majority of the 2017 A4 Quattro’s weight lies over the front tyres. That is due to the combination of the four-wheel drive system and having an engine that is perched slightly ahead of the front axle. The A4’s Quattro system is designed to start out placing 40 percent of the torque at the disposal of the front wheels and the rest in the rear; however, the ratio is constantly adjusted to meet driving demands. The four-wheel drive system is supplemented by a set of Hankook tyres that grip at 0.90 g. That is a great grip, but the front wheels may give out sooner than expected and the A4 can not keep up with a BMW 3-series in this department.
When the A4 senses understeer, it will automatically pulse the inside brakes to pull itself into a corner. It is an effective system, but it never gives a driver the sensation that the rear wheels are in control. If you opt for the adaptive damping suspension, the ride height will be lowered by 10 mm compared to the base setting. It also adds dampers with comfort, auto, and dynamic modes. With this system the shocks will change stiffness automatically or according to the driver’s whim. Comfort mode allows some wallow before it tightens; auto is exactly what it should be; and dynamic starts tight and only gets more so. The power steering system is also adjustable. If you set it in its softest mode, there is quite a bit of sloppiness when the suspension system is in Auto or Comfort. That gets somewhat better when you select Sport mode. Another option for a firmer suspension is the Sport package. This package lowers the A4 by 23 mm, but can not be paired to the adjustable shocks.
Most drivers are going to go looking for the top speed of their 2017 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro. Once there, they are going to want to know they can stop quickly. The braking system is capable of stopping the A4 from 115 km/h within 47 meters. That is a near match of the braking time of a Porsche.
The A4 is available in many trim levels. The automaker calls its base level Premium. That gets you a rearview camera; leather; xenon headlights; a sunroof; power seats up front; and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Quattro system is an option for this trim level. Next up is Premium Plus. This trim level adds LED headlights; larger wheels; a 755-watt 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system; an anti-theft system; heated seats; and the S-line body kit. The Prestige package adds a HUD; digital gauges; and a tech package with navigation; a larger screen; a blind-spot monitor; and rear collision warning. This level allows you to add heated rear seats and steering wheel; heated and cooled front seats; electronically adjustable suspension; and Audi’s Driver Assistance package.
In our humble opinion the 2017 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro is a best-in-class offering for its subtle refinement, advanced technology, and pleasing interior design. As to driving dynamics and exterior styling…the new A4 is lagging behind some German offerings and needs improvement; however, it is adept and elegant. Overall, the A4 conveys a quiet competence that can be easily misunderstood.