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Audi A4 Review

Revised on

Originally posted on April 10th, 2003

Driving pleasure... finally.

My personal experience with the Audi A4 Avant Quattro 1.8T

Pros: Styling, long or short drives, gas mileage, braking, front seating, sound system, environmental controls, storage.

Cons: Cupholders, performance, exiting the driver seat.

I've had a lot of cars. 13 to be honest. I like cars. My favorite car of all time was a 1997 VW GTI VR6 (see crash photos...). It was a great car. My wife won't let me have another VW because... well... a... I like to drive fast and have a little fun when I am behind the wheel. I don't break any laws mind you, I just like to take drives up in the California hills. Skyline and Hwy 9 are my favs.

I had a 2001 VW Eurovan for the last 2 years but I always felt that it lacked the feel of a nice driving vehicle. Don't get me wrong, I liked my Eurovan. It just didn't fit in with my lifestyle.

While on one of our weekly walks around the neighborhood, we found ourselfs in the Rector Audi dealership in Burlingame California. We *were* on a walk, I didn't even have my wallet with me or any identification so car buying wasn't in the program. We were interested in the Audi's but didn't think we would get one this soon. Anyway, I found myself sitting in a wide range of Audi's. We first gravitated to the Allroad A6. Nice... so's the price tag at $54,000 bucks. So, we sat in the A6 3.0 and test drove that one. It was very nice. Great acceleration and very nice interior. I swear that Audi has really really come a long way. These cars are top notch automobiles. Every bit as good as a Mercedes or a BMW in my opinion and I have drove all of them. I've never owned a BMW or Merc. but I have had friends and family who have and they are unquestionably great cars.

The first thing that is most striking is the overall appearance. Low to the ground, sleek, aerodynamic, very classy shape and design that will not look old in 3 years like the Saturn or the Pontiac's out there. The German's are know for this but they do screw up sometimes.

So, we settled on the A4 1.8T Avant. It's the wagon version. When you first sit in the Avant it feels like a larger car than it is. The front seats are a tad small. I'm a big guy, 6'1" 230lbs. The seat goes back far enough, in fact, I have to pull it up a inch or two to be right where I want be. The steering wheel telescopes in and out (to and away from you) and up and down. All the controls for the turn signal, cruise control, wipers, etc are just 1 1/2 to 2 inches away from the steering wheel which it just ideal.

I like to rest my right arm on the center console armrest and when I do I can hold hands with my wife or reach the shifter and radio controls perfectly. The armrest has two more cupholders for say a can of Coke or coffee but you'll find this awkward because now you have nowhere to put your arm and reaching for your drink is just as awkward because if you drive with your right hand then you'll find yourself reaching for your drink with your left crossing either over you right arm or under to take a sip. It's one of my negatives.

The glove compartment is awesome! Wow! I could put a full Sunday newspaper in there with room to spare!

When you sit in the Avant, you'll notice the console that runs in the middle of the car (where the radio is and air controls) seems to protrude into your right leg just a bit when your foot is on the gas pedal. On long drives it would be a bit bothersome. Then I noticed I was not positioning my leg properly and then I found the console was almost perfect for long driving because I can rest my leg up against the console. If you do that though, you most likely would be using the cruise control and move your right leg away from the console and rest it at an angle which I find more comfortable.

The instruments are all laid out perfectly. All are completely visible. This is a rarity on a lot of cars even some BMWs. The instruments have a pale red lighting scheme with white highlights. The door locks aluminate at night with little red LEDs that are built into the lock handle/switch informing you that the door is secure when the light is on.

Driving the avant is a pleasure, even at 3800 pounds. It's like a rhino on roller skates I think. I didn't get the sports package and I'm glad. I bought this car for visiting my clients in the San Francisco financial district and If I wanted a sports car I would've got the Audi S6 or if my dreams would let me, the RS 6... wow... now that's a throw you back in the seat pee your pants growler!

Okay, I wanted something practical, stylish, comfortable, and reliable. I also wanted something from Germany. You must admit, almost every car made today owes something to designers in Germany. Jumbo jets owe their anti-lock brake to them. Chrysler even copied one of VWs throw away designs for a station wagon VW was designing for the Pacifica. If you do some searches on Google you'll find what I found...

Acceleration is a few bars above adequate. 0-60 in 8.7 seconds. The quarter mile in 17.1. The top speed is limited at 130mph but this can be... er...a.. fixed by talking to your local mechanic. Gas mileage is really nice at 20 city / 28 highway. Horsepower 170 hp @ 5900 rpm, Max. Torque 166 lbs/ft @ 1950 - 5000 rpm.

Engine details; oil 4.2 qts, fuel tank 17.4 gal, cooling system 6.9 qts.

The suspension is front four-link, upper and lower control arms, stabilizer bar, coil spring and shock absorbers (gas charged). The Rear fully independent, trapezoidal-link rear suspension, stabilizer bar, separate coil springs and shock absorbers (gas charged).

Click here to see the Audi A4 specsheet PDF

Parking is great because it's sized just right and parallel parking is a breeze. It is a tad hard to get used to parking by the curb because the girth of the car defeats your view of the side where you can see the wheels so I find myself noticing when I exit that I am sometimes more than a foot away from the curb. U-Turns are no problem with a turning circle of 36.4 ft. This is nice for those wrong turns one makes in the downtown alleys where space can be not so generous.

Cup holders, yes, cup holders... one of the few negatives of this Audi. The main cupholder positioned directly above the right hand side near the sound system couldn't be in a more inadequate place. The cup holder itself is designed quite nicely, holding a variety of cups up to 18oz but one must question Audi's decision of the placement of this American necessity. It's right there by the radio and one false move, a bump in the road or a pothole will (even with a cupholder cover) will sploosh a few drops of liquid on the nice console. Almost makes you think it's a European joke. Cupholders are a American thing, most European cars over there don't bother.

There are two more cupholders built in to the armrest but try using these while driving. It's almost a accident waiting to happen.

The two cupholders built into the rear seat armrest that folds down where the 5th passenger would be seated and that one is really nice capable of holding normal sized coffee cups. The same armrest also holds a First Aid kit in a bright red pouch.

Seating in the rear reminds you of your childhood because you'll need to be a child to really get along with it. It's pretty tight back there. I've read other car reviews from major magazines and they rate the rear seats of this Audi A4 Avant with a acceptable remark but I sincerely disagree. Only small children or rover will get along with it.

The front seats are just fine for my 6 foot 1 inch 225lb frame. In fact, it's pretty comfortable. The driver power seat is really cool. Every control that any other luxury car has is there lumber, etc.



This review is still in progress...



Audi Website

Audi A4 Avant Specs
Audi Website

I Bought my A4 at Rector Audi in Burlingame California