2008 Audi A4 Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 22, 2008

The 2008 Audi A4 is a competent, high-quality entry-level import that’s in its last year of production.

TheCarConnection.com's editors read the latest reviews on the new 2008 Audi A4 to write this comprehensive review. Experts from TheCarConnection.com also drove the Audi A4 in Europe and the U.S. to offer you a definitive opinion on this practical and sporty car. Additionally, this review compares the 2008 Audi A4 with other vehicles in its class to give you the best advice even when other reviews present conflicting opinions.

The 2008 Audi A4 has been a longtime favorite of editors from TheCarConnection.com. In Avant wagon and sedan body styles, the Audi A4 is a great performer wrapped in a practical package. The current generation of A4 was new in 2005, and a new version is due for the 2009 model year--just around the corner.

To keep up interest in the current A4, for Audi, 2008 is the year that the company makes the more aggressive S-package styling standard on the A4. The look is bolder, with different front and rear fascias. Most everything else is carried over, and that's not a bad thing, since the 2008 Audi A4 is a tastefully designed sedan or wagon with one of the auto industry's best interiors.

The two body styles of 2008 Audi A4 are available with either front-wheel or quattro all-wheel drive. Power comes from a choice of four- and six-cylinder engines. A 2.0-liter turbocharged direct-injection inline-four that generates 200 horsepower is standard; the optional 3.2-liter V-6 is borrowed from the larger A6 and likewise uses direct injection to produce 255 horses. The four-cylinder can be mated to either a six-speed manual or Multitronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic in the sedan version; the wagon and all V-6 models offer a choice of the six-speed manual or a conventional six-speed automatic gearbox. The V-6 sedans and wagon include a standard sunroof, and all automatic-equipped A4s get F1-style shift paddles on the steering wheel.

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Four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, the latest version of Audi's Electronic Stabilization Program, traction control, and front-seat side-impact and side curtain airbags all come standard, along with heated washer jets, which are great to have when the snow flies.

Options include adaptive high-intensity discharge headlamps (an upgrade from the standard projector beam units) and a navigation system with Audi's Multi-Media Interface (MMI). We're not too crazy about MMI, as it's like BMW's iDrive. A well-designed conventional interface works better for us.

Dynamically, the 2008 Audi A4 is as excellent as ever, especially considering the enthusiasts from TheCarConnection.com tend to prefer more sporting rear-wheel-drive layouts.

Dynamically, the BMW 3-Series is the standard bearer, so while the Audi A4 is good, if you're looking for the best driving experience, the BMW is still tops. However, the Infiniti G35 sedan is an excellent choice for the enthusiast, as its standard V-6 is velvety smooth and its chassis is very sophisticated. The Cadillac CTS is also very capable and offers the room of an Audi A6 for the price of an A4.

The Acura TL, also front-wheel drive, offers handling nearly as sharp as the Audi A4's, but it doesn't quite match it, nor does it offer all-wheel drive. The same goes for the more luxury-oriented Lexus ES 350.

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2008 Audi A4

Styling

The 2008 Audi A4 sports a nose that’s awkward on first glance, but the rest of its styling is smooth as satin.

The 2008 Audi A4 has been a longtime favorite of editors from TheCarConnection.com. In Avant wagon and sedan body styles (the Cabriolet is covered separately, as is the Audi S4), the Audi A4 is a great performer wrapped in a practical package.

Kelley Blue Book notes the new Audi corporate grille takes some time to get used to: "At first, we thought the Audi family's trapezoidal big-mouth grille looked less graceful on the A4 than when we first saw it on the larger A6 and A8. But, like its big brothers, the A4 seems to embrace its identity a little more warmly every time we see it." Automobile takes note of its “controversial, massive grille. It's hard to miss that chrome snout barreling toward you” and the “jigsaw-puzzle-piece taillamps.” Automedia observed in 2005, when the current A4 emerged, “A new contour line on the A4's sides sharpens the profile, while new taillamps are wider, extending over the trunklid. All in all, Audi did a masterful job.” Car and Driver simply calls it “elegant.”

To keep up interest in the current A4, for Audi, 2008 is the year that the company makes the more aggressive S-package styling standard on the A4. The look is bolder, with different front and rear fascias. The folks at Autoblog liked it better than last year, noting "a sportier front bumper and grille design, lower side door flares, and integrated rear trunk lid spoiler."

Most everything else is carried over, and that's not a bad thing, since the 2008 Audi A4 is a tastefully designed sedan or wagon with one of the auto industry's best interiors. Edmunds adds that "the cherry on top of any Audi vehicle is usually its cabin, and the [2008 Audi] A4 maintains this standard." In this case, Automobile reports, the cabin is “so form-fitting it looks as if it were blown in.” Cars.com reports S-line accents include “brushed-aluminum pieces, special stitching and a three-spoke sport steering wheel." Kelley Blue Book comments that "the textured aluminum is one of the finest examples of interior metal trim we've ever seen, and every surface and seam is pleasing to both the eye and the touch."

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2008 Audi A4

Performance

The 2008 Audi A4 accelerates smartly with the V-6 engine and manual transmission, but the CVT and the occasionally bumpy ride sullies some opinions.

Although the A4 Audi is bit lightweight for some in terms of power, TheCarConnection.com's team finds most reviewers are satisfied with the 2008 Audi A4 in terms of overall performance.

Power comes from a choice of four- and six-cylinder engines. Standard is a 2.0-liter turbocharged direct-injection inline-four that generates 200 horsepower; the optional 3.2-liter V-6 is borrowed from the larger A6 and likewise uses direct injection to produce 255 horses. Cars.com reports "plenty of power hails from the V-6, in a civilized manner," but also notes "strong performance with the turbocharged four-cylinder is devoid of turbo lag, and it's a tad more spirited." Edmunds observes that A4 Audi "acceleration is certainly adequate on everything…we've found the 2.0T a little light on torque down low." However, "once the tach sees 2,500 rpm, there's plenty of pull on tap." The Audi A4 2008's V-6 is "smooth, but with only 255 hp, it lacks the motivation needed to keep pace with competitors' 300-plus-hp V6s."

The four-cylinder can be mated to either a six-speed manual or Multitronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic in the sedan version; the wagon and all V-6 models offer a choice of the six-speed manual or a conventional six-speed automatic gearbox. J.D. Power reports that "the shifter pops fluidly from gate to gate," and Cars.com comments that "the manual gearbox shifts easily, and Audi's automatic transmission works without any harshness...Audi's ultra-smooth multitronic CVT works masterfully and subtly. After slight hesitation during takeoff, the car moves ahead with some haste." ConsumerGuide states that the Audi A4 2008 "manual-transmission 2.0T sedan did 6.8 sec 0-60 mph," but notes that "front-drive A4s with CVT are lazy on takeoff."

The two body styles of 2008 Audi A4 are available with either front-wheel or quattro all-wheel drive. “The extra traction afforded by the Quattro all-wheel-drive system is quite useful in Northern climates,” Edmunds says.

Fuel economy is better than expected in the Audi A4. Autoblog reports this year's A4 Audi as being "one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles in its luxury segment." EPA estimates are 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway with the four-cylinder engine.

ConsumerGuide says "the base suspension with 16- or 17-inch tires provides firm control and mostly good bump absorption," noting "little difference with the S line package's sport suspension." Edmunds reports a "balanced ride and handling and a suspension that dispenses with ruts and potholes with unflappable German efficiency," calling it "a sterling daily driver." Cars.com feels “The A4 is solid and appealing, joyfully tackling twisting roads and taking every turn in stride,” but Car and Driver chides the A4 for a “bumpy ride, especially with optional sport suspension.” They, however, add, “Handling response and steering feel almost match the BMW 3-series,” though understeer is still pervasive and body control isn't perfect.

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2008 Audi A4

Comfort & Quality

The 2008 Audi A4 is most comfortable hauling children and middling amounts of cargo in its exquisitely finished interior.

Based on available reports, TheCarConnection.com gives the 2008 Audi A4 superior marks for comfort and materials.

ConsumerGuide reports that A4 Audi seats as being "firm and comfortable...all models have ample headroom and legroom, though the center console steals enough knee space to annoy some drivers." Edmunds comments "some may find the seats overly firm, but most will agree that they provide welcome support when road-tripping." However, Kelley Blue Book warns that "the A4's rear seat can be tight on legroom for some, and the front armrest can interfere with the parking brake lever." J.D. Power advises that the Audi A4 2008 rear seat "is clearly not made to accommodate larger adults."

The 2008 Audi A4 does better in terms of cargo space. Edmunds informs that "A4 sedans can haul up to 13.4 cubes of luggage in the trunk, while the Avant [station wagon] manages 27.8 cubes with the rear seats up and 59 cubes with the seats folded." ConsumerGuide points out that A4 Audi "interior storage is limited to the glovebox, door map pockets, and a small center console bin."

True to form, the Audi A4 2008 interior is of superior quality. ConsumerGuide indicates that "A4 cabins impress for classy design, materials, and workmanship," but adds "a few interior rattles were noted in some test Avants." Edmunds attests that the Audi A4 2008's "design is above reproach, and build and materials quality is superlative." Kelley Blue Book "finds the A4s comfortable, stylish and well-crafted cabin nearly without fault," advising "if you're looking for a nice place to spend a commute, you won't have to look beyond the A4."

It's not, however, the most silent vehicle in which to spend that commute time; ConsumerGuide reports that "engines purr at cruise and snarl discreetly at full throttle," but notes that "low-profile 18- and 19-inch tires whine on concrete and thump on ruts." J.D. Power contends "when traveling on less than perfect pavement, the cabin erupts in a cacophony of little rattles, squeaks and creaks."

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2008 Audi A4

Safety

The 2008 Audi A4 can be counted on to carry its occupants safely and securely.

High test scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and a full range of safety equipment earn the 2008 Audi A4 a nearly perfect safety score from TheCarConnection.com.

The NHTSA gives the 2008 Audi A4 top marks of five of five stars in front side impact crash protection and four out of five stars in frontal impact protection, rear side impact protection, and rollover resistance. The more stringent IIHS rates the A4 Audi as "good" in all testing categories.

Autoblog reports that in the Audi A4 2008 "safety has also been a top priority for the current model," noting that the "A4 [Audi] was the first passenger vehicle in its luxury segment to offer brake disc wiping as standard equipment in early 2005." The A4 Audi ESP 8.0 stability system "reduces the chances of inhibited braking performance during wet or inclement weather."

Cars.com brings up the "xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights that can pivot during a turn" for the 2008 Audi A4, along with "a Parktronic rear park assist system that beeps to warn drivers if they are approaching objects to the rear."

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2008 Audi A4

Features

TheCarConnection.com finds that the 2008 Audi A4 has something for everyone in terms of standard and optional equipment.

The technophile and the audiophile will find much to smile about when riding in the 2008 Audi A4.

Automobile advises high-tech fans to "look for all manner of [A4 Audi] technogimmickry, including MMI, seats that self-adjust based on the occupant's height and weight, and an MP3 player integrated into the ignition key." Edmunds reports that the Audi A4 2008 sedan and wagon "come standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, a power driver seat, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control and a 10-speaker, six-CD/MP3 changer."

There's no shortage of options available for the Audi A4 2008, either. Kelley Blue Book reports that the 2008 Audi A4 has "a long list of options, including a choice between leather and premium leather seating, DVD-based navigation, premium sound system, heated seats, driver-position memory, rear-window sunshades, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, wood trim, Homelink, auto-dimming/power-folding outside mirrors, bi-xenon adaptive self-leveling headlamps, retractable high-pressure headlamp washers, 17-inch wheels, [and] a sport suspension."

Edmunds adds that "[A4 Audi] buyers can also opt for heated rear seats (via a cold weather package), a navigation system, [and] an upgraded 10-speaker Bose sound system"--an Audi A4 2008 option certain to delight audiophiles.

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January 27, 2016
2008 Audi A4 4-Door Sedan Manual SE 2.0T quattro

Best car I've ever owned.

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I love my 2.0T Quattro A4. Has plenty of performance to use day-to-day, especially with the Unitronic Stage 1+ ship I added. The torque comes on early and strong. The quattro is awesome in the winter time. The... + More »
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8.4
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Expert Rating
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Styling 8.0
Performance 8.0
Comfort & Quality 8.0
Safety 9.0
Features 9.0
Fuel Economy N/A
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