The 2012 A4 shows plenty of signs of being a true sport sedan in the way it steers, accelerates, and stays tied down at high speeds; even though it might not be a dynamic rival to the likes of the Infiniti G37 or BMW 3-Series, its stable, planted feel is confidence-inspiring whether you're out on the open road or in urban congestion.
With 211 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder churns out 11 more hp and an additional 51 lb-ft of torque over the previous 2.0T engine. Peak torque comes on quickly, and it's easy to flat-spot the front tires as a result. Manual transmission cars can scoot to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds (it's 6.6 seconds with the automatic); those figures put it in BMW's 328i territory.
Audi's 6-speed manual has less of the usual rubbery VW feel, more of the BMW precision. It has tall gear ratios that can lead to more frequent downshifts, all in the name of gas mileages. On all-wheel-drive models, Audi fits a crisp-shifting 8-speed automatic.
The A4 steers with reassuring firmness and more feedback than most of the other compact luxury sedans. It doesn't have the low-speed brilliance of, say, the Infiniti G37, but it does have better high-speed tracking. Brakes are still a place to pick nits; they can feel grabby and overboosted at low speeds, though they're well-sorted for high-speed duty.
Base A4 cars get front-wheel drive and a CVT, a combination we haven't loved in other applications. We haven't spent much time in this model, which omits all-wheel drive and doesn't offer great improvements in fuel economy.