The cabin of the 2012 Audi A4, while nicely appointed and comfortable for front-seat occupants, is a little snug for those in back—especially with respect to legroom.
That said, if you expect to use the back seat for adults and hope to make a good impression, the A4 simply isn't a good pick. With the A4's last redesign, for 2009, the back seat became usable for adults, but they're barely that; most will find legroom very limited, and taller passengers will have headroom issues.
The A4's front seats are still among the better ones in this class. The base front chairs are supportive if a bit flat across the bottom cushion, with power adjustment and leather upholstery, but the upgraded seats included with the Sport Package are excellent. Most controls are easily reached, and the steering wheel tilts and telescopes to provide even tall drivers with the chance at an optimal driving position.
Cargo space is excellent; the trunk is very large on sedans, and the wagon (Avant) has enough room—17.3 cubic feet behind the rear seat—to carry four roller suitcases plus a couple of soft-sided bags. The A4's built with tight seams and a uniformly high level of fit and finish inside and out, but there's plenty of black plastic on the dash and a few buttons and controls with less than perfect feel-though Audi's steering-wheel mounted rollers should be the new standard for audio controls. And for more cargo space, rear seatbacks fold forward, with a pass-though behind the fold-down armrest for skiis.
A few years ago, the A4's interior was a revelation compared to the rest of this class. But the latest A4 has neither the breakthrough materials that catapulted Audi so far ahead of the competition a decade ago nor the stunning interior design of the newer A6 and A7.
But the new model still leads the pack when it comes to design, and while the materials are about par, the build quality is still astounding—our editors couldn't get a single creak or rattle from the interior, despite a short stint on a gravel road.
Ride comfort can be a little too firm for some kinds of roads—especially if you shoose the Sport Package, which brings 18-inch sport wheels, high-performance tires, and a sport suspension. Engine noise can also be a little too present for a luxury sedan.