The 2010 Audi A4 spans a wide performance spectrum with its available engines and transmissions. The base sedan has a 211-hp turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, coupled to a six-speed manual, a six-speed automatic, or a continuously variable transmission (CVT) in front-drive versions. All-wheel drive is available on the 4-cylinder sedan and comes standard on the 6-cylinder sedan. The A4 wagon gets the turbo four, all-wheel drive and the 6-speed automatic.Though it's slower with either engine than the latest turbo BMWs, the Audi A4's performance is quick. Edmunds puts it bluntly: "a BMW 335i can blow its doors off." Edmunds was testing a V-6 A4, however; for 2010 Audi does offer an S4 with a supercharged V-6 engine to compete with the BMW turbo. Car and Driver finds the turbocharged four-cylinder "zippy." AutoWeek asserts this powerplant in the A4 Avant is "smooth, strong and sweeter than ever."
The 2010 Audi A4 turbo-4 comes with a 6-speed transmission as a sedan, or with a CVT. Wagons get an automatic and the turbo-4 and Audi's hallmark all-wheel drive. "Quattro has been around since the earth cooled," Edmunds comments. With a power bias of 40:60 to the rear wheels, "the A4's self-locking center differential redirects that power to the axle with the best traction" when traction suffers. Automobile points out "if need be, up to 90 percent can be directed to the front wheels."
All A4s have electronic power steering that responds quickly but with artificial feel and feedback. The new A4 also offers an optional Drive Select system that allows drivers to choose settings for ride quality, steering heft and quickness, and speed of transmission shifts. Car and Driver is fine with the variable steering feel, calling it "less conspicuous" than similar systems offered on BMWs. Automobile feels the steering is "light and direct" in town, "meatier" on back roads, and "relaxed, thanks to a languid four turns lock-to-lock," on the highway. Car and Driver says Drive Select feels "innately clean enough." Motor Trend thinks "the ride is a bit too harsh for everyday driving." Cars that don't have it have "precise, nicely weighted steering," Car and Driver says.
Automobile finds "traction and grip are phenomenal," and that "handling balance feels a lot more neutral." Edmunds calls it "a very sharp, communicative sedan and it's fun to throw around."
We say Drive Select strips out basic goodness. Steering feels too slow or too heavy, depending on the mode chosen, and ride quality can turn brittle in Sport mode. The worst offense with the A4, though, isn't Drive Select; it's the absence of Audi's fantastic dual-clutch transmission.