2010 Audi A4 Quattro: Looking for a Great Winter Vehicle?

December 29, 2009

After driving the 2010 Audi A4 Quattro during a heavy snowfall in Denver, I regained the appreciation for Audi's engineering as being one of the best sedans manufactured to go through snow.

The 2010 Audi A4 was redesigned in 2009, with new improvements that make it better for those who live in snow country. The exterior design is obviously new but yet is still familiar as an Audi. It is what you cant see, is where the most changes have occurred. The 2010 A4 is wider and longer but the same height as the previous generation. It's larger inside with the biggest improvement being the increased rear-seat legroom. It also has a bigger trunk that is easier to load. A six-inch increase in wheelbase, increases cabin space and the result is an improved ride quality and handling. For the first time, an adjustable suspension similar to that used on larger Audis is available on the A4.

I test drove the 2.0 TFSI Quattro which may look like the previous generation Audis, but it has been revised. It offers more power and better fuel economy than before with EPA estimates of 21/27 city/highway mpg. The six-speed automatic transmission has been updated along with the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The 2.0T delivers 211 horsepower, which is more than the six cylinders in the Lexus IS, Mercedes C300, and BMW 328.

Yet far more important for the Colorado driver in the world of altitude, is torque, and the A4's 2.0T has 258 lb-ft of it. Torque is what gives an engine the surge from a standing start and the power to propel a vehicle up a hill. So the A4 is more than capable of keeping up or passing those other cars. The A4 2.0T can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 7 seconds or less. The 2.0 turbo makes all that torque from just off idle at 1500 rpm all the way to 4200 rpm. And from 4200-6000 rpm it delivers the 211 horsepower.  None of the competitors has that kind of torque and even with Quattro all-wheel drive the A4 betters the BMW, Mercedes and Lexus EPA fuel economy ratings by 4-5 mpg in the city and 2-5 mpg on the highway.

The new A4 is a delight to drive and the Quattro more than holds its own against the other all-wheel-drive cars especially in the snow. As I was heading up I-70 last week, in the heavy snow, the car was stable and held the snow packed road even with the all-season radials it comes with.

Despite its modest size, the A4 comes well-equipped with leather, moonroof and automatic climate control as standard. Adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and a half-kilowatt surround-sound system, features normally associated with bigger luxury cars also are standard features.

I tested the Prestige model ($47,030) which adds 18-inch alloy wheels, Advanced key, Audi navigation, heated front seats, and a 505-watt, 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system. Options include Drive Select (dynamic steering, adjustable response, continuous damping control, lower ride height), adaptive cruise control, and wood trim ($2,950). It also came equipped with the bi-Xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights, the A4 looks a bit meaner, especially when the daytime running lights are on. They also provide better nighttime vision (including speed-dependent adjustment) and make the A4 stand out so other drivers see it sooner.

Leather upholstery is standard in every A4, and the interior finish matches what you would expect. On Prestige models, three-zone climate control gives independent control to each front occupant and a pair of vents with temperature gradient in the back of the center console.

The 2010 Audi A4 is a superb road car and especially for those who live in snowy climates when equipped with Quattro all-wheel drive. The Audi A4 arguably has the best four-cylinder engine in the entry premium segment. When you compare it with the competition, you will find that there's more room, a larger trunk, more power, better mileage, standard leather, and a lower price. They make a compelling argument for the A4.

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