By Al Vinikour
2005 Audi A4 AvantEnlarge Photo
The A4 is Audi’s best-selling model, having first entered the North American market in 1995. The most recent change came three years ago when the A4 grew larger and longer. This time around, the compact sedan (with the A3 coming, it’s no longer the entry-level Audi) acquires the new corporate single-frame grille already found on its larger siblings, the A6 and the A8.
Audi says the A4 sits comfortably in the premium mid-size segment. That is, as comfortable as it can considering its competition: the Volvo S60, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Infiniti G35 and the Acura TL. Like the majority of Europeans in the class, the A4 comes in two models — the four-door sedan and the Avant (wagon).
There are two powertrains available in the ’05 A4s, the 3.2-liter V-6 FSI, which made its production debut in the new Audi A6 last November, and the 2.0T FSI four-cylinder.
The V-6 pumps out 255 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque. What makes this naturally aspirated V-6 so unique is that 90 percent of the engine’s peak torque is available between 1900 and 5900 rpm. Coupled to it in the A4 are a new six-speed automatic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive. Don’t get any ideas about launching yourself into orbit — despite the additional power offered this year, the governed top speed is 130 mph.
2005 Audi A4
I drove the V-6 first and almost blew off driving the four-cylinder because, well, wouldn’t you? When I finally hopped in the turbo-four model, I was hooked. All the contestants in an Iron Man competition collectively couldn’t pull me out of that vehicle until I was finally ready to leave. It’s a new engine, used in the forthcoming A3 as well as the redone A4, and it combines turbocharging with direct injection to churn out 200 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque, which is available from 1800 to 5000 rpm.
Several transmissions are available with this engine choice. The A4 sedan has two front-wheel drive options — a six-speed manual and a CVT (continuously variable transmission) and two quattro versions with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic with Tiptronic. The Avant is available in only quattro all-wheel drive and the six-speed manual or automatic.
Depending on powertrain configuration, EPA mileage estimates range from 22 mpg city to 34 mpg highway.
Inside and out
2005 Audi A4Enlarge Photo
To mate up with its lithe, toothsome new face, the A4’s interior style has been given an upgrade. Step inside and you’re in another world. “Mikado” upholstery cloth seating is standard on the 2.0T and full leather is standard on the 3.2 quattro (optional on the 2.0T). Although the A4 is technically a five-seat vehicle, get there early and establish a beachhead on the outside.
2005 Audi A4
Instrumentation is well positioned high up so they’re easily within the driver’s field of vision. The center console is where a dual automatic climate control, audio system, and optional navigation live. Visibility is excellent and there are a minimum of blind spots.
Luxury vehicle or not, the A4 won’t put you in debtor’s
prison. The A4’s MSRP starts at $27,350 for a 2.0T with manual transmission to
$36,400 for a 3.2 quattro automatic Avant. You could spend a lot more and not
get a vehicle as good as this. Destination charges are $720 for all models,
which if you think about it, is a cheap fare from
Audi has done a nice job in trying to adopt as many customers as possible for their full-line family. I sometimes look at my own family and realize the closest they’ll ever get to being like an Audi is speaking German. And frankly, none of them does that well either.
2005 Audi A4
Price: $27,350 sedan; $36,500 Avant
Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder, 200 hp/207 lb-ft; 3.2-liter V-6, 255 hp/243 lb-ft
Transmissions: Six-speed manual, six-speed automatic with Tiptronic or CVT; front- or all-wheel drive
Length x width x height: 180.6 x 69.8 x 56.2 in
Wheelbase: 104.3 in
Fuel economy (EPA city/hwy): 23/34 mpg (manual); 24/32 mpg (CVT); 24/30 mpg (automatic)
Safety equipment: Dual front, side, and side-curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes; traction control; stability control; available quattro all-wheel drive
Warranty: Four years/50,000 miles