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THE AUTOMOTIVE COLUMN

Zippy A4 is a solid performer with a sporty look

The A4, Audi's entrant in the premium, mid-range car segment, vies for market share with the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class. A high volume model, the A4 is targeted at young, affluent customers who don't want a big sedan but who appreciate solid performance and a sporty look.
The A4 boasts a five-valve engine whose increased efficiency creates more torque and power while reducing fuel consumption. Yet it is one of the lightest engines in its class, which only adds to the car's quickness. "The acceleration is very quick," said Monika Horníková, country manager for Glaxo Wellcome Export Ltd. "I like [it] very much. To compare this car's acceleration with cars I've driven before, there's a huge difference."
A zippy turbocharger is also available to enhance the engine's performance. All A4 engines meet the European Commission (EC) Emission Directive's requirements.



The A4, Audi's entrant in the premium, mid-range car segment, vies for market share with the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class. A high volume model, the A4 is targeted at young, affluent customers who don't want a big sedan but who appreciate solid performance and a sporty look.

The A4 boasts a five-valve engine whose increased efficiency creates more torque and power while reducing fuel consumption. Yet it is one of the lightest engines in its class, which only adds to the car's quickness. "The acceleration is very quick," said Monika Horníková, country manager for Glaxo Wellcome Export Ltd. "I like [it] very much. To compare this car's acceleration with cars I've driven before, there's a huge difference."

A zippy turbocharger is also available to enhance the engine's performance. All A4 engines meet the European Commission (EC) Emission Directive's requirements.

Audi claims it was the first manufacturer to produce five-valve engines in large numbers.

Equipped with a four-arm front axle for front-wheel drive cars, first offered with the A8 series, the A4 combines steering comfort and the easy handling of a rear-wheel drive with the stability of a front-wheel drive. Although I found the A4's ride to be stable, it was rough over the bumps. And at high speeds on the highway, the car was knocked around by stiff winds, one drawback to the Audi engineers' quest for lighter materials.

The passenger compartment is a bit cramped. Leg-room in the back seat is barely satisfactory; on long trips, passengers relegated to the rear may get cranky. The front seats are comfortable, but a bit spartan with inadequate lumbar support. Wind noise in the cabin was a problem at over 140 km/hour.

The cabin styling is clean and handsome. The black material used for the dashboard, side panels, and steering wheel is supple and pleasing to the touch. The door armrests are covered in a soft, attractive fabric, as is the cream-colored ceiling. The rich wood paneling, although a bit commonplace in the newest line of premium class cars, adds a nice finish to the interior styling. The instrument panel and center console are well laid out, with no gratuitous gadgetry to confound the driver.

The A4's standard equipment includes an adjustable steering wheel, power steering, gas pressure shock absorbers (like those found in the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class), front and rear disc brakes, center armrest in the back seat, and first aid kit. The A4 is available with front-wheel drive (manual and automatic) and all-wheel drive (5-speed manual only).

Standard safety features include full-size driver and front passenger airbags, full-size front and rear headrests, a stable passenger cell and front and rear crumple zones, side impact bars in all doors, side impact-optimized door linings with padding at rib and hip level, and crash optimized seats.

Also standard are ABS anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution for extra safety when braking.

The A4 is available through Porsche Slovakia, Audi's importer in Bratislava. Delivery time for an A4 with special options is about six weeks, said Marta Kučerová, Porsche's marketing and PR manager. For standard models, there is no wait. "We have some cars available [for immediate delivery]," Kučerová said.

Jeffrey Jones is editor-in-chief of the Central Europe Automotive Report.


Information Box

Total Displacement:1896 cm3
Maximum Speed: 180 km/hour
Acceleration 0-100 km/h: 12.6 seconds
Length:4,152 mm
Body width: 1,735 mm
Trunk space: 350 liters
Price: 821,435 Sk (tax incl.)
urban cycle: 5.9 liters/100 km
90 km/h - 3.9 liters/100 km
120 km/h - 5.2 liters/100 km

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