My 2006 Audi A4 Avant wagon was purchased new in October of 2005. It's an all wheel drive ... or "Quattro" as Audi calls it ... set up with the turbo four cylnder engine and a six speed "Tiptronic" automatic transmission.
I usually do my car write-ups soon after I purchase the vehicle, but in this case I thought I'd wait so I could provide a more objective insight into the pros and cons of the car. All cars have their own "honeymoon" periods, when everything is just wonderful and the new car smell still taints one's objectivity. So, after 2 years and 20,000 miles, how has the little A4 done?
My wife does about 60% of the driving, I do the rest but prefer to be behind the wheel of my 2005 Corvette. Still, I have to admit, I really do like this car. My wife is not a "car person" by any stretch of the imagination, yet she gushes over "her" Audi and constantly tells me how much she loves to drive this car. This car does have a lot going for it.
I'm 6'3" and my wife is 5'2", so comfortable and versatile seating is a must. Both of us can find very comfortable driving positions in this car. Both of us also find the front passenger seating excellent. Front legroom is generous, but when I have my seat back there is literally no room behind me. If we have to carry passengers in the back seat, I have to drive with my seat pulled forward. Headroom is great.
The left foot dead pedal is large and well placed, but there is scant space under the brake pedal, so I have no comfortable place for my right foot on long trips with the cruise control engaged. Seat memories are linked to the key fobs, so the seats will adjust when you hit the unlock button before entering the vehicle. I must mention that this great feature does not always work well. Sometimes the fob will either not trigger the correct memory preset or not work at all. This happens on occasion with no rhyme or reason. Both front seats are heated and adjustable in six steps.
The steering wheel pulls in and out, and tilts up and down. These are continuous manual adjustments, so any position can be locked in place. Power adjustments would be nice, but the manual adjustments are easy to use. The wheel is very well shaped and comfortable. It has audio controls on it, for both volume and station selection, but no cruise controls.
On the road, there is virtually no wind noise in the car, and a very low level of road noise. The four cylinder engine however, can make quite a racket, especially when laboring in the lower rev ranges. Above 3,000 rpm, it does quiet down and sounds much smoother. Under normal, non-spirited driving conditions, the transmission does like to stay in the higher gears. This is great for economy, but it does often keep the engine well below its power band.
The six speed "Tiptronic" is well matched to the car, in spite of its economy tuning. You can leave it in "S", and the shifts will be much more aggressive than in "D". You can also choose to push the shift lever over to the "Manual" mode, and shift through the gears yourself. I've tried shifting manually and find this feature to be more of a novelty than a useful driving tool. The only time I really use it is on slippery surfaces or going up or down a steep hill. Generally, it's a smooth shifting and unobtrusive transmission and I do like it.
Since my wife is the prime driver of this vehicle, I did not order the Sport Suspension option. That has not turned out to be the mistake I feared it would be. The A4 handles and tracks well. There is some very mild roll in sharp corners, and a bit of dive during heavy braking but, all in all, handling is well controlled and reasonably crisp. The steering is excellent ... well weighted with good feedback. Damping over harsh roads is very well controlled, and there is no floatiness at all over smooth roads, regardless of speed.
The turbo four can be noisy, as I mentioned earlier, but it does offer reasonable acceleration with exceptional fuel economy. While certainly not at all in the same class as my Corvette, it still offers 0-60mph acceleration in the mid 8 second range. This is good enough for the quick passes required driving the two lane roads in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, where passing zones are few and far between. Fuel economy has been very impressive, and I consistently top 30mpg on highway runs. Local driving typically gets me about 23-26mpg.
Storage space is excellent in the car. The glove box is actually useful, there are pockets in the doors, and the split rear seats fold down. There is a security cover for the rear storage area behind the seats, and nets and straps to help secure smaller items.
Service issues have been few and far between for this car. An odd beeping chime on startup was traced to a bad microphone in the steering wheel. This was repaired under warranty. One battery had to be replaced on my wife's fob ... I did that myself in a minute. Other than that, this car has been rock solid. It starts with no protests in 30 below zero weather.
The Quattro all wheel drive system is great. I have had this car through the worst snow and ice storms that nature can throw at us, and it always seems to be able to maintain its composure. I should mention that I always run four dedicated snow tires during the winter months. The standard all weather tires will get you through most conditions, but they simply can not offer the same braking ability or cold weather performance as a true snow tire. With a set of good snows, this car is unbeatable for winter driving.
This car is equipped with the Xenon headlight package. I would strongly recommend the Xenons. Good headlights are critical when none of the roads you're on are lit, which is the case here. These lights throw a long and wide beam, and the light is pure white and surprisingly bright. You can leave your lights set to "automatic" and the car will turn your lights on for you when the outside light starts to dim. I always use this feature and have found it just about perfect.
So, is there anything I don't like about this car? Well, as mentioned, it would be nice to have some foot room under the brake pedal. The hand brake interferes with the arm rest/console in that it will hit it if you have the arm rest in a low position. The fobs/memory seat link can get weird. There are two left stalks ... one for directionals and brights, the other for the cruise control. It's easy to accidentally flash your lights when you meant to hit the cruise control. Oh, one more thing. The inside fuel door and hatch release buttons are hidden behind the driver's door panel. They are hard to reach and difficult to see, so it's easy to open the hatch when you want to open the fuel door .. and vice versa.
I think Audi has a great little car here. For 2009, the A4 will grow in size and feature roomier interior dimensions as well. They claim the same weight and even better performance from their little workhorse turbo four. This should be interesting ... I can't wait for a test drive!
Amount Paid (US$):
2006Model and Options:
A4 Avant Quattro Automatic