Pros: Low noise level; smooth drivetrain (quattro); comfortable cabin
Cons: power to weight ratio; climate controls; electrical components
I am the second owner of this 2.8 Quattro, having purchased the vehicle from a family member in Europe. After looking at numerous cars offered in the U.S. market, I decided I just couldn't get excited about anything from the Japanese (Acura, Infiniti, Lexus et al.) because they have suspensions that are too soft for my liking and everyone on the road has a Honda, Nissan or Toyota.
The Quattro feature is probably the best part of the A4 package allowing the car to corner accurately and smoothly. The twelve valve motor, however, lacks the horsepower to allow vehicle and driver to realise their full potential. This is readily apparent on a twisty road that happens to have a few hills: the handling is there, but the engine must strain to maintain the speed. This is one motor that could definitely benefit from a supercharger.
This particular car has a European suspension with Koni dampers, which allows it to sit lower and handle superbly. Since the quality of the road surface on most urban motorways in the U.S. can be inconsistent, the firmer ride at times can be a drawback. The Teves braking system provides confidence in its ability to allow the vehicle to stop in very short distances and helps with controling the handling on winding roads.
I'm not sure I understand all the discussion about cup holders since in Europe people do not eat and drink in their cars whilst driving. I've never used the cup holders, but I could see how a cup could tip over and spill liquid into the console.
I shipped this car from Europe two years ago and found the service by authorised Audi agents in the U.S. to be expensive, so I do most of the work myself. The only difficulties I've had so far are all electrical in nature with the headlamp switch failing late one night and the central locking system becoming intermittant in its operation. At 140,000 kms I replaced the water pump, timing and serpentine belts, coolant and other associated parts since failure of the timing belt means major work.
Fit and finish on the car is good and the quality of the materials is better than some more expensive vehicles. The gauges are nicely laid out and readable; all controls are easily accessible. Pedal feel is just right and the steering provides good feel of the road.
The A4 is an impressive, if underpowered, package!