2002 Audi A4
This 2002 review is representative of model years 2002 to 2004.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Audi has made its cars increasingly Americanized with broader appeal since the early 1990s, while retaining a strong identity. The 2002 "near-luxury" A4, which is Audi's top seller here, shows how good the German automaker has become in reading the U.S. market.
That market once was a disaster for Audi because allegations about "unintentional acceleration" of the aerodynamically advanced Audi 5000 model by the 60 Minutes television show nearly buried the automaker here. It turned out that 5000 drivers were mistakenly putting their foot on the gas pedal instead of the brake, but the controversy lingered for years.
Audi dealers rejoiced in 1992, when they got the new 100 model. It was the first Audi to which most Americans could relate. It had a V6 instead of a 5-cylinder engine, and a smooth body that could have come from American or Japanese automakers. Special pains were taken to make sure American drivers would hit the right pedals.
Least Costly Audi
At this point, the A4 Avant station wagon and hot rod S4 2.7T sedan and wagon are being sold as carryover models. They cost from $27,650 to $40,500 but haven't undergone the revamping of the 2002 A4 sedan. The redone version of the A4 Avant wagon may arrive next spring, while a new S4 may not be introduced until 2003. A new A4 convertible also probably will be offered as a 2003 model.
Resembles Costlier Model
The A4 thus is roomier because it's 1.3 inches wider, 2.3 inches longer and a half an inch taller, with a 1.3-inch longer wheelbase. The car also has wider front and rear tracks for a more athletic stance.
More Powerful V6
The A4 with the smooth, lighter V6 hustles to 60 mph in about 7 seconds. Almost equally as impressive is the more affordable mid-range A4 1.8T quattro (all-wheel drive) sedan. It has a refined turbocharged 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine that generates 170 horsepower.
At $26,650 with a manual transmission and $27,800 with a Tiptronic 5-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift feature, the A4 1.8T with Audi's accomplished quattro all-wheel-drive system costs much less than the front-drive A4 V6 sedan, which starts at $31,390.
Advanced CVT Automatic Transmission
Continuously variable automatics take some time to get used to because they don't have conventional gear changes. But, if a driver wishes to use Audi's new CVT for clutchless shifts, the advanced unit allows six clutchless manual gear changes via steering wheel thumb switches. This is the most advanced CVT; it can handle more horsepower and is more efficient than other CVTs.
Former owners of, say, Buicks probably will want the redone A4 with the new V6. But the A4 is the most fun with the turbocharged 4-cylinder and nifty 5-speed manual transmission.
Lots of Shifting
However, the 5-speed manual shifts crisply and works with a light action (but long-throw) clutch. The 1.8T with the manual provides decent 65-75 mph passing without downshifting to fourth gear.
Curiously, the V6 is available with a 6-speed manual transmission when it would do fine with a 5-speed unit because it's larger than the 4-cylinder.
Advanced Turbo Engine
Fuel economy of the redone A4 sedan is in the high 20s on the highway, but only in the teens and low 20s in town.
Impressive All-Wheel Drive
The A4 definitely is fun to drive, especially with the manual and quattro system. Audi says: "True to the performance tastes of customers in this category, 87 percent of buyers select models with the quattro all-wheel drive and nearly half prefer manual transmissions."
Fun to Drive
The standard suspension is fine, but the $1,000 Sport package is a good investment. It contains a sport suspension and wider wheels and tires.
There are pull-down front and rear armrests and a large glove compartment. But cupholders have a marginal design and rear windows don't go down all the way.
Impressive Cargo Area
The A4 is nicely equipped with comfort and convenience items. Safety features include head protection airbags for outboard occupants.
The revamped new A4 sedan can go head-to-head with entry-level BMW and Mercedes-Benz models, and is more Americanized than either of those formidable rivals.