2017 Audi A4 Review: “Entry-Level” Luxury At Its Best

While traveling through Vietnam last year, I took my time in the quaint, tailor-filled town of Hoi An, where I leapt at the opportunity to have a silky black blazer custom-made to my weird, lanky specifications. Back home, I started wearing that blazer everywhere, receiving compliments on its snug fit and reveling in the feeling of confidence and comfort it gave me.

The tailors at Yaly Couture had talked me into a suave, crimson inner lining, and the bar-none craftsmanship meant the blazer would last me for years. But the best part of my flagship wardrobe piece is the value. For this silk-lined, artisan-made perfection I paid just $125.

For years, no product I found stateside could provide the holistic awesomeness and incredible value of my beloved blazer. That changed when I spent a week in the 2017 Audi A4 (get specs, pricing and reviews from Edmunds.com). Overlooking a few minor annoyances, the newest A4 offers the Millennial who earns a little extra everything they could want from an entry-level luxury sedan, and then some.

Now, we’ll be quick to remind you that spending money on brand new cars is not great for your bottom line. But a few of us at Money Under 30 also happen to be driving enthusiasts. If cars are your thing-and you can afford it, of course–there’s nothing wrong with doing some “intentional spending” on a nice ride. And even if you can’t afford it yet, it’s fun to dream. You can find lots of affordable cars that are fun-to-drive in the meantime!

2017 Audi A4 overview

The full name of my tester was the 2017 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0T Quattro S Tronic. Playing along with their DJ-like lingo, let’s break it down.

The A4 is Audi’s second least expensive sedan in their lineup, living a notch above the entry-level A3. 2.0T indicates what’s under the hood; a turbocharged 2-liter 4-cylinder, pumping out an impressive 252 horsepower and 271 lb-ft of torque. Quattro, meaning all-wheel-drive, helps catapult this sedan to 60 in just 5.2 seconds; a nudge faster than the BMW 328i and significantly swifter than the Mercedes C300 or Lexus IS 350. Lastly, S Tronic means automatic, though Audi is also offering the A4 in manual this year (hallelujah!).

2017 Audi A4: What we love

If refinement ranks higher than performance on your luxe-ride bucket list, the Audi edges out in that category as well. The A3’s design team must’ve lost a high-stakes poker game to the A4’s, because the leap in quality between the two interiors is almost comical. While the former is nice, the A4’s cabin is something two-drink Kanye could spend 30 seconds in without noticing it’s not his $150k S-Class. Adjustable LED lighting bathes the tastefully-applied aluminum and leather, giving this budget-friendly sedan an ultra-luxe vibe inside.

Aside from beautiful, another descriptor comes to mind inside the A4’s cockpit: ergonomic. All displays and buttons are precisely canted towards the driver, and the electronic gear-shift lever molds nicely to your hand and thumb. Audi’s dashboard steals the show; rather than an odometer and a speedometer separated by a small LCD as modern tradition dictates, Audi’s entire dashboard is a high-res LCD screen.

There’s not a hint of choppiness or aliasing in the dashboard’s graphics, as the MPH needle creeps up in crisp, 60+ frames per second. I’m an automotive purist who believes in the sanctity of an analog odometer, but Audi pulled off their digital dashboard so well that I conceded a golf clap after my first drive.

Included in that gentle golf-clap was my impression of the handling. While tight, the A4 doesn’t feel as fun or athletic around a bend as, say, the C-Class or a 3-Series, but it’s unlikely that anyone but hard-cornering sports car veterans will notice.

What all will notice, however, is the noise. There isn’t any, save for what you’re blasting through the Bang & Olufsen sound system. Car and Driver found that while in motion, the 2017 Audi A4’s cabin is only 1 decibel louder than the inside of a $417,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom; it’s even quieter than its own bigger brothers, the A6 and the A8. Simply put, this car’s weirdly-quiet cabin further asserts its dominance in its segment.

Alongside “quiet” comes “soft.” While the A4 doesn’t ride like anything near a $417,000 Rolls-Royce, the car still handled Atlanta’s choppiest root-mangled roads with reasonable grace. The $1,000 adaptive damping suspension is a no-brainer on the options list.

Outside, the Audi A4 again echoes my black blazer: classy, yet understated. The car’s prettiest side is right in front, with sleek, LED eyes complimenting the classic Audi grille. The aesthetics exude confidence and class in the back as well; the sexy, sharp taillights say “back off” like a squinting Ronda Rousey.

2017 Audi A4: What needs work

So, while we’ve established that the 2017 Audi A4 is brilliant inside and out, it isn’t free of annoyances.

Sadly, this car doesn’t have any style statements to make from the side. While competitors’ designers used swooping lines to slice through the doors for an aerodynamic look, the artists at Audi seemed OK with the production A4 having the side profile of a Jetta. Thankfully, the optional 5-spoke 18″ Audi wheels add some much-needed bling factor to the profile view.

When it comes to driving, though the Germans are masters at milling down turbo lag, there’s still a hint of it in the A4’s sprint.

Technology-wise, there’s a frustrating delay onscreen when choosing a new drive mode, almost like it’s operating from a four-year-old iPhone. A delay for a single function seems trivial, I know, but for enthusiasts who like to regularly swap from Comfort to Sport/Dynamic during commutes, it’s 2-3 sigh-worthy seconds of waiting while BMW and Lexus owners can just twist an analog knob (as it should be).

But these points shouldn’t deter anyone with the budget from seriously considering an A4. It’s just that good.

2017 Audi A4 pricing and options

The base 2017 Audi A4 quattro comes in at just under $40,000, putting it right in line with its luxury sports sedan competitors from Lexus, Mercedes, and BMW.

Though it’s eye-wateringly expensive, I would be tempted to splurge for the $8,900 Prestige Package, which adds the nicer wheels, a top-down camera, a sublime audio system from Bang & Olufsen, LED interior lighting, and a slew of other features you’ll be glad you bought.

The $1,800 Driver Assistance package, which adds lane assist and traffic sign recognition, tosses in too little to justify itself in my opinion. The Cold Weather package, which adds a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats, may be well worth $500 to buyers above the Mason-Dixon line, and $1,000 for Adaptive Damping Suspension is worth it for the smoother ride; your back will thank you.

Summary

All-in we’re looking at a tick above $50,000 for a handsomely-equipped Audi A4. It’s a bit more expensive than my tailored blazer, but provides the same incredible value for money. Plus, given Audi’s recent meteoric rise on Consumer Reports’ Reliability Ratings, it should also last for years without a visit to its makers.

Learn more: 2017 Audi A4 specs, pricing and reviews from Edmunds.com

Photography by Evan Carter @evvster