New Car Review of the 2005 Audi A4 Compact Sports Sedan
Base MSRP Range: $25,800-$55,150
Base Invoice Range: $23,823-$50,787
MSRP As Tested: Not Available
Versions: 2.0, 3.2
Vehicle Category: Mid-Size Luxury Sedan, Wagon and Convertable
Engine Location: Front Engine
Drive Wheels: Four-Wheel Drive .
Fuel Economy (city/hwy): I-4 FWD 23/34, I-4 CVT 24/32, V-6 Automatic 19/21.
Standard Safety Features: Driver and passenger airbags, Inflatable side curtain airbags, Tire pressure monitoring system ">, Seat mounted side airbags, Dynamic stability control , Four-wheel anti-lock brake system, Brake assist.
Competition: Acura TSX, BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G35, Lexus IS300.
Audi has had a long, and somewhat checkered, history selling cars in the U.S. despite the beauty of their designs, wonderful sporty ride and handling, and magnificent interiors. It was in fact the predecessor of the new 2005 model, the 1995 Audi A4, that brought the company back from near extinction in the U.S. market; consumer complaints of unintended acceleration and poor build quality destroyed sales here. But those days are long gone, and Audi has been building some of the very best products on the market for a decade.
The 2005 A4 is the seventh B Class compact car Audi has sold in the U.S., starting with the Fox. And the A4 is the biggest seller for the company in North America -- although that may change with the introduction of the upcoming sub-compact, the A3.
Audi wanted the new A4 to be even sportier than the old model, “a real driver’s Car.” We found it hard to imagine a sportier A4 than already existed. But it does, with a new, more-rigid chassis, Quattro (Audi’s all-wheel drive system,) and three engine choices, giving the driver more power, under more control.
This launch marks the first time Audi will release all three of their engine options at the same time. They offer the 2.0-liter, inline 4-cylinder turbo, and the 3.2-liter V6 engines in the 2005 A4, and the V8 powered S4, and the Avant wagons all at the same time.
Audi’s trademarked Quattro All -Wheel Drive system celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. It is available on all engine and body styles. A cabriolet and an RS4 version, with over 400 horsepower, are both on the way.
World class design defines Audi products. Their cars have cutting-edge, thoroughly-modern styling with enough cues to make them easily identifiable as Audis. This new design is, admittedly, a little hard to get used to, as the old A4 was just beautiful. But the new design has grown on us, especially now that we have seen it on the road.
The front of the 2005 Audi A4 features the new design DNA first seen on the Audi Nuvolari Quattro concept car shown at the auto shows, and then on the new A8 and A6 sedans. The large, single-opening, trapezoidal grille is framed by newly-styled, clear-glass headlights. There is a cut line, that Audi calls it a “Tornado line,” running from the headlights to the taillights. It rises slightly from the front of the car to the back making it look in motion when it is standing still.
The taillights are split roughly in the middle, with half fixed in place by the rear fender, and the other half traveling with the trunk lid. The roofline is curved with a gentle slope.
Great dash layout, and top-notch cabin fit and finish, are among Audi’s finest attributes. They have called their interior packages “themes” in the past, and they definitely define the car’s interior atmospheres. Audi says the interior of the 2005 Audi A4, “fits like a fine tailored suit.” But that really has been the case for a decade. Audi interiors are indeed stellar.
Sitting behind the wheel is like being in the cockpit of a plane - it’s all very pilot focused and easily understood at a glance. Under the cowl are gauges for the speedometer, tachometer, fuel, and etc. At the top of the center stack are the controls for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) followed by the entertainment system. The Audi A4 is pre-wired for either XM, or Sirius, satellite radio and either can be purchased as a dealer installed option.
We really like satellite radio because great music and favorite shows are available even in remote locations with bad reception or without radio stations. It’s wonderful for people with long commutes, or those who travel a lot, as the station numbers are the same wherever you go. It’s no hassle to find your favorite music, news or sports. And the traffic updates can help drivers avoid congestion. It’s a great technology.
The front bucket seats are firm and hold the driver and passenger in place for spirited driving. They are comfortable enough so that your legs don’t go numb in stop and go traffic. The rear seat is spacious enough for three adults to sit comfortably. There is a fold-down, center console with cup holders for the rear passengers, and it opens so that skis can pass through from the trunk.
The interior is more luxurious than most cars in the price range. Even the base 2.0 T has neat amenities like sunshades in the doors for the rea passengers - a feature normally reserved for a brand’s flagship car, not its volume model.
The base power plant is a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, FSI (Fuel Straight Injection), dual-overhead cam (DOHC), inline, 4-cylinder engine. It generates 200-horsepower between 5,100 and 6,000 rpm, and 207 lb-ft of torque between 1,800 and 5,000 rpm. This is the engine for the budget minded, as not only is it in the least expensive A4, it also is the most fuel efficient. The I4 gets up to 23 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway, with the optional CVT transmission.
The optional 3.2-liter, DOHC, V-6 enginet develops 255-horsepower at 6,500 rpm, and 243 lb-ft of torque at 3,250 rpm. This is a REALLY a good engine. It’s very smooth and powerful enough to get you in trouble (fun) by the time you reach fourth gear. The gas mileage is better than the V-8, and it is cheaper to insure.
The S4 variant has a 4.2-liter, V-8 with 340-horsepower at 7,000 rpm, and 302 lb-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm. The S4 is an absolute BLAST to drive. It is truly Audi’s equivalent to the BMW M3. All it’s missing is Audi’s fantastic Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG), the best of the paddle-shifted, manual transmissions on the market. If the S4 had DSG, it would easily best an M3 with the Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG). The 4.2-liter, V-8 engine is used in both the A6 and A8 as well. Because of the S4’s much lighter chassis, the acceleration slams you back in the seat. It also has that great V-8 growl that really says “horsepower” to American drivers.
There are several transmission options which vary with the engine choice, and whether the car has front-wheel, or the all-wheel drive Quattro. Both have a six-speed manual as standard, and an automatic is available on the 2.0 Quattro, the V-6, and the 8. The manual is very smooth, and precise gear changes are quick and effortless. The front-wheel drive, 2.0-liter turbo comes with the six-speed manual transmission as standard, or CVT as an option. That’s all fine, we still want the DSG!
Ride and Handling
All Audi’s have great handling, especially those equipped with Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system. Audi introduced Quattro 25 years ago and it has come to be another technology that defines the Audi brand. Quattro gives Audis additional road grip when they would normally loose it, like in tight turns, or on wet pavement, sand, snow, ice or gravel. When Quattro was introduced it gave Audi a significant edge, leading to a chain of racing championships starting with World Rally, and, most recently, a win at Le Mans. In the U.S. Audis with Quattro have won championships in Trans Am, IMSA and American Le Mans.
The A4 is a precise handling car; you can dive into a turn with confidence. The car behaves exactly as you want it to. In bad weather the A4 can take turns at speeds other cars cannot. The A4’s handling competes very well with the BMW 3 Series and bests the Mercedes-Benz C Class for responsiveness. For even more acceleration, get the optional sport suspension. It lowers the A4 20mm and it is 30 percent stiffer than the standard suspension.
The A4 is exciting to pitch around on mountain roads. It is also very comfortable for day-to-day commuting, regardless of how bumpy the road is and how much stop and go traffic you have to deal with. The Audi A4’s ride is incredibly smooth for a car with sporty handling.
The previous Audi A4 was a safety leader in its class. The new car carries on the tradition, and raises the bar to the next level. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has given it a “Best Pick” rating for both front and side-impact crash tests. The 2005 Audi A4 is only the second car to have ever earned a double “Best Pick” award from the insurance industry research group.
Front-driver and passenger airbags, side airbags, and rear-seat, side airbags and all standard. The head curtain airbag is available as an option.
Stiffer suspension and driver aides like Traction Control, Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake-Pressure Distribution (EBD) are all standard. Audi has upgraded the Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP) with a brake-disc wiping feature. If you tap the brakes, the A4 wipes the brakes clear of water for better stopping capability. A tire-pressure monitoring system is also available as an option. And we consider Quattro a must-have safety feature for people who live where there is inclement weather. These drivers’ aides are very important to have in modern cars as a recent study by the IIHS and NHTSA show that thousands of lives could be saved each year if these systems were standard in all cars.
The 2005 Audi A4 is a great car. It is beautiful and improved in every way, including value -- the new engines really perform for the money. Fit and finish are top notch. The handling is on par with the best performance sedans in the world. The performance of the new I-4 turbo and V6 make the A4 more exciting than ever to drive. We just wish that they could make the A4 available with Audi’s fantastic Direct Shift Gearbox.
The starting price of the 2005 Audi A4 2.0 T with a manual transmission is $27,350. The S4 sedan can get as high $55,150 with an automatic transmission. These prices compare favorably to the BMW 3 Series which starts at $30,300 for the 325 sedan, and $36,300 for the 330I. A Mercedes-Benz C Class -- which is nowhere near as fun to drive as the A4 -- starts at $29,250 for the base C230 with a manual transmission and goes up to $53,900 for a C55 AMG with a manual. The A4 is a better value than the Jaguar X Type which starts at $30,830 for the small V6 and $36,330 for the top-of-the-line car. As the new BMW M3 is not out yet, there is no price comparison to be made to the S4. Jaguar had considered building a supercharged X Type R, but the project was scuttled and thus there is no performance version to compare with the S4.
If you are looking for the best deal on a European performance sedan, you need to look no further than the 2005 Audi A4.
Pros: The A4 is one of the best values in entry level luxury cars. Great styling and performance in a diverse package.
- Style: 8
- Performance: 8
- Price: 7
- Handling: 8
- Ride: 8
- Comfort: 8
- Quality: 9
- Overall: 8
Where Built: Germany
Major Options: Audio Package, Cold Weather Package, Rear side airbags, Navigation system, Leather upholstery,
Number of Rows: 2
Length in Inches: 180.6
Warranties: 4 years/50,000 miles bumper to bumper, 12 years/unlimited miles corrosion protection, 4 years/50,000 miles Roadside assistance.
Weight in Pounds: 3,726 lb - 3,858 lb.
Cargo Capacity in Pounds: Not available.
Gross Maximum Vehicle Weight in Pounds: Not available.
Towing Capacity in Pounds: Not Available.
Gas Tank Capacity in Gallons: 16.6 Quattro, 18.5 FWD
Destination Charge: $720