Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The best-driving Audi A4 yet, with more tech and less weight: Auto Business News

Welcome to Auto Business News blogIf you hear someone call the 2017 Audi A4 boring, smack him in the back of the head. That clown doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Strap yourself into the A4, and you’ll find the crisp new Virtual Cockpit making up the instrument cluster and a large and equally beautiful display atop the center stack. Why do you need two nav screens? That’s like asking why your phone needs a screen at all. It didn’t, until it had one, and then you couldn’t live without it.

Audi A4 - Auto Business News

What makes the A4 special this time around is the fun you’ll have behind the wheel. This is the best A4 in that department by far. Even under heavy provocation, you’re not going to find any understeer even though the whole engine block is still hung out over the front axle. The redesigned strut-type suspension adds another link to separate steering and vertical forces. The setup provides a great balance between comfort and handling, especially when paired with the optional adaptive damping system.
The 2017 A4 that’ll likely be most popular with American buyers is the 2.0 TFSI with Quattro all-wheel drive, so we focused on that model during our drive time. It’s downright snappy thanks to its 252 hp and standard seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. The European-spec car will hit 60 mph in about 5.6 seconds, according to Audi. U.S. cars might be even more agile thanks in part to a unique transmission tune.Expect a 2.0-liter TDI with Quattro at launch as well. (Given recent events, we’re guessing it will be tested within an inch of its life before it hits the road.) Front- wheel-drive models will follow soon after. Sadly, no manual transmission is in the works.
Part of the new A4’s graceful driving character comes from its decreased weight. American cars will be between 75 and 100 pounds lighter than the previous A4, depending on trim. Some of the biggest savings come from the brake system, where fixed aluminum calipers replace floating iron units for an 11-pound savings. The new A4’s forged aluminum suspension and the electromechanical steering rack shave a total of 35 pounds. Audi engineers found another 30 pounds or so by obsessing over small stuff throughout the car. The steering wheel rim, for instance,
is now magnesium. 

Spring 2016
$40,000 (est)
2.0L turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/252 hp @ 5,000-6,000 rpm, 273 lb-􏰲 @ 1,600-4,500 rpm 
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD sedan EPA MILEAGE: N/A
L X W X H:
186.1 x 72.5 x 56.2 in
111.0 in
3,329 lb
0-60 MPH:
5.6 seconds (est)
155 mph 
Audi A4 - Auto Business News

The diet plan comes despite more equipment than ever on the A4, as Audi hasn’t forgotten that technology is what sets it apart in this crowded segment. The optional Virtual Cockpit acts like your typical luxury sedan’s center console display: a brilliantly crisp (1440 x 540 pixel) and fast (60 frames per second) unit. The difference is that it is right in front of you and can be controlled from the steering wheel. The screen lets you access an impressive array of features, including Audi’s latest and greatest MMI interface, new apps, and detailed Google Earth maps, without reaching for and glancing at the center console.
The large, responsive center display (7-inch standard, 8.3-inch when equipped with navigation) added to Virtual Cockpit nets you nearly as much screen real estate as the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class, with even smarter features. On top of all that, there’s an
optional head-up display. It also has crisp graphics, smart alerts, and all the information you’d want in front of your eyes. In practice, it’s basically redundant given the Virtual Cockpit screen just below it.
The center console’s touch- sensitive controller allows for quick, intuitive, and scroll-free text inputs via its capacitive-touch upper surface. When scrolling does become necessary, it now scrolls the right way. Yes, that’s right, Audi has finally yielded to logic and stopped with the up-is-down nonsense.
The center screen won’t be completely redundant, either, as the passenger (or greedy driver) can use it to access not just the full suite of items available in the Virtual Cockpit but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well. Audi is also planning an expanded form of Audi Connect that will include emergency roadside service, smartphone lock/unlock and status reporting, and smartwatch app functions.
Driving the Audi A4 through the Italian countryside near Venice, we discovered for ourselves how this display can aid rather than distract from driving. We’re able to keep a map of the overall route on the center screen while scanning a zoomed-in map on our instrument cluster to find curvier, less trafficked roads. No more trying to futz around with a single display, cursing at your harried passenger’s incompetence as you speed through unfamiliar territory.
When we do hit congestion, traffic jam assist keeps the pixel-fueled party going with the ability to follow the lane and control the vehicle speed from a stop up to 40 mph. The lane- recognition system works as well as most others we’ve tested, which is to say it had some difficulty. (Mercedes retains the edge here.) The adaptive cruise control works flawlessly though. When the systems are working in concert, they take the bulk of the load off the driver in heavy-traffic situations. It’s worth at least 10 points off your blood pressure reading. You can even take your hands off the wheel for a handful of seconds.
You’ll save another 10 systolic points—and possibly a life—with the exit warning system, which leverages the A4’s blind-spot detection sensors to scan for traffic approaching from the rear when you exit the car. If the car detects a threat, it will alert the driver or passenger by flashing lights in the door. The system activates once the A4 is stopped, and it remains active for up to three minutes after the car is turned off. It’s a simple and obvious application of existing sensors and data, but its impact is potentially enormous. Brilliant.
In the U.S., much of the equipment mentioned above will be standard, in addition to a 4G LTE data connection and a rearview camera. Must-have features such as the Virtual Cockpit and navigation will be “priced to be easily accessible” to most buyers. Of course, buyers will have opportunities to lay down extra cash, such as for a 755-watt, 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system.
Audi hasn’t yet released U.S. pricing, but expect that information—plus U.S. trims, features, and other details—closer to the car’s launch next spring.
No matter the final spec sheets, however, with all that’s offered the Audi A4 makes a truly compelling case for your luxury sedan dollar. Is it smart? Sure. Fun? Without question. Boring? Never. 

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