When a model is in its final year before replacemrnt by a new generation—as the 2015 Audi A4 is now—a carmaker has two choices. It can whistle past the graveyard and hope nothing bad happens. Or it can aggressively court buyers with special packages, or make previously optional equipment and trim standard.
For the 2015 Audi A4, the carmaker chose the latter course. The A4 is Audi’s most popular model and important to the Audi’s overall revenue, so letting it ride would hardly seem the best option. So after last year having made S line exterior trim standard on A4 Premium and Prestige models, Audi reaches out to potential purchasers of the 2015 A4 by making the S line package standard across the board.
Audi’s assorted packages overlap and combine in a way that would take a brigade of corporate lawyers to figure out what comes with what on what particular car and how it’s all priced. Start with the window sticker below to see if you can make sense of it. But without going into mind numbing intracranial contortions, the S line package includes exterior bits including S line front and rear bumpers, door sills, and body-colored door sill blades beneath doors
Inside the S line includes three-spoke flat-bottom steering wheel (with shift paddles on automatic transmission models), brushed aluminum decorative inlays, S line embossed Alcantara/leather sport seats with four-way power lumbar support, and a black cloth headliner.
In addition to making the S line universal for the 2015 A4, along with a number of other features Audi also makes the 60/40 split fold rear seat, headlight washer system, and three-zone climate control standard on all A4 models.
Meanwhile, the Audi A4 continues with the superb turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder engine that’s rated at 220 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Get used to talking about torque. While horsepower is a measure of what gets done, torque is what moves you, and torque has a field day with the Audi A4. The 2015 A4 performs more like a three-liter V-6 than a two-liter four. And with a broad spread of torque, it doesn’t have to be spinning at the top of its rev range to get acceleration. Turn on the thrusters. The A4 is ready to blast off.
Our test A4 was equipped with Audi’s Tiptronic eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s paddle-shifted, and although if can be left in full automatic mode, we don’t recommend it. There’s nothing wrong with the automatic mode. It just seems like a waste of paddles and a missed opportunity to play with the aforementioned engine.
No doubt that’s what those who specify the six-speed manual transmission get as well, but we can’t comment on the feel and operation of the do-it-yourself gearbox, we’ll note that it’s one of a shrinking breed. You know who and the other guy too don’t have it. Choose accordingly.
Audi, of course, is famous for its quattro all-wheel drive, and in fact, the Tiptronic automatic and the manual transmissions are available only with that drivetrain. However, those with a less sporty driving attitude, and in sunshine states and who don’t mind front wheel drive (and the better fuel economy that comes with it) can get a front drive Audi A4, but it’s available only with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
For those who haven’t driven an A4 in some time, it’s grown. The new Audi A3 sedan measures within an inch of the three major exterior dimensions of the A4 of ten years ago, and the A4 is commensurately larger.
The increased exterior size is reflected in the interior. The overall volume of the back seat area is not only greater, legroom is maximized with carved-out front seatbacks for better knee room, and generous toe room under the front seats makes the most of the space available. Getting those number nines inside is a challenge however, with limited space between the seat and B-pillar.
Up front, the sport seats formerly optional as part of the S line package but now standard are well bolstered to live up to their name, though unlike some sport seats, comfort is not limited to the dinky of derriere.
The dash is what copywriters usually call driver-centric. It’s not so much split by a center stack but rather all the gauges and controls are covered under a single hood. The major gauges are classic white on black with red needles, separated by a full color driver information display. The center multi-information display has a screen that’s controlled by a twist knob on the center console with four buttons around it that select major functions. It’s largely intuitive although due for an update to keep up with the state of the art. By not being a touch screen, it can be high and far enough away for easy viewing without a lot of eye focus changing, important for the bifocal crowd but helpful for everyone else.