2021 Audi A4 review: No-nonsense, entry-level luxury
When a buyer first dips their toes into luxury sedans, they tend to start small. As a result, the compact luxury segment requires automakers to make a solid effort to get first-time buyers to come back for more. To that end, the 2021 Audi A4 brings a ton of kits to the table in an effort to stand out from the crowd.
- Comfortable and fun to drive
- Solid technology for consumers
I do not like
- Limited storage in both cabin and trunk
- Negligible change in fuel economy compared to the 2020 model
The most notable upgrade for the 2021 Audi A4 is the addition of a 12-volt lightweight hybrid system, as well as replacing the base front-wheel drive configuration in favor of AWD across the board. Both the base 40 and the high-performance 45 variant receive this upgrade, plus a small power boost, not that both versions necessarily need it. My tester packs the beefier version of the 2.0-liter turbocharged Audi I4, which now produces 261 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque.
The A4 45 may not be a true sports sedan like the spicier S4, but goodness, it can still get around. Between the mild-hybrid system and the engine’s reduced torque, this four-door will jump off the line like a dog that has just heard the word “out”, especially if I step out of the standard Comfort mode, which softens the throttle response to highlight a smooth and efficient driving. The mild-hybrid system does a great job in the background, helping to shut off the engine earlier on deceleration while restarting it smoothly. The seven-speed automatic is a bit slow to respond in certain situations, but otherwise happy to get out behind the scenes. Lightweight steering and easy-to-modulate pedals further enhance the experience.
The EPA rates the 2021 A4 45 at 24 miles per urban gallon and 31 mpg on the freeway, numbers I have no trouble reaching, even in rough winter conditions. The confusing thing is, however, the EPA rates the outgoing 2020 A4 with all-wheel drive at 32mpg on the highway, so … where are the gains from the light hybrid? Sure, light electrification adds perks like extending stop-start operation, but according to the Feds, that extra bit of mechanical complexity is a wash.
The ride in my tester is a little tough, but this is by design. Not only does this car include 19-inch alloy wheels ($ 800), which limit tire sidewall size and inhibit bad-road mitigation, it also rocks a $ 250 sports suspension that makes lively driving a little more engaging flattening the handling. Those looking for a more comfort-oriented ride will want to skip these packages, but don’t go too far in one direction; the experience is still sufficiently muted on good roads.
Even if you don’t specify larger wheels, there are still ways to fool the 2021 Audi A4. This car also carries the $ 500 Black Optic package, an affordable upgrade that ditches exterior chrome in favor of black trim. shiny. The 2020 update did wonders for the A4, giving it a much fresher face that pairs better with bigger offerings like the A6 and A8. It’s still anonymous, but low-key isn’t a bad thing; Plus, there are still fun flourishes here and there, like the miniature light show that takes place in the matrix-style LED headlights (part of the Prestige top trim) every time I lock or open the car.
The interior also does not escape the charging potential. For $ 500, Audi will put in a flat-bottomed steering wheel, aluminum trim, and sportier seats wrapped in leather and Alcantara suede. It’s a sharp little combination that adds a surprising amount of visual oomph for not a lot of money. The seats are supportive without being cramped, and heated suede or fabric always looks better in winter than cold leather. There’s plenty of room for my six-foot Gumby chassis up front, and the lack of a “sporty” roofline means the rear seats aren’t too shabby, although legroom is a bit tight.
My biggest complaint about the interior is about the storage space or lack of it. The 12-cubic-foot trunk is more than enough for one or two people, but it lags behind competitors from Mercedes-Benz and BMW, even if it’s only marginally. Interior stowage possibilities are also limited; my tall but not wide thermos has trouble fitting into small cup holders without snapping dashboard controls, and not even the door pockets are wide enough to handle it. The armrest folds out to reveal a small tray that’s fine for little more than a mask and phone, with the wireless charger taking up most of that space.
If the interior is good, the 2021 Audi A4’s cabin technology makes it great. All upholstery comes standard with a 10.1-inch touchscreen running the latest single-screen iteration of Audi’s MMI infotainment system, which includes wirelessis . I had great praise for the dual-screen version of this look when it first debuted, and the stripped-down version here doesn’t skimp on functionality, responsiveness, or aesthetics. It starts up quickly and takes very little getting used to. My Prestige trim tester also has USB ports for the rear seats, in addition to the two front ones. The Audi Virtual Cockpit, which replaces the instrument cluster with a 12.3-inch screen, arrives in the Premium Plus midtrim model and, as always, reduces distraction by offering navigation, audio and other information just below my usual level. eyes.
Audi has made sure to also load the A4 with many of its latest and greatest safety systems. The standard kit includes forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, while the upgrade to the Prestige trim level throws the most modern comforts into the mix, such as adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assistance, a bird’s eye view and parking sensors. While it’s very easy to keep this compact sedan between lines, whether on the freeway or in the local CVS parking lot, a little extra quiet goes a long way. Support Audi to have impressive resolution on its backup camera, to boot.
The 2021 Audi A4 starts out pretty affordable, with a base price of $ 40,145, which isn’t bad considering all that standard tech and now standard all-wheel drive. However, piling up options can make your window sticker goofy quickly. Featuring top-of-the-line Prestige finishes with a few add-ons, my review model raised its price out the door to $ 53,840, which is about a thousand miles off the price of a base A6 model. But with two engine options and three finishes, there is sure to be a middle ground that should satisfy most buyers.
Keeping up with the Joneses isn’t easy in the compact luxury sedan segment, but the 2021 A4 is doing a great job. The BMW 3 Series has recently been revamped and strikes a fair balance between soft and sporty, but I find the corporate interior uninspired and lacking in the quality and sophistication of A4. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a darn excellent luxury car, but its current version looks a little behind its times; however, this won’t be an issue in the foreseeable future as a new generation is slated to debut for model year 2022. The 2021 Audi A4 is in the right place at the right time with the right equipment, resulting in a small sedan luxury that does not skip the important things.