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Audi A4: truly A-class

BY RORY DALEY
Observer writer
daleyr@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, January 19, 2018

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THE 2017 Audi A4 S-line is ingenuity and elegance packed into an executive sedan.

From its inception in 1994, the Audi A4 was considered one of the most beautiful sedans in the world. While competition has heated up over its run of five generations, the vehicle has endured evolving with the time rather than wholesale reinvention. It's an Audi that proudly displays all the familial design cues of such, from its large front grille to its futuristic automotive lighting. In S-line trim it gains some of the aggressive traits of the high-performance variants above it.

Inside, the evolution of the A4 comes to the fore as, despite gaining some size over the previous model, it still manages to be around 200lb lighter. This means a larger interior for passenger comfort, while on the road it feels light. In S-line trim, one gets more of the brand's sporting heritage without sacrificing on the luxury. The cabin is liberally covered in high-quality materials, such as the diamond stitched leather S-line fully powered seats and cool, aluminium accents across the dashboard and centre console. Those equipped with four-wheel drive get a Quattro badge over the glove box, again to remind one of the car's ability and heritage, which are reinforced every time one grips the racy leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel of the S-line trim.

All major functions are handled through a multitude of controls, the central one being the Audi Multimedia Interface (MMI). It continues to be one of the best in the business, whether easily connecting and pumping out tunes from the USB inputs through the Bang & Olufsen stereo, handling phone calls via Bluetooth, or issuing voice commands from a press of the steering wheel buttons. The MMI reflects most of the same information on the screen, just as high resolution as the main, between the speedometer and tachometer.

Above that, a heads-up display throws basic important information in the direct line of sight of the driver. Buttons click, turn and swivel with Germanic assuredness. All that can be possibly automated is. Parking is just a press away. Turn the parking assist function on and signal left or right which direction one wants to park. Slow to a crawl and the car takes over scanning for spaces able to hold the A4. When one is found, the option to choose standard or parallel parking appears. Choose and the driver only has to operate the transmission into drive or reverse and the brakes. The A4 handles the steering to perfection, guiding the vehicle into place. At first it is unnerving, but after a while one comes to trust the automation.

Behind the wheel, the A4 is wonderfully “schizophrenic” — able to the play distinct roles when necessary. Slip into COMFORT mode and the sedan settles into a relaxing drive for everything from family hauling to de-stressing after a long work day. Drop into SPORT and the aforementioned motorsport heritage takes place. Using all of its 252 horsepower and all-wheel drive traction, the A4 is a rocket ship riding its meaty torque, providing a sweet soundtrack that echoes in the cabin when the sunroof is open. Smooth or aggressive, the A4 S-Line is willing to play, but it never gets rough. Acceleration happens in a linear wave facilitated by the seven-speed transmission that never gets caught off guard. From narrow twisty country lanes to high- velocity highways motoring the A4 is up to the task. The experience is best described as refined speed.

The 2017 A4 hauls cargo, human or otherwise, with sublime ease. It is truly a car for all seasons.

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