2019 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro S Tronic: The styling may not wow you ... but driving it just might.
Price: $51,250 as tested. The trim level starts at $40,500; Navigation and Telematics Package adds $3,000, and Black Optics Plus Package, $1,450. More is mentioned below.
Marketer's pitch: "Go on, you've earned it."
Conventional wisdom: Consumer Reports likes the "strong and fuel-efficient engine, ideal ride-and-handling balance, modern interior," but not the "costly driver-assistance features, status-quo styling."
What's new: The four-door sedan got a redo for 2017 and just gets some updates the last two years. I tested a 2018, which is the same except for a few new features.
Up to speed: The horsepower rating is down four clops from 2018, though, to 248. Still, it's a sure bet the 2.0-liter four cylinder still moves the vehicle quickly. Pulling the shift lever back to sport mode made for even faster acceleration; Car and Driver rates the 0-60 time at 5.2 seconds.
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In all modes, though, the A4 is rather low-key until it is pushed. The acceleration is gentle until the driver plants his foot firmly, and then things really begin to blur. Perhaps I needed more time to adjust, but even after a week, I couldn't stop feeling a moment's hesitation before the A4 responded, and then felt that it overcompensated, like a 5-foot-10 columnist sometimes calling himself 5-11 (depends on the shoes!).
On the road: The A4 just feels so nice. Its handling is competent and the ride is comfortable with just a bit of stiffness. Adjustable drive modes add to the experience. The Sport Package ($750) adds sport suspension, and Black Optics Wheel Package ($800) puts 19-inch wheels and summer tires on the feet -- but I wasn't able to compare the handling of a less tricked-out A4.
Still, while the Alfa Giulia invites the driver to start sliding through turns almost immediately, the A4 keeps things more under control.
Shifty: The seven-speed S Tronic automatic allows for shift capability through the shift lever or the steering wheel paddles. Shifting movement feels smooth and confident.