After test driving the 2012 Audi A4 Quattro for 7 days, I had one word that pretty much summed up everything about this car – “tight.” From the exterior body panels to the interior knobs and controls to the smooth, yet powerful engine, every little aspect of the A4 Quattro maps to this word. I really enjoyed my time with this vehicle and it was definitely hard to part with it.
The model that I tested was the S-Line/Prestige model which is a 6-speed manual transmission (much to the dismay of my wife who couldn’t give it a test drive) so I was able to monopolize the A4 for a full 7 days. This was the first time I had ever driven an Audi and wasn’t sure what to expect. The engine is turbocharged and it’s an all-wheel drive. Gas mileage is estimated at 21 city and 31 highway. I averaged about 23-25 mpg for a combination of driving types which is decent for a performance vehicle like this.
From the exterior, the A4 was pretty unassuming, my model being a bright, clean “Ibis white” color on the outside and the interior carefully cloaked in luxurious black “S-line” leather. From the second I reached for the handle on the A4 and had the door automatically unlock simply because I had the keyless keyfob in my pocket to racing on down the road, quickly shifting smoothly through the gears, I knew that I was going to like this vehicle.
Before diving into some of the details, please take a few minutes to watch this 11-minute review of the 2012 Audi A4 Quattro (also available directly on YouTube):
The A4 itself is a very comfortable car. It housed my family of five without cramping or people fighting for leg room. The driver’s side seat had numerous control to dial your seat into a setting that was perfect to drive. This includes the heated front seats and the 4-way lumbar support for the driver. There is also dual front climate controls for the driver and passenger as well as a rear passenger control.
With the ample space in the interior for the passengers doesn’t mean that the cargo/trunk space is limited. Quite the opposite, there is a ton of space in the trunk for all of your luggage and gear.
The A4 Prestige package brings a variety of features that warrant the extra price including:
- The Audi MMI navigation system
- A Bang & Olufsen Sound system
- Heated front seats
- Driver information system with trip computer
- Split-folding rear seatback for pass-through storage from the large trunk
- Adaptive, Xenon plus front headlights with LED Daytime Running Lights
- Rear parking audible
- Auto-dimming interior and exterior mirrors
The S-Line Plus & Sport packages add:
- 19-inch 5-arm Rotor-designed summer tires
- S-line leather/Alcantara sport seats
- Brushed aluminum inlays
- Front sport seats w/ 4-way power lumbar support
- 3-spoke steering wheel
- Sports suspension
Let’s go into some highlights of things that I particularly liked about the Audi A4.
For starters, I absolutely love the exterior lighting. This includes how the blinkers are incorporated into the side-view mirrors:
Similarly, a trademark of Audio are the curved Daytime Running Lights which I configured through the console to have on always. This is a signature design that I believe other car manufacturers have started to copy as well.
Included within the lighting aspect of the Audio are the blind spot indicators which I found to be unique to the Audi. With other vehicles I have tested, the indicators typically are simple orange dots that appear in the side-view mirrors. The Audi A4 is different. For starters, there is a switch to turn on and off the indicators next to the driver’s side-view mirror. It took me some time to discover this but once I did, it was always on.
The indicator itself is more of a grouping of orange lights. One nice thing is that the safety feature seems to only be active when you are traveling at faster speeds. If a vehicle comes into a blind spot, the indicator glows orange which, unlike other vehicles, is hard to miss. If you choose to ignore the light and put on your turn indicator and start to pull into a lane that has a vehicle in your blind spot, the glowing orange light blinks frantically and you get an audible alert as well. I believe this to be one of the best implementations of this safety technology.
Another unique feature is the keyless keyfob which allows you to not only easily enter the vehicle by just grabbing the handle (assuming you have the keyfob in your pocket), but also, you can start the car using the push button starter, OR, you can actually insert the keyfob into a slot and push it in to start the vehicle. This slot also holds the keyfob in place (see the video above for a demo of how that works).
One feature that my kids liked a lot and commented on was the fact that all 4 windows are automatic down and up. There is no need to hold the window button to lower or raise the window. It’s the little things that count. Similarly, there is a nice design choice for the sunroof. There is a dial on the roofline that lets you have very granular control as to how much you want the sunroof to be open – twist the dial one slot, and the sunroof opens partially, twist it all the way and it fully opens.
Lastly, let’s talk about the car tech. This is probably the only area where it took me some time to fully understand. For starters, the control display is NOT touchscreen. This is probably good because it would be hard to reach from the driver or passenger side. Instead, Audi elected to fully control the tech of the A4 via a combination of a jog dial and buttons that correspond to different areas on the screen. This is the main control (down at the bottom portion below the shifter):
For more details as to how the controls work with the display, please be sure to view the video above. Essentially though, you use the combination of the jog dial, the 4-quadrant buttons, the functions buttons like NAV, INFO, CAR, SETUP, RADIO, MEDIA, NAME and TEL to get to the features that you want. The volume for audio is located next to the shifter, easy for a passenger to access as well as on the steering wheel.
The navigation is relatively easy to use, but the voice prompts are very mechanical and a bit sterile compared to other vehicles I have tested, but it definitely worked fine. There is also voice recognition that you can use for some hands-free commands.
After driving about 7 days in the Audi A4 Quattro, I definitely got my muscle memory used to this new type of way to control the aspects of the vehicle and I actually grew to like it a lot. As I said, it does take some time to understand and learn but once you do, it’s quite easy to use.
The 2012 Audi A4 Quattro has a base MSRP of $33,300 which is quite reasonable for this type of performance vehicle, but if you really want to experience some fun with great performance in a luxurious setting, you need to add in some other packages. As I mentioned, the particular vehicle that I tested had the A4 Prestige package, the S-line package and the Sport package which added a considerable amount to the total vehicle cost, bringing the MSRP to $45,675, almost $12,000 more than the base model.
One way or another, I kept coming back to the same word through my testing of the A4 – tight. The A4 styling was impeccably designed, unassuming yet elegant. The performance was stellar – not only quite fast off the line and having tight handling but also boasting pretty darn good gas mileage in the process. The ride was comfortable as I felt quite snug in the sports seats and cornering yet I could still feel the curves, contours and bumps in the road, really aiding the performance driving experience.
Overall, I give the 2012 Audi A4 Quattro pretty high marks as a balanced vehicle – combining elegant yet subdued design with quick off-the-line performance and handling.
Disclosure Text: Apart from the 7-day loan of the 2012 Audi A4 Quattro, I have not received any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein. More information can be found in my About page as well as here.
HTD says: The Audi A4 Quattro is a tightly designed car that has outstanding performance.