In the mid-1980s, Audi delivered one of the slickest sedans the U.S. market had ever seen. The Audi 5000 was an aerodynamic wonder, with extraordinarily good looks, a nice level of standard equipment, and an aura of exclusivity. Adopted in large numbers by drivers looking for something new and fresh in luxury market, the Audi 5000 became a big hit—until…
Reports of the Audi surging uncontrollably when put into gear immediately after starting—even when the brake pedal was firmly depressed—became widespread. The CBS network’s investigative news show “60 Minutes” did a report, resulting in the Audi being almost universally considered at fault for the situation, even though NHTSA engineers never found anything wrong with any of the cars they examined.
Predictably, (just as we’ve seen recently with Toyota) sales plummeted. So badly in fact, Audi considered leaving the U.S market altogether. Before it did though, in 1996, the company introduced a reworked version of the then smallest car in their American lineup. The new car, labeled A4, delivered a combination of good looks, impressive performance and a handsome interior. This car attracted new, positive attention to the Audi marque and is credited by many with reversing the fortunes of the company in this market.
Today, one of the most coveted symbols of success for young executives, the Audi A4 delivers a nice combination of luxury and sportiness in a comfortably-sized package, without a great deal of ostentation. To date, there have been four generations of the A4.