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Kelley Blue Book ® - 2002 Audi A4 Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2002 Audi A4 Overview

A4 Effort

In 1995, Audi introduced the A4 to the U.S. market and almost overnight reinvented the entry-level sport sedan segment. Car enthusiasts and competitors alike marveled at the A4's seductive styling, powerful turbo-charged four-cylinder engine and high level of content and materials. This standard still exists today, with both domestic and foreign manufacturers publicly citing Audi as their benchmark for interior design. Never content to rest on their hands, Audi has redesigned the A4 to be larger, more luxurious and more powerful; it also now shares the visual DNA of the TT Coupe and larger A6 sedan.

The A4 line up consists of two trim levels: 1.8T and 3.0. The base model A4 is still powered by Audi's superb 1.8-liter turbo-charged engine and comes with a standard 5-speed manual transmission; a five-speed automatic with tiptronic shifting is optional as is a revolutionary new transmission called a CVT (continuously variable transmission). The top-of-the-line A4 is now the 3.0, which is powered by a new, more robust V6 engine and includes many more amenities as standard equipment; it also features a 6-speed manual transmission. Both the 1.8T and the 3.0 are available with Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive system.

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of test-driving both cars before making your final purchase decision. If you like the price of the 1.8T, but hold to the widely held belief that a four-cylinder engine cannot compare to a V6, the 1.8T may very well force you to rethink all you thought you knew about small displacement engines.

Changes to the A4 are numerous; the car is over two inches longer, with a wider stance, longer wheelbase and more weight. As a result, rear seat passengers now enjoy a much-needed increase in legroom. On front-wheel drive models, the rear suspension has been upgraded from a twist-beam solid axle (think of a broom handle with a wheel at each end) to a trapezoidal rear-end that allows each rear wheel to negotiate road surfaces more freely, less controlled by the other. All A4s now have larger wheels and tires and offer optional 17-inch sport alloys as part of a performance-handling package. Power for the 1.8T rises to 170 horsepower while its emissions are reduced, making it the first turbo-charged gas engine to be certified as a ULEV. The new 3.0-liter V6 churns up a total of 220 horsepower and sees an increase in both torque and lowered emissions.

A really hot item on this year's A4 is the optional CVT automatic. Available only on front-wheel drive models, the CVT replaces the traditional transmission gear set with a chain belt and two expandable pulleys. CVTs are more efficient than regular transmissions because they permit the engine's maximum torque and horsepower to be made available at all speeds. No more winding up the gearbox to get power or downshifting to pass. The Audi CVT takes a little getting used to and is not as much fun to drive as the manual or even the tiptronic 5-speed auto. It does, however, increase the fuel efficiency of the car and with less moving parts to worry about, will probably be less troublesome as the vehicle gets older.

The A4 interior is stunning, with high-quality leathers, wood, faux leatherette and soft-touch plastics. Brilliantly sharp red LEDs backlight just about every imaginable piece of switchgear and add to the overall feeling of quality and durability. Unlike the original A4, the new A4 seems to have lost some of its more sporting characteristics—like the cool rolodex-style air vents and the nicely-bolstered sport-seat option. Luxury seems to be the prevailing theme for the new A4—even on the most basic model. A small sampling of the standard A4 equipment list includes dual-zone climate control, one-touch up/down power windows at all locations, power door locks, cruise control, 3-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel and a 150-watt sound system with 6-disc in-dash CD changer; and that's just the tip of the iceberg. It should be noted that while many cars have the same equipment list, Audi's technology seems to take each option one step beyond its normal function. For example, many cars have selective locking programs that allow you to unlock one or all the doors using only the key inserted into the driver's-side door lock. The Audi's key not only locks and unlocks the doors, it can also raise or lower the windows and close the optional sunroof. Pretty slick.

You'll find little to quibble with when it comes to performance. The A4's ride is smooth and stable and its handling is pretty good with the standard front-wheel drive (Audi calls it FrontTrac) and down right mind boggling with the Quattro option. Turn in—the time it takes for the car to respond to steering wheel input—is not as quick as that of the A4's closest rival, the BMW 3-Series, but it is definitely on par with the Mercedes C-Class and leaps and bounds above most other competitors.

Nitpicks for the new A4 are relatively minor—and admittedly subjective—but we'd be remiss if we did not mention them. The doors seemed to require more effort than usual to close completely; the headlight angle causes the light dispersal pattern to end abruptly in front of the car, as though the light beam had just fallen off a cliff; and the climate controls are located down low on the console, partially blocked by the shifter.

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