2017 Audi A4: Tomorrow’s Technology, Today!

The A4 has been refined for the 2017 model year. (Photos: Jack Kazmierski)

Audi pushes the technology envelope with the all-new A4.

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS: Park the all-new 2017 Audi A4 beside it’s older sibling, and the family resemblance is undeniable. That said, Audi has has done an excellent job updating this perennial favourite, inside and out, for 2017.

The exterior has been refined with a new grille, new lights, and an overall new physique. The lines are more crisp, and the shape is a bit more muscular. It’s still an A4, but refined.

Inside, the A4 was overhauled with a new dash, a new instrument layout, and an emphasis on ergonomics. All controls are within arm’s reach of the driver, and Audi engineers and designers have made sure the driver has access to almost all critical controls right on the steering wheel, or on the centre console, right under his right hand.

If you’re in the market for a vehicle that will excite upper management, rest assured the 2017 A4 will not disappoint. It performs as well as you would expect it to, it’s as comfortable on long road trips as you might think it is (we drove it 10 hours non-stop… except for fuel breaks), and it’s a blast to drive.

Technology

Now that we covered all the basics, let’s move on to what the all-new A4 is really about – technology. Audi has packed this sedan with the latest and greatest. Our tester was equipped with amenities like a Bang & Olufsen 3D Sound System with 19 speakers, a head-up display, and a next-generation infotainment system.

But what really knocked everyone’s socks off (quite a few people stopped us to take a closer look at what the A4 has to offer) was the virtual cockpit. It’s virtual because Audi replaced the analog dials and traditional instrument cluster with a 12-inch screen that displays a digital instrument array instead.

Think of it as a large screen that can be customized to display a broad range of information, including engine temperature, time, outside temp, tachometer, speedometer, phone status, fuel consumption, a map, GPS information, and so much more.

And while we’re on the topic of GPS, you can turn the entire 12-inch screen into a map. In other words, the driver has a huge map right in front of him, between the tach and speedometer, providing turn-by-turn instructions. Truly impressive!

Cruise control 2.0

Another highlight is the cruise control system. Set your speed, then set the distance you’d like to maintain between your car and the car in front of you, and the cruise control system will accelerate and slow down accordingly. In fact, it will even bring the A4 to a complete stop, without driver input, should the vehicle in front come to a complete stop in traffic.

But wait, there’s more. Once it brings you to a complete stop, it will ask you if you’d like to activate the “traffic congestion assist” system. Click a button, and the A4 will accelerate and slow down automatically in bumper-to-bumper traffic, so you don’t have to. And once the congestion clears up, it will accelerate back to the speed you originally set with the cruise control.

But wait, there’s more still! The A4 also reads traffic signs. That means it can tell what the speed limit is on a given stretch of road. Not only will it display the speed limit on the digital instrument cluster, and on the HUD for the driver to see, but it will also adjust the cruise control accordingly. So if you’ve got the cruise set to 100 km/hr in a 100 zone, and then suddenly the speed limit drops to 80 km/hr, in a construction zone, for example, the cruise control system will automatically bring the A4’s speed down to the new limit.

Driver assistance

Another exciting feature, albeit one we’re glad we did not have a chance to experience, is the Audi pre sense system, which detects trouble and reacts by preparing the vehicle and passengers for a possible collision.

It will close the side windows and sunroof, tighten seat belts and prepare the brakes for a quicker response from the driver. It also warns the driver of an imminent collision, and when necessary, can automatically initiate emergency braking.

The same technology can also monitor the vehicle following the A4, on the highway, for example, preparing the A4 and its occupants for a rear-end collision by tightening the belts and closing the windows and sunroof.

The A4 is also available with an innovative technology Audi calls “collision avoidance assist,” which determines when the driver is attempting an emergency maneuver (such as switching lanes to avoid a collision). The system computes a suitable path for the vehicle, and when the driver begins the maneuver, the system kicks in to help the driver stay on the desired path.

Then there’s “turn assist,” which helps the driver avoid a head-on collision when turning left at an intersection. If the driver doesn’t see the oncoming vehicle, the system can intervene to prevent the A4 from pulling in front of an oncoming car.

Fuel economy

Powered by a 2.0L TFSI four-cylinder gas engine coupled to a 7-speed automatic transmission, the A4 is currently available only with quattro all-wheel drive. A front-wheel drive version is in the works, and is supposed to be available in the near future.

The engine produces a delightful 252 hp, and 273 lb. ft. of torque, and thanks to Audi’s “drive select” technology, the driver can determine how to harness all those ponies. Audi select offers the following options: Comfort, Dynamic, Auto and Individual modes, with each mode adjusting engine response, gear shift points, steering calibration, and damper control accordingly, making the A4 more serene or more sporty.

The new engine is also surprisingly efficient. Packed with four adults and a trunk full of luggage, we were getting fuel consumptions numbers as good as 7.2 L/100 km on the highway. While that doesn’t put us into hybrid territory, it’s impressive for a vehicle that’s this much fun to drive.

The all-new 2017 Audi A4 has to be seen to be fully appreciated. If you’re contemplating adding one to your executive/upper management selector, do yourself a favour and get the top brass in your organization behind the wheel of the A4. They’ll thank you for it.

VEHICLE: 2017 Audi A4

PRICE: Starting at $43,200

PRICE AS TESTED: $57,300

ENGINE OPTIONS: 2.0 four-cylinder TFSI

TRANSMISSION: 7-speed S tronic

ENGINE/TRANSMISSION (AS TESTED): 2.0 TFSI, I-4 / 7-speed S tronic

FUEL ECONOMY (AS TESTED): 8.5 L/100 km (combined)

COMPETITION: BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C Class, Infiniti Q50

SELECTORS: Management

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