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2012 Audi A4 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Audi A4 was new.


Performance: 8.4

The A4 is a bit less powerful than rivals like the BMW 3-Series and Cadillac CTS. However, reviewers tend to focus on two pieces of optional equipment that pull the A4 into the top rank of performance sedans: its available all-wheel drive system and Audi Drive Select, which allows the driver to tailor the A4’s adaptive suspension, steering, transmission shift points and throttle response. When so equipped, the A4 is among the finest sport sedans available at this price point.

  • "Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system in this application has a torque split of 40/60, front to rear. This rear-biased design gives the A4 dynamics that are closer to a rear-wheel-drive car in addition to enhanced traction on both dry and slippery surfaces." -- Cars.com
  • "While we'll rarely (if ever) turn down an abundance of horsepower and torque, we also appreciate a car that hits that elusive sweet spot of power and efficiency. Among entry-level luxury sedans, the 2012 Audi A4 is one such car." -- Edmunds 
  • "I had several opportunities to test the A4's abilities in snow, and, with the help of its Continental winter tires, the Audi passed with flying colors - and allowed me to pass slower traffic easily, safely, and quickly." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "Its track performance also translated well in real-world spirited driving on canyon roads in and around Malibu. The A4 never felt underpowered (again, as long as the engine was singing in the midrange) and steering was precise, though a bit light." -- Motor Trend 
  • "Regardless of transmission or drivetrain, the A4 continues to be among the most fuel-efficient luxury-branded sedans on the market, bettering alternatives such as the BMW 328i and Infiniti G25 Sedan, each of which offers considerably less torque than the Audi." -- Kelley Blue Book 

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 Audi A4 only offers one power plant: a 2.0 liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine that makes 211 horsepower. However, reviewers frequently state that the A4’s ample torque makes this upscale midsize car more potent than you might think. A few reviewers note, however, that the four-cylinder doesn’t purr like the 2010 model’s optional V6, and it transmits vibrations through the steering wheel.

Front-wheel drive models come with Audi’s Multitronic continuously variable transmission, while A4’s with quattro all-wheel drive are available with either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission.

According to the EPA, the 2012 Audi A4 gets 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway when equipped with front-wheel drive and the CVT. Quattro models get 21/29 mpg and 21/31 mpg city/highway when equipped with automatic or manual transmissions, respectively.

  • "Our testers are divided on the car's 8-speed automatic transmission. Most agree that it delivers smooth shifts, but some cite a lack of response when quick downshifts are needed to summon more power." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "The A4 manages to meet and even beat its base-model competitors when it comes to acceleration and fuel economy." -- Edmunds 
  • "No matter how many times I drive an Audi A4 2.0T, I still wind up double-checking to confirm that I am, in fact, sitting behind a four-cylinder engine and not some excellent six-cylinder." -- Automobile Magazine 
  • "Throttle response was a bit laggy, especially when blipping the gas pedal during downshifts." -- Motor Trend 
  • "Complementing the A4's chassis is a turbocharged engine that is virtually free of lag, and with peak torque available at only 1,500 rpm, allows for grin-inducing acceleration when the light turns green. Best of all, you'll get up to 31 mpg in the process." -- Kelley Blue Book 

Handling and Braking

Audi has a long-standing reputation for strong performance on twisting roads, and the 2012 A4 continues to please reviewers with its competent handling. Even stripped-down models are agile, but with the available all-wheel drive system, which sends 60 percent of power to the rear wheels under normal conditions, the A4 is one of the most balanced and enthusiastic handlers available. The automotive press loves the A4’s precise cornering and handling.

  • "A4 and S4 are true drivers' cars. Steering is nicely weighted and direct. A4 adeptly balances around-town maneuverability with sporty road manners." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "The 2012 Audi A4's handling is neutral and secure, even more so when the car is equipped with all-wheel drive. Drivers with a penchant for performance will likely find the added athleticism of the Sport package to their liking, though ride quality suffers (especially if it's combined with the 19-inch wheels)." -- Edmunds 
  • "The A4 also performed admirably in our brake test, needing only 110 feet to stop from 60." -- Motor Trend 
  • "Slide behind the leather-wrapped, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, cozy up with the bolstered seats, and the 2011 Audi's A4 sporting intentions become evident. Put the whole package into motion and discover a slightly stiff ride around town, which thankfully translates into tight and predictable handling on winding back roads." -- Kelley Blue Book 

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