Audi A4: B9 Generation Is the Best and Most Reliable

Like Audi itself within the US market, the A4 model has been through many ups and downs over the years. Examples from the early 2000s were notoriously problematic, but the vehicle has improved significantly since 2017. In fact, Consumer Reports has not only recommended the B9 A4, but rated it higher than its more popular SUV sibling, the Q5.

Is the Audi A4 reliable?

Not only is the current B9 generation incredibly reliable overall, but it’s one of the most dependable compact luxury sedans on the market. Starting in 2018, Consumer Reports has given the A4 its best 5/5 rating for Overall Reliability. A key factor is the well-proven 2.0-liter TFSI engine, which has been continuously updated since 2006.

For 2021, Audi unveiled a 12-volt mild-hybrid setup for the 2.0T motor, which adds a new electric variable. While that doesn’t necessarily mean the new engine will be any less reliable, the additional complexity could lead to problems as the 2021 models get older. Or it might not.

Since the Q5 shares the same engine, it should theoretically be reliable too, right? Consumer Reports doesn’t seem to think so. They gave the 2021 Q5 a 3/5 for predicted reliability, and the 2020 Q5 received a 2/5. Clearly, there are other components of the Q5 that bring its score down. Yet, Audi has sold over twice as many Q5s as A4s over the past few years.

Is the B9 A4 fun to drive?

If you like sedans with a near-perfect balance of performance, all-weather capability, and ride comfort, the latest A4 is hard to beat for the price. From the factory, a B9-chassis A4 can keep up with sports cars on a mountain road, yet be luxurious and practical as a daily vehicle. With quattro all-wheel drive, it can also do that in the rain, sleet, snow, or dry weather.

The B9-chassis was even available with a six-speed manual transmission until the end of the 2018 model year. Thankfully, the A4’s seven-speed dual-clutch is so good that most drivers will rarely miss having a clutch pedal. With a DSG gearbox, you can really have the best of both worlds. Manual engagement via flappy paddles or the gear selector is available when you want that experience. But traffic jams are much nicer with an automatic, and especially Audi’s twin-clutch. If you must have the manual trans in your B9 A4, you’ll need to scour the market for a 2017 or 2018.

Are there any drawbacks?

Audi A4 sedan on display at Brussels Expo on January 9, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium
Audi A4 sedan on display at Brussels Expo on January 9, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium | Sjoerd van der Wal via Getty Images

Not many, actually. The body design is boring, according to some in the automotive media establishment. But many enthusiasts like to fly under the radar, and will have no problem with that. If turning heads in a small sedan is your mission, then go for a purple RS3 or an Alfa Romeo Giulia instead. The backseat and trunk of the A4 are a bit cramped when compared to a crossover SUV. Integrating the long-wheelbase that Audi offers in China to create a theoretical A4L wagon (or Avant) could solve those problems. But then you’d basically end up with a lowered Q5, only better.

In summary, the B9 is Audi’s A4 at its best, with a solid powertrain and driving dynamics that transcend its decidedly subdued exterior. So the only question that remains: When will we see the A4 e-tron? Since Audi has announced they won’t be developing any more internal combustion engines, an all-electric A4 could arrive very soon indeed.

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