It was once a Consumer Reports ‘never buy,’ but the Audi A4 is now CR’s best compact luxury sedan. It’s also one of the most reliable Audis on sale today. But with the growing competition in the affordable luxury segment, the Audi A4 and its platform-mate, the A5, can’t sit on their laurels. Which is why, for 2021, like several other Audis, they’re getting an update.
What’s new for the 2021 Audi A4 and A5?
The Audi A4 and A5 were already refreshed for the 2020 model year, Autoblog reports. However, that was more about looks and infotainment than their powertrains. The 2021 model year update, though, rectifies that.
The 2021 Audi A4 and A5 lineups still have a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, Car and Driver. But now it’s joined by a 12-volt mild-hybrid system and standard all-wheel-drive across the board. The base 40 TFSI models now have 201 hp, Autotrader reports, and the 45 TFSI ones have 261 hp.
The Audi A4 sedan and A5 Sportback hatchback are available in both 40 TFSI and 45 TFSI form. The A5 coupe and cabriolet and the A4 Allroad wagon, though, only offer the latter. Regardless of trim, the only transmission available is a 7-speed dual-clutch.
The mild-hybrid system isn’t the only thing updated about the 2021 Audi A4 and A5, though. Both lineups offered standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay before; but now, they have wireless Apple CarPlay. Lane-departure warning is now also standard, Motor1 reports, as is a built-in toll pass transponder. Plus, the Convenience Package now offers both a heated steering wheel and front and rear parking sensors.
As before, the 2021 Audi A4 and A5 models are available in 3 trims: Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige. For 2021, though, Premium Plus models have standard adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and a top-view camera system. And the Prestige now has standard heated rear seats.
2021 Audi A4 and A5 pricing and availability
The Audi A4 and A5 aren’t the only models getting a hybrid update. The S6 already received a mild-hybrid powertrain for 2020. Meanwhile, the updated A3 is already available in Europe, the US version will be a 2022 model, Motor1 reports. However, it too has a mild-hybrid powertrain.
The 2021 Audi A4 and A5 are slightly more expensive than the 2020 models, Autoblog reports. The 40 TFSI Quattro Premium A4 starts at $39,100; the 45 TFSI Quattro Prestige starts at $49,800. The Allroad is roughly $5000 more. The 40 TFSI Quattro Premium A5 Sportback, meanwhile, starts at $41,800; the 45 TFSI Quattro Prestige starts at $53,750. The A5 Coupe’s trims cost similar to the Sportback’s 45 TFSI trims. The cabriolet, though, is $6000-$8000 more.
How does the competition compare?
The Audi A4’s German luxury rivals are the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the BMW 3 Series. A pre-facelift A4 beat both in Motor Trend’s entry-level luxury comparison, offering more value and a higher-quality ride. All 3, though, lost to the Alfa Romeo Giulia, which is less reliable overall than the A4.
However, since then the 3 Series has been updated and beat the Giulia in Car and Driver’s comparison. Also, BMW now offers a plug-in hybrid 3 Series, the 330e. And the upcoming C-Class looks to be a full make-over from the previous model, Motor1 reports. Plus, unlike the A4 or A5, the C-Class and 3 Series can be ordered in RWD or AWD form.
Also, the Audi A4 now faces competition from the Koreans, in the form of the 2022 Genesis G70 and Kia Stinger. The latter, with its hatchback design, is also an A5 Sportback rival, MT reports. The update, which brings updated infotainment and higher-quality materials, may make choosing between the two even more difficult. And, as with the A4’s and A5’s German rivals, the G70 and Stinger offer both RWD and AWD.
Finally, there’s the 2021 Lexus IS, which is available in RWD and AWD, too. It will have more powerful powertrains than the A4 or A5, MT reports. And the 2021 update is focused on improving its handling, which gave the Giulia its edge in MT’s comparison. Plus, it offers slightly larger optional touchscreens than the Audis, Car and Driver reports.
The 2021 Audi A4 and A5, though, seem well-equipped for the imminent luxury head-to-head.
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