Sedans & Coupes

The 2021 Audi A4 Is More of a Good Thing

The A4 has come some way in the last few years. One of Audi’s most affordable models went from a Consumer Reports ‘never buy’ to a reliable, recommended entry-level luxury car. And for 2021 the Audi A4 gets several updates big and small. So, how have these changes affected it?

What’s new and what carries over in the 2021 Audi A4?

A blue 2021 Audi A4 drives on a road
2021 Audi A4 | Audi

In 2020 Audi updated the A4’s looks and infotainment system but didn’t touch the powertrain. In contrast, the 2021 A4’s powertrain is arguably the biggest difference between it and the 2020 model.

For 2021 every Audi A4 and A5 trim comes standard with all-wheel drive, Car and Driver reports. Each model, except for the S4/S5, also gets a power boost and a new 12-volt mild-hybrid system. As a result, the base 2021 Audi A4 40’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder makes 201 hp, Autotrader reports. And in the 2021 A4 45, that engine makes 261 hp. Both models have the same transmission, a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic.

The Audi A4’s 2020 update gave it a larger touchscreen and improved voice-control functionality, MotorTrend reports. The 2021 model, like the 2020 one, has standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The 2021 Audi A4's blue-lit front seats and dashboard
2021 Audi A4 interior | Audi

However, the new A4 has wireless Apple CarPlay as standard, MT reports, as well as lane-departure warning, heated front seats, adjustable ambient lighting, and an integrated toll transponder. And the Premium Plus trim, the middle of the three available, now has standard adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and a 360° camera system, Car and Driver reports. This trim also comes with wireless charging, blind-spot monitoring, and a digital gauge cluster. Though if you want standard heated rear seats, you’ll have to go for the range-topping Prestige trim.

The 2021 Audi A4 “advances a proven formula,” Car and Driver says

While the 2021 Audi A4’s updates aren’t drastic, they didn’t have to be, Car and Driver reports. Rather, to quote, they’re “more proof that, in the right hands, much can be made of little.” Indeed, the 2021 Audi A4 out-paced its German rivals in Consumer Reports’ recent testing.

While the mild-hybrid system only adds about 13 hp, Audi may be understating the 2021 A4’s capabilities. In Car and Driver’s hands, the A4 45 went 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds, 0.4 seconds faster than the factory estimate. And with the optional summer tires, the sedan handles and grips well. But the suspension isn’t overly stiff; it “finds a happy place between a comfortable ride and adept handling,” Kelley Blue Book reports. Plus, even though it isn’t the sporty S4 model, the A4’s brakes resist fade very well.

A gray-brown 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan
2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class | Mercedes-Benz

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Inside, the 2021 Audi A4 isn’t as quiet as, say, a Mercedes S-Class. Though that’s expected, given an A4 40 Premium starts at $39,100. However, it’s quieter than the equivalent BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class, Car and Driver reports. The A4’s seats are also comfortable, and the dashboard switchgear is both stylish and “substantial to the touch,” Car and Driver reports.  

Does it have any weaknesses?

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There are a few drawbacks to the 2021 Audi A4. One is a consequence of its size: namely, a small back seat, KBB reports. And Car and Driver notes that 6’-tall adults can have trouble entering and exiting the back seat. However, CR notes that this isn’t an uncommon complaint with compact sedans.

Also, while the 2021 A4’s infotainment has a clean overall design, there are fewer hard controls than before. Part of the 2020 update involved removing the control knob, which some may not appreciate, Car and Driver reports.

A gray 2021 Genesis G70
2021 Genesis G70 | Genesis

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Plus, while the A4’s ADAS suite is extensive, some of its competitors offer more standard safety features. The 2021 Genesis G70, for example, has all of the 2021 A4 Premium’s ADAS features, plus standard adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring. And the G70 starts at $36,000.

Still, if you were considering a 2020 Audi A4, the 2021 model refines what made it good.

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