Donning space-age-style safety helmets, more than 40 fleet professionals track-tested the new Audi 2009 A4 handling and ride at a recent Audi Corporate Sales event at the Sonoma, Calif., Infineon Raceway.
The group also evaluated the A4 against competitor models on a slalom course and road-tested the mid-size sedan through the hills of Sonoma’s wine country.
Sportier Dimensions in Design
Audi bills the 2009 A4 as the sportiest in its segment, with an all-new dynamic suspension, longer, wider, and lower dimensions, and lighter weight. At 185.5 inches in overall length, the A4 boosts passenger space and provides just under 17 cubic feet of standard trunk space. Additionally, the front axle has been moved forward to further enhance flexibility and handling.
Available at U.S. dealerships this fall, the A4 sedan is launched with a 3.2L V-6 FSI engine and Quattro AWD that consumes an average 13-percent less fuel than preceding models. Also offered is an all-new 2.0 TFSI four-cylinder, expected to achieve a 15-percent improvement in fuel efficiency. Both engines are available with a new Tiptronic six-speed automatic transmission; a six-speed manual is available with the 2.0 TFSI sedan.
New optional technologies offered include variable ratio dynamic steering and Drive Select, a driver customizable system that varies engine, transmission, steering and suspension.
The sales event attendees found much to like in the new A4. Don Sedia, senior director, facilities & fleet for Barr Laboratories, “very much enjoyed the handling, design, and overall performance of the vehicle.”
Barr Labs is considering adding the A4 to its executive selector. “Although the A4 is a sophisticated vehicle, it is still understated. Many execs enjoy the privilege of driving an exec fleet vehicle, yet do not want to seem as if they are taxing their company with an unreasonably high-end vehicle expense,” said Sedia. “The Audi is perceived as, and may be able to provide, that privilege within reason.”
Cox Enterprises currently offers the A4 with the 2.0 turbo engine in its executive fleet to accommodate a corporate goal to reduce its carbon imprint, according to Roger Turner, senior fleet coordinator.
“Our executives can get good fuel economy and still have sports performance in their vehicle. As a result, I expect to add some 2009 Audi A4 2.0T vehicles to our fleet. Other bonus features for me include the A4 interior design, the extra rear leg room, and the ability to change to different driving modes,” said Turner.