First Place: 2013 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro

2013 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro
2013 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro. Click image to enlarge

We’ve reviewed the 2013 A4 a few times on and have always come away impressed by it. We fully expected it to be a strong candidate in this competition, but did not anticipate it running away with the crown like it did.

The A4 began its quest for domination on the outside. All testers loved the A4’s stunning good looks, with the beautiful LED light treatment and S-Line wheels adding a sporty touch to the A4’s sophisticated appearance. Some fault Audi for never really deviating from the A4’s core design, but why fix what ain’t broke?
The Audi was also the most fun to drive amongst this threesome and was bested in driving dynamics only by an interloper that crashed the party; but more on that later. At the heart of the A4’s driving experience is Audi’s 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Rated at 211 hp, this engine felt more powerful than the BMW or the Mercedes even though those two are officially rated higher. The Audi’s eight-speed automatic also received much praise for its quick reacting shifts during spirited driving as well as the ability to transform into a smooth operator when highway cruising was preferred.

2013 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro
2013 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro
2013 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro. Click image to enlarge

The suspension is not the smoothest and was rated roughest of group. This doesn’t mean it is unlivable, but even in comfort mode the suspension is firmer than the other two; those looking for a buttery ride look elsewhere. Of course, the firm suspension pays off in excellent handling that was more confidence inspiring and neutral than the other two, but once again was bettered by that mystery guest. Steering feel was also tops in the category as both the BMW and Mercedes made the driver feel less connected to the road when driving.

But the A4 was not perfect; no car ever is. The interior received mixed reviews in several areas. Some found the fit and finish to be merely on par with the cheaper C 300 while others found it to be best in test. Some found the front seat too flat around the upper torso while others found it to be very comfortable. The infotainment interface and controls were yet another area that received both praise and criticism. Everyone could agree on rear seat space, though; for two people it was accommodating and nearly matched the Mercedes for best in test. However, the middle rear seat sits the highest and is rock hard, making it horribly uncomfortable, which is too bad as legroom and shoulder room are both decent.

In the end, the Audi proved to offer the best blend of everything shoppers in the compact luxury segment are looking for. It was more aesthetically pleasing than the 328i, more inviting for passengers than the C 300 and sportier than either to drive. The A4 is just one of those cars that seems to excel at everything it does. In this trio of Germans, it was enough to claim victory, and now, it will set its sights on the best the world has to offer. –MS

Pricing: 2013 Audi A4 Premium Plus
Base price: $47,400
Options: $3,400 (S Line Sport Select Package), $750 (Glacier White Metallic)
Freight & PDI: $1,995
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $53,645

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