2008 Audi A4 Special Edition
2008 Audi A4 Special Edition. Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Michael Clark

Photo Gallery:
2008 Audi A4

In the grand scheme of determining ‘Deluxe’, most manufacturers head for the Badge Bin, rummage about between the broken screwdrivers and wooden spoons, and pull out the stick-me-up piece of chromium plastique that announces your arrival. Where that arrival is actually occurring can vary, depending on the vehicle that wears the sticky widget. Everything from E-Class to Escort has worn some form of lapel pin over the years, even if it’s strictly on the option list. Such is the case with the 2008 Audi A4 Special Edition. With a starting MSRP of $42,150 for quattro sedan versions, this option buffet attempts to tell you what you want; what you really, really want. The question is this; did they leave anything out worthy of an Inside Story pout? Let’s hit the fob and do our job.

2008 Audi A4 Special Edition
2008 Audi A4 Special Edition. Click image to enlarge


Cabin

Controls:

The A4, like the rest of the Audi stable, screams both substance and genuine purpose for the driver and passengers alike. Key elements are within easy reach, with quick visual understanding. The steering wheel possesses audio source and volume controls, keeping the cruise control on a stalk mount. Thumb locators are not as pronounced as other makes, but they do exist, for those who understand what 9 and 3 can really mean in the twisties.

2008 Audi A4 Special Edition
2008 Audi A4 Special Edition. Click image to enlarge

All window positions boast auto up and down control. Exterior mirrors are power-positionable, with fold feature for tight parking spaces, and heat for frosty traces. The power moonroof has a unique dial control; simply advance the dial to the preferred detent for the right amount of fresh-air void. HVAC controls are delightfully simplistic, for both passenger and driver climate zones. The same goes for the Audi Symphony audio head unit with six-CD changer. Unlike with some makes, there are few attempts to confuse the new Audi owner into the pages of the owner’s manual. The instrumentation is an E-Z read. Headlamps get the all-important auto setting. The trunk release/gas door/tow-angle alarm switches are carefully hidden in the driver’s side door cubbie, but it would take little rote to master their positions.

2008 Audi A4 Special Edition
2008 Audi A4 Special Edition
2008 Audi A4 Special Edition. Click image to enlarge

Convenience:

The think gets downright freaky inside the A4; there’s just so much of it. Front doors get compact uncovered cubbies, with rear seatbacks obtaining mesh pockets. Under-seat lighting in the rear is a welcome addition to the art of nighttime ingress/egress. My complaint with most centre consoles is that they can’t get out of the way, when you want to drive for a change. The A4 unit folds rearward, removing the chance of a dreaded welt on the bottom of your right elbow. The inner console is flock lined, which should keep the rattles down to a minimum from your stuff. The same lining is found in the dual sliding trays, just above the audio head unit. 12-volt power points are found beneath the console, and in the front ashtray compartment. Glove-box is lockable, as well as ample. Both front driver and passenger seats get lower storage compartments, perfect for the Ray-Bans. The centre console cupholder is a treat for the Timmy’s or Starbuck’s fiend.

2008 Audi A4 Special Edition
2008 Audi A4 Special Edition. Click image to enlarge

Three spring-loaded prongs take care of the grip. The rear seat gets a flip-down armrest, with a ratchet-style cupholder, and a storage compartment. The rear seatbacks can fold 60/40, with an approximate upward angle of 20 degrees when fully folded into the passenger compartment. The back release is found at the tops of the seats, with the added benefit of a hard-lock system for trunk security. That’s a fancy way of saying it uses the key. Child seat tether points are clearly marked and accessed. Below the rear centre ashtray (?) is a central door locking switch. Overhead, the passengers receive proper reading lights. A special note on the HVAC front is the lower heat outlets in the front cabin, pointed right at your frosty feet. And you thought it was just about the quattro.

2008 Audi A4 Special Edition
2008 Audi A4 Special Edition. Click image to enlarge

Seats:

Driver and front passenger get full power articulation, including lumbar. Seat belt anchor points are height-adjustable, naturally. The heat is sweet, with six toasty settings for driver and passenger. (Leave it on ‘One’, just for therapeutic reasons.) Overall driver fit is excellent, as are the leather surface grains. Headrests have a side button, for easy height adjustment. Rear shingle-style headrests make for excellent rearward vision.

Fit and finish:

Nothing negative to report, even in places where you would accept it, such as trunk trim.

Safety Features:

Oh sure, there’s front, side, and full curtain airbags in the A4. But where do we put the trophy? That would be the Top Safety Pick Award, from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. These are some of the toughest crash tests performed.

2008 Audi A4 Special Edition
2008 Audi A4 Special Edition
2008 Audi A4 Special Edition. Click image to enlarge

The Top Safety Pick designation occurs when the test vehicle achieves the highest rating of ‘Good’ in frontal, side, and rear impact tests.


Spare/Trunk/Cargo

If I’m ever thrown into a trunk by hired goons, this is where I want to contemplate the Why. The lining is spot-on, even on the underside of the trunk lid. Ever notice how the key hole has disappeared from most trunk lids? The A4’s is cleverly hidden at the top of the license plate indent, because you just never know. The cargo tie-down points look like they would be at home on the mahogany deck of some sailing vessel. There’s a covered storage cubbie to the left, and a mesh pocket to the right, which hides a 12-volt DC plug-in. The cargo floor is easily removed to access the full-size spare, with matching alloy wheel. Roadside assistance occurs for four years, with no mileage restrictions.

2008 Audi A4 Special Edition
2008 Audi A4 Special Edition. Click image to enlarge


Engine

The longitudinal arrangement of the 2.0-litre turbo four should make for service ease in the years to come, Major replacement components are easily accessed, as are the fluid fill points throughout the engine bay. The Special Edition upgrade includes Bi-Xenon headlamps, so leave those for dealer servicing.


Clarkey Rating

When you realize that $42,150 also includes the magic of quattro, and a platform that screams ‘Drive Me’, the interior accoutrements are the proverbial icing on the cake. Five stars.

Next week: Mazda CX-7

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