More recently, Infiniti (Q50) and Lexus (IS) have gotten serious about this segment, as has Volvo with its S60. And by mid-2018, Hyundai's upscale Genesis brand will have its first-ever small sport sedan on the market in a brand-new model called the G70.
In recognition of competition existing and forthcoming, Audi did a full redesign of the A4 last year, so for 2018 it returns with minor updates to its standard features and options lists.
The range starts with a front-wheel drive model offered in Komfort and Progressiv trim levels, powered by a 2.0L turbo four-cylinder engine (190 hp/236 lb-ft of torque) and a seven-speed automatic transmission. Buyers who want Audi's well-known Quattro AWD system get a more potent version of the same engine that cranks out 252 hp and 273 lb-ft. Here, Audi adds a high-end Technik trim and makes available a six-speed manual transmission.
If you want performance to match six-cylinder variants of the 3 Series and C-Class, Audi asks you to move up to the S4, which uses a turbo V6 to make 354 hp and 369 lb-ft; that car is covered in a separate buyer's guide entry.
There are new wheel designs for this year's Komfort trim models, though they remain 18 inches in diameter. Komfort trim also gains standard S-line exterior treatment in FWD and AWD forms, on top of carried over standard features like a sunroof, 10-speaker stereo, heated and power-adjustable front seats, automatic climate control, fog lights and bi-xenon headlights.
New to this year's Progressiv trim are LED headlights with automatic high beams; other standard items are navigation, 8.3-inch infotainment display, heated steering wheel, passive keyless entry, front and rear parking sensors, garage door opener, driver's seat memory, hands-free trunk release, auto-dimming side mirrors and a 7.0-inch colour driver information display.
Updates to the Technik trim level are limited to a new wheel design and the Audi Connect suite of assistance services. Features carried over include blind spot assist with rear cross traffic alert, top-view camera, all-digital gauge cluster, power-folding side mirrors, ambient lighting, Bang & Olufsen stereo and pre-sense rear, which senses when a rear-end crash is imminent and reduces the risk of injury to the car's occupants.
Fuel consumption estimates are 8.6/6.4 for FWD models and 10.0/7.0 for cars with AWD.
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