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2004 new car guide, model guide, new car reviews, by brand


The German automaker Audi produces a stunning array of precisely mannered sedans and wagons sized from small to medium and large, plus curvaceous sports coupes and convertibles.

Audi's complete line for 2004 comprises alphanumeric designations for sedans of compact, mid-size and large-car classes, with engines of four and six and eight cylinders -- thus the tags as A4, A6 and A8. In addition, the avant label in Audi vernacular denotes a station wagon format, FrontTrak means front-wheel-drive (FWD) and quattro signifies all-wheel-drive (AWD) with a permanently engaged device that distributes the engine's power to all wheels.

Yet there are variations, like Audi's too-cute TT coupe and roadster convertible, or the allroad quattro, a crossover vehicle that merges a sports sedan with a sport-utility wagon to form an AWD estate wagon off the A6 avant but with a broader wheel track and variable-height pneumatic suspension.

New for 2004 is Audi's A8L flagship sedan. Consider it a kinetic work of automotive art, chiseled from aluminum with a space frame structure stretched to extravagant length and an elegant cabin decorated in glossy hardwoods and supple leathers and filled with limousine luxuries. It also scores world-class marks for the strength of a V8 powertrain and sophisticated electronics aboard governing all aspects of the vehicle's movement plus communications, navigation, comfort, even entertainment.

New too is the S4, a souped-up sports sedan derived from the A4 quattro series with a 4.2-liter V8 pushing 340 hp through a six-speed manual stick or optional six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. A variation of that powerful engine drops into the allroad quattro wagon to make a new model, the allroad quattro 4.2. It scores 300 hp when teamed to a five-speed Tiptronic automatic and stocks Audi's side curtain-style air bags labeled Sideguard. And TT quattro cars offer another powerplant choice this year with a 250 hp version tied to a clutch-less transmission dubbed the Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG).

Audi A8L
2004 Audi A8L

The full-size flagship sedan from Audi has been recast with a stretched wheelbase and a unitized space frame structure composed of lightweight aluminum, then fitted with sophisticated mechanical systems and extravagant luxuries. And it's absolutely gorgeous.

Theme for the exterior is understated elegance where subtle shapes and soft edgework come out of the less-is-more school of car design. The body stretches to a considerable length yet linear dimensions are disguised by the raked-back windshield and rear tapered roof pillars supporting a gracefully arched canopy spanning the passenger compartment. Forward and back decks are then abbreviated with a blunt prow and tail, leaving scant space for overhangs projecting beyond fore and aft edges of the massive wheels in multi-spoke patterns cast from aluminum.

Up front, the curving nose looks clean and organized with a narrow horizontal grille centered between elongated clusters of composite lenses shielding bi-xenon high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps. Open any door and slip into a supportive seat that fits like a custom-built lounge chair.

Cabin layout is familiar with two broad buckets in front and a bench in back with indentions for two but room for three. The stretched wheelbase -- fully ten feet long -- adds up to more than sufficient legroom for passengers in the rear quarters. The A8L driver is surrounded with an ultimate assortment of electronic car controls, with most set on the steering wheel or driver's door, or operated from a handy joystick mounted at the front end of the center console's padded armrest.

The joystick, rotating and clickable like a computer mouse, links to a video screen that pops up front on the dashboard to access car controls such as the variable suspension settings, as well as climate, navigation, audio and telecommunications equipment. Audi dubs this stick the MMI -- Multimedia Interface. The A8L comes with Audi's quattro AWD equipment.

Speed-sensitive power rack and pinion steering feels precise and quick, and for braking, there's a big disc at each wheel coupled to a computerized anti-lock brake system (ABS) as well as electronic brake force distribution (EBD), and an electronic stabilization program (ESP) to prevent wheels from skidding laterally. Powertrain consists of an aluminum 4.2-liter V8 with dual cams and all torque translated through a ZF six-speed electronic automatic transmission outfitted with Tiptronic manual shift mode. It runs up to 330 hp.

A8L provides a comprehensive list of standard gear, including leather and wood trim in the cabin. Still, there are options, such as a convenience package plus stand-alone options -- a sunroof, front and rear Parktronic guidance, and different wheel and tire packages to 19 inches.

Read our Review: Audi A8L


Audi A6
2004 Audi A6

The mid-size sedans and estate wagons from Audi stand in size between compact A4 and full-size A8. The series consists of three sedans and an avant wagon that vary through powertrains yet a unibody structure shared by all contains lightweight aluminum structural components. Base A6 3.0 sedan uses Audi's 3.0-liter V6 worth 220 hp.

A five-speed Tiptronic automatic is standard with sport settings, but a multitronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) is offered on FrontTrak models and it carries a new sport mode shifting program. Audi's quattro traction system is optional. Next step up in the series leads to the A6 2.7T sedan tipping decidedly to the sporty side of performance with a unique bi-turbo 2.7-liter V6 aboard for 250 hp.

The two turbo-chargers -- one for each of two cylinder banks -- take up less space than a single large unit and the small size means faster response from accelerator pressure to firing time and higher torque at lower engine speeds. A6 4.2 sedan stocks the powerful 4.2-liter dual cam V8 for massive muscle.

And for superior strength in a wagon, the sport-tuned A6 4.2 avant also gets the V8. A sunroof shows up as standard equipment on all A6 quattro models for 2004.


Audi A4/S4
2004 Audi S4

Audi's A4 compact-class sedans emerged in 2002 with new generational designs that expanded the structure and stretches the wheelbase to forge a larger package with more cabin space for riders.

In 2003 an airy drop-top variation showed up as the A4 Cabriolet with two powertrain options. For 2004 Audi adds a new quattro AWD version to the convertible to create the A4 3.0 quattro Cabriolet, while the sedan gets a racy S4 quattro special edition. The S4 quattro stocks Audi's 4.2-liter V8 pushed to 340 hp and linked to a six-speed manual or new six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. It has large front brakes, xenon HID headlamps and 18-inch AVUS cast-alloy wheels with 235/40 high-performance tires.

Also, the exterior for S4 varies from other A4 sedans with large front air intakes and a double grille mounted up front, aluminum mirror housings on flanks and a spoiler on the trunk. Special paint colors apply, such as Imola Yellow or Goodwood Green. Inside, ultra-sport seats of Recaro design are clad in leather, while the leather-wrapped sport steering wheel holds Tiptronic shift paddles for hands-on gear changes.

Entry issue in the A4 series is the 1.8T sedan with a 1.8-liter turbo plant in FrontTrak format linked to a manual five-speed gearbox. In addition, Audi offers its multitronic CVT shifter. To ensure tire traction on pavement, A4 1.8T is available with Audi's quattro system and this year it brings a new six-speed manual transmission as the standard.

Audi also casts the A4 sedan in luxury mode as the A4 3.0. This version is fired by an aluminum-block 3.0-liter V6 that generates 220 hp. A4 3.0 quattro gets either a manual six-speed or five-speed Tiptronic automatic. A4 Cabriolet stocks the 1.8-liter turbo plant in FrontTrak format or the 3.0-liter V6 with FrontTrak or new quattro traction.

The fabric-lined convertible top has three layers for insulation plus a rear window constructed from glass and imbedded with a defroster element. Top opens and closes by either a manual mode or optional semi-automatic power.

Automatic Rollover Supports (ARS) are also aboard the convertible. The bars, lurking behind backseat headrests, will deploy instantaneously if on-board sensors detect potential vehicle rollover movement.

Audi TT
2004 Audi TT Coupe

Audi's compact two-door machines appear as a slinky sports coupe or daring convertible roadster with roly-poly styling and curvy skin stretched tautly over exaggerated wheels.

The FWD TT 1.8T employs a 1.8-liter turbo four of long stroke design with dual overhead cams and five valves per cylinder. It's rated at 180 hp and connects to a five-speed manual transmission or optional six-speed manual. The AWD quattro TT massages the same engine, although inter-coolers are also attached to pump up a juicy 225 hp.

And a new quattro edition extracts 250 hp from that plant and sends it through a DSG shifter. This most powerful TT wears 17-inch wheels capped by performance tires and sports a taller tail spoiler, plus bigger brakes and a modified exhaust system. It also adds shifter paddles to the steering wheel.

The TT cockpit is a creative exercise of form following function. Machined aluminum rings dotted by eight circular indentions simulating screw marks show up in multiple locations, such as a clamp for the stick shifter's leather boot.

Also, the silvery metallic theme continues with metal bezels ringing analog gauges in the instrument panel and dash control buttons, plus an aluminum cover over the face of audio controls and perforated stainless steel foot pedals studded in rubber. Xenon HID headlamps light a bright path for all TT models this year.

Audi allroad
2004 Audi allroad

Audi's designers tried to blend two seemingly disparate concepts of a curve-craving sports sedan with a mud-loving sport-utility vehicle -- one a sleek pavement speeder that slinks snugly against asphalt, the other a boxy off-road machine hiked high in suspension to clear rough stuff on a trail. The vehicle produced by this mix is called allroad. It's a cool scheme based on Audi's A6 avant but with different body panels and protective armor cladding, plus a luxurious passenger compartment draped in supple leathers, hardwoods and touches of satin-finished aluminum. And it comes with Audi's quattro AWD system.

This year Audi doubles the allroad models by creating a high-powered version that joins the base allroad quattro 2.7T. Called the allroad quattro 4.2, this new wagon gets the 4.2-liter V8 out of A8L and S4. In this installation it produces 300 hp and puts it through a five-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. The entry-issue allroad quattro 2.7T edition uses the bi-turbo V6 of A6 2.7T. The plant makes 250 hp, with all torque scored by a six-speed manual or optional five-speed Tiptronic.

As a bridge between a low-slung pavement cruiser and high-clearance SUV, the allroad quattro applies the magic of a height-adjustable suspension that moves the chassis up or down to one of four levels. The cabin has two front bucket seats divided by a center console and followed by a rear bench with twin indentions for two but wide enough for three. A third bench, facing the rear and sized strictly for children, is optional and can be removed.


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