In a market that’s constantly talking big about SUVs and simultaneously downplaying the popularity of traditional sedans, the Audi A3 has steadily made year over year gains. In fact, the recently revised…

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv Road Test

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
Audi’s A3 was refreshed for 2017, therefore this A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro remains unchanged for 2018. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

In a market that’s constantly talking big about SUVs and simultaneously downplaying the popularity of traditional sedans, the Audi A3 has steadily made year over year gains. In fact, the recently revised model’s Canadian sales grew 5.3 percent from the close of 2016 to December 31, 2017, while deliveries are up an impressive 63 percent since 2014, the first full year that four-door sedan and convertible body styles were added to the mix and the conventionally powered first-generation five-door wagon/hatchback Sportback was dropped. 

To be clear, along with the A3 Sedan and A3 Cabriolet, Audi once again sells an A3 Sportback, albeit now dubbed A3 Sportback e-tron due to only being available in plug-in hybrid guise, while the A3 Sedan is also available with sportier S3 and RS 3 upgrades. Being that I haven’t driven any of these alternative versions in 2018 guise I’ll keep this review focused solely on the A3 Sedan, which once again found its way into my hands in mid-grade 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv trim. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
Audi cleaned up the new A3 Sedan’s details front to back. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Back to sales and the SUV phenomenon, the A3 was the only car in its subcompact luxury class to achieve positive growth last year, actually managing to pass right by the Mercedes-Benz CLA on its way to segment bestseller status. While this is great news for Audi, the surprising flip side to this scenario is a Q3 subcompact luxury SUV that’s losing ground to its competitors, with calendar year 2017 sales that were off by 3.5 percent in a Canadian new vehicle market that was up overall. Audi will want to remedy its entry-level SUV situation quickly. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The A3’s grille is larger and more angled, while its lower fascia gets some nicely chiseled detailing. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The A3 Sedan needs no such drastic attention, especially after receiving a significant mid-cycle upgrade for the 2017 model year. It therefore continues into 2018 unchanged, with its “horseshoe” grille still slightly larger and more angled than the one it replaced, the now standard HID headlamps slimmer with more sharply scalloped lower edges than the more conservative outgoing lenses, and its standard LED taillights still dazzling when lit up at night, while the refreshed A3 Sedan’s sharply detailed lower front and rear fascias continue forward unchanged as well. 

Last year’s redesigned standard and optional alloy wheels needed no fix either, my tester’s being a stunning set of machine-finished twinned five-spoke 18-inch alloys that looked as if they’d been upgraded to S Line sport trim, but such wasn’t the case at all. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The headlamps get a more angular design as well as optional full LED lighting. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Really, despite standing out like a fully dressed premium four-door, my 2018 A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv tester was simply Audi’s least expensive model in its standard mid-range trim, nothing special. Or at least it was nothing special for an Audi. The German brand’s bold, sporty styling has helped sales steadily grow year over year since 2005, even making gains through the great recession. Specifically, Canadian Audi sales grew 17.9 percent last year, making 2017 the luxury brand’s strongest growth since 2014 that saw its sales expand by 19.5 percent over the previous year’s sales record. Other standout years include 2010 with a 26.7 percent increase over 2009, while even 2008, right smack dab in the middle of the financial crisis, saw Audi sell 22 percent more vehicles than 2007. That 10-year period witnessed Audi Canada sales grow by more than 288 percent, all because of making smart decisions like the A3 Sedan. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The A3 Sedan now looks as upscale as any other Audi model. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The four-ringed brand’s winning formula has long included some of the most appealing cabins in the industry, and the new A3 Sedan only improves on the outgoing model. It’s all about tastefully applied high quality materials—an ample supply of real aluminum trim always part of the package. 

The fully configurable Audi Virtual Cockpit 12.3-inch TFT primary instrument package was added to top-line Technik trim as part of last year’s update, while the car maintained its already well-received MMI infotainment system that continues to power up out of the dash-top to the oohs and ahs of passengers, so Audi is ahead of its rivals in one instance and about mid-pack with the other. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The Progressiv trim’s 18-inch alloy wheel upgrade makes a big visual difference. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Why just a middling classification for A3 infotainment? The 7.0-inch display’s diameter probably makes it a bit small in today’s bigger is better tablet-infused world, although it was certainly large enough for my requirements, and despite providing bright, beautiful colours, deep and rich contrast, crystal clarity and stimulating graphics, its lack of touch-capacitive control keeps it from earning top marks. Then again, the screen earns big points for its disappearing act, or rather the ability to eliminate its own distracting presence during night drives by hiding away in the same nook that brings it to life on startup. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The new LED taillights can be upgraded with dynamic sequential turn signals. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Audi recently upgraded the MMI Radio’s operating system to accept Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, but being that I use an Android-based phone and don’t like the latter system I found the standard interface more pleasing to look at and plenty easy to navigate through, and I’m not just talking about route guidance. Yes, Audi included its $1,950 Navigation package in my $36,100 Progressive trimmed test car, which added MMI Navigation plus to the centre display, as well as MMI Touch to the lower console, and a colour multi-information display (replacing a rather rudimentary looking monochromatic unit) to the otherwise analogue primary gauge cluster. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
All Audi A3 Sedans provide a high-quality premium interior. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I should be clear that my Progressive trimmed A3 Sedan tester was actually upgraded with Quattro all-wheel drive, so the starting price was pushed up to $40,900 before freight and fees, and I should also let you know that all manufacturer recommended prices are easy to find and perfectly accurate at CarCostCanada.com, the one-stop-shop that allows me to quickly source pricing, features, cost/markup info, available rebate details and more. Here you can see the base 2018 A3 Sedan Komfort starts at just $32,800, while the top-tier Technik hits the road at $45,300. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The A3 Sedan’s cockpit is great looking and set up with ideal ergonomics. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The $4,800 difference from front-drive to the all-wheel Quattro drivetrain includes more than just rear-wheel motivation, by the way, the upgrade also featuring 34 more horsepower from 186 to 220 ponies, 37 additional lb-ft of torque from 221 to 258 foot pounds, and one less forward gear, from the FWD car’s brilliant seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic automated gearbox to the slightly less flashy yet still very good six-speed S tronic automatic transmission. 

Efficiency fans may also chagrin at the Quattro-equipped car’s lack of idle start/stop that helps to reduce the base model’s claimed fuel economy to just 9.1 L/100km in the city, 6.8 on the highway and 8.0 combined to a less miserly yet still thrifty 9.7, 7.5 and 8.7 respectively, but frowns turn to a smiles when factoring in the more formidable model’s 0.8-second gain from standstill to 100km/h, the FWD model performing the feat in a respectable 7.0 seconds compared to the Quattro’s much more entertaining 6.2 seconds. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The primary gauge package gets upgraded with a colour multi-information display in Progressiv trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Both A3 trims benefit from highly responsive speed-sensitive rack and pinion steering and a wonderfully nimble fully independent chassis, the latter consisting of MacPherson struts with lower wishbones up front and a four-link suspension with separate springs and dampers in back, the setup combining for easy manageability and a nice comfortable ride through town, superb manoeuvrability on fast-paced windy back roads, and total stability at highway speeds up to 209 km/h (130 mph), but take note the Quattro system’s rear-drive mechanicals eat up trunk space, reducing available cargo capacity by 62 litres (2.2 cubic feet) to just 284 litres (10.0 cubic feet). 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
A 7.0-inch infotainment display powers up from within the dash-top at startup. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

At least Audi finishes the A3 Sedan’s trunk off nicely with a carpeted floor, sidewalls and under-lid, plus chromed tie-down rings at each corner, while it provides 60/40-split rear seatbacks to expand on its usefulness, with a handy centre pass-through for placing longer cargo like skis down the middle so that a duo of rear passengers can enjoy the more comfortable window seats. Also notable, the rear seat folding mechanisms feel much better made than average, while along with a spare tire Audi has organized some small cubbies below the cargo floor for stowing items like work gloves and rags, or possibly a little tool kit. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The navigation and backup camera systems are optional, odd this day and age. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I should point out the A3 Sedan’s rear seating area is fairly roomy for this subcompact luxury class, with my five-foot-eight medium-build frame still a healthy six inches from rubbing knees against the backside of the driver’s seat after setting up the latter for my near-average height, plus there was still plenty of room for my feet while wearing clunky leather boots. The A3 also provided more than a few inches of air space next to my hips and shoulders, but rear headroom was somewhat compromised with only an inch or so above my crown, and it should be noted that my torso is shorter than average for my height, so therefore someone five-foot-ten with a normally proportioned body would probably find the A3 Sedan a bit cramped in back. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
A3 switchgear is high in quality, with nice aluminum detailing throughout the cabin. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of course, other than the need to move around the cabin to take notes I spent the majority of my time in the A3 Sedan’s driver seat, which proved easy to set up thanks to exceptionally good ergonomics, and was therefore wonderfully comfortable and ideally positioned for optimal control. Backing out of my parking spot I immediately appreciated the dynamic guideline-assisted rearview camera system that relegates a third of the MMI display to active overhead graphics, which highlighted my car’s proximity to surrounding objects via colours that corresponded with the front and rear parking sensor’s audible beeps, hazard orange changing to bright red when coming dangerously close to scratching the A3’s lovely paintwork. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The A3 shifter and infotainment controllers are beautifully finished. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

My tester was finished in Ibis White, one of two standard colours that also include Brilliant Black, while Audi offers an octet of $800 metallic enhancements, with Cosmos Blue Metallic being the most interesting—the rest are white, silver and grey shades, plus vibrant Tango Red Metallic. 

Now that I’m talking features, on top of everything already mentioned, base Komfort trim includes 17-inch alloys, auto on/off headlights, aluminum doorsills, an electromechanical parking brake, leather upholstery, a powered driver’s seat with four-way power lumbar, heatable front seats, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone auto climate control, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, 7.0-inch MMI infotainment, 180-watt 10-speaker AM/FM/CD audio with an aux plug, satellite radio, Bluetooth phone connectivity (without audio streaming!), a large glass sunroof, an alarm, and more. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The 12-way powered driver’s seat is extremely comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

On the safety front the A3 gets the expected ABS-enhanced four-wheel disc brakes with EBD and BA, plus traction and stability control, Pre-sense Basic crash response, and six airbags, which is good enough for five stars from the NHTSA in standard trim and Top Safety Pick status from the IIHS when its $1,050 LED Lighting package is added. Within the A3’s subcompact luxury class only BMW’s 2 Series achieves the latter IIHS rating, and being a two-door coupe or convertible it doesn’t directly compete. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
Audi calls it a panoramic sunroof, and while it doesn’t cover most of the roof it’s still plenty large. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Upgrading to Progressiv trim provides Audi Drive Select with Comfort, Auto, Dynamic (sport) and Individual modes, the aforementioned 18-inch alloys, brighter high-gloss window surrounds, unique Mistral aluminum interior inlays, more aluminum trim, LED ambient cabin lighting, a powered front passenger seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with an integrated compass (that should really be standard in this class), Audi’s MMI music interface featuring Bluetooth audio streaming (ditto standard equipment), one more SD card reader slot, an extra USB charging port, the rearview camera with active guidelines mentioned earlier (I still can’t believe it’s not standard), and more. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
Excepting headroom, rear seat spaciousness is good for the class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I should point out the A3 Sedan’s aluminum cabin trim is exquisitely finished, especially around the shifter and MMI controls, the latter including a large rotating dial surrounded by aluminized buttons. The circular controller provides a matte black surface on top capable of finger gestures in lieu of the tablet-style touchscreen missing from the dash, which means that any tap, pinch and swipe functions need to be performed on this small surface. 

Options include a Premium package at $1,700 with the base car or $1,100 when added to Progressiv trim, the price difference due to only adding proximity keyless access with pushbutton ignition plus fore and aft parking sensors with the upgraded trim, being that the bright window surrounds and powered front seats are already standard. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
The A3 Sedan’s trunk is on the smaller side, but it’s nicely finished. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I’ve already noted the LED headlight upgrade and Navigation package, which means that only the $1,800 S line sport package remains, a worthwhile addition that features unique exterior styling, a separate set of 18-inch alloys, a sport suspension, S line doorsills, brushed aluminum interior trim, a flat-bottom steering wheel with paddles, sport seats, and a black headliner. 

I’d be tempted to go for the S Line sport package if this were my personal ride, and it would be difficult not to spend a little more to move up to Technik trim as well, which makes everything mentioned (other than the S Line package) standard, including the LED headlights and navigation, plus adds auto cornering headlight capability, special dynamic taillights, a heatable steering wheel, the aforementioned Virtual Cockpit, a brilliant sounding Bang & Olufsen audio system, Audi side assist to warn from approaching rear traffic, and more. 

2018 Audi A3 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Progressiv
A 60/40-split rear seatback is further improved with a centre pass-through. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Additionally, only Technik trim lets you add a $1,400 Technology package with Audi pre-sense front, Active Lane Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go, plus High Beam Assist, the latter two well worth the price of admission for convenience sake, and the first two capable of saving life and limb. 

With pricing between $33k and $50k, plus features to justify any extra expense, it’s no wonder the A3 Sedan remains so popular. It delivers exactly what budget-oriented premium sport sedan buyers want, and looks fabulous no matter the trim. I expect Audi will remedy some of the base car’s shortcomings by making some optional items standard, but keep in mind that it’s priced well and includes leather, auto HVAC, a sunroof, etcetera in its most basic package, so splurge for Progressiv trim if an auto-dimming mirror, backup camera, and Bluetooth streaming are must-haves. Either way you’ll be well served in a 2018 Audi A3 Sedan.

At first glance the move up from Audi’s A3 to A4 might not appear like a very big step, but don’t let the larger cars’ stylistic similarity trick you into thinking there’s little difference between…

2018 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik Road Test

2018 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Audi’s A4 was updated last year and looks just as dazzling for 2018, seen here in top-tier Technik trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

At first glance the move up from Audi’s A3 to A4 might not appear like a very big step, but don’t let the larger cars’ stylistic similarity trick you into thinking there’s little difference between the two.

While the A3 is exceptionally well finished for its more compact luxury class, plus plenty sporty and nicely featured, the move up to the D-segment-sized A4 brings with it an entirely new level of spaciousness, luxury and performance.

2018 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Clean, understated and classy, the A4 has won over a large, dedicated following of luxury buyers. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

For starters the 2018 A4 provides more interior space for driver and passengers, thanks to more front to rear legroom, greater width for shoulders, elbows and hips, and considerably more headroom, especially in back. With the driver’s seat positioned for my five-foot-eight frame I found more than six inches in front of my knees when seated behind, plus plenty of space for my feet, and about four inches remaining above my head. That means taller folk measuring six-foot-two and above should have no problem fitting comfortably in back.

2018 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The A4’s singleframe grille was made more angular for 2017. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Likewise, the A4 Quattro’s trunk is 90 litres larger than the A3’s at 480 litres, which is sizeable for its class and made even more accommodating via ultra-convenient 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatbacks. If you need yet more cargo capacity, the base front-wheel drive A4 allows for 490 litres of gear-toting space. The trunk is finished nicely too, with high quality carpeting up the sidewalls and on the seatbacks, plus chromed tie-down hooks at each corner.

2018 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
LED headlights enhance safety and style. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of course, you’ll find much more luxury and refinement inside the cabin, with expected D-segment upgrades including fabric wrappings for all roof pillars and soft-touch synthetics across the entire dash top and instrument panel, while unlike the smaller A3 both front and rear door panels receive high-grade pliable padded finishings from their topmost uppers to their lowest extremities.

2018 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
These optional 19-inch alloys are stunning. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

That’s about it for plush plastics however, with the lower dash, glove box lid, and sides of the lower console disappointingly made from high quality textured harder composites. I can’t say this is par for the course as some others do this better, but Audi more than makes up for this slight shortcoming when it comes to digital interfaces and switchgear.

2018 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The A4’s dynamic LED taillights illuminate sequentially to indicate the direction of your turn. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

My top-line Technik tester meant that the Audi Virtual Cockpit came standard, an otherwise optional feature that’ll be sure to put a smile on any car enthusiast or tech zealot’s face. It’s a driver configurable TFT instrument cluster that provides clear resolution, superb graphics, wonderful depth of colour, and plenty of features, one of which simultaneously makes the centre-mounted multi-information display larger and surrounding digital dials smaller by pushing a steering wheel “VIEW” button, thus providing better visibility of key functions like the navigation system’s detailed mapping system. The Virtual Cockpit proves not all TFT gauge packages are created equal, with the A4’s my choice for best in class.

2018 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The A4’s interior isn’t perfect, but it comes close. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The 8.3-inch infotainment display atop the dash is excellent too, although there are many more segment challengers for top spot in this category. Audi’s display is the current en vogue fixed tablet style, standing on its own above the centre stack. Unlike most in the class, the MMI system only allows actuation via a console-mounted rotating dial with a gesture sensor on top, plus a set of surrounding buttons, whereas competitors are either adapting to direct touchscreen functions in conjunction with such secondary controls, or dropping the costly dials and buttons altogether.

2018 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The flat-bottom S Line steering wheel joins other S Line Sport package upgrades in amping up the A4 cabin. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

I can understand why some owners wouldn’t want front passenger’s drive-thru-greased fingerprints mucking up the lovely display, but in reality the vast majority of us are so intrinsically connected to our smartphones and tablets that it’s only a matter of time before the A4’s secondary hardware is relegated to the past.

2018 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The Audi Virtual Cockpit makes you think it has maximized the multi-information system’s display area until… (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Of note, even Audi has already done so with its new 2018 A8, and after watching some video of that car’s incredible new infotainment system, and living with Volkswagen’s more intuitive new 6.5- and 8.0-inch touchscreens that allow tap, pinch and swipe gesture controls directly on the screen, not to mention finger proximity sensing capability, it’s a change that will certainly be welcomed across the entire Audi lineup. On the positive the current system incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, the former absolutely worth syncing up to and, no fault to Audi, the latter still needing more work.

2018 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
…. you see it fully maximized. Just press a “VIEW” button on the steering wheel and the dials get smaller and info larger. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

While I’ve criticized the MMI system’s switchgear for existing at all, I can’t very well dis it from an execution perspective. It’s all top-tier componentry, finished in lovely anodized aluminum and substantive matte composites, much like the A4’s remaining buttons, knobs and toggles that are amongst the industries best. I especially like the artfully designed auto climate control interface, while the metal and leather T-shaped shifter is as much a monument to good industrial design as the beautifully thin spokes of my tester’s S Line Sport package enhanced flat-bottomed steering wheel.

2018 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The centre stack is clean, well organized, and filled with features. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

These two driver-machine interfaces connect through to a wonderfully reactive drivetrain and chassis, the A4 amongst the D-segment’s most enjoyable four-door sport sedans thanks to strong yet smooth straight-line performance and superb handling dynamics combined with ample comfort. The numbers for the all-wheel drive Quattro model read 252 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque from a 2.0-litre direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder, which doesn’t make the A4 quickest in its class yet still provides plenty of jump off the line.

2018 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The MMI display is filled with functions, but I appreciated the dual-screen parking camera most. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The German carmaker mixes this top-line engine with a six-speed manual or its recently redesigned seven-speed S Tronic dual-clutch automatic, which delivers ultra-quick shifts and smooth, linear operation, this latter transmission standard with the base front-wheel drive A4. That entry model makes do with 62 fewer horsepower and 37 less lb-ft of torque resulting in a 7.4-second jog to 100km/h instead of the Quattro model’s 6.0-second sprint, but it’s a smart choice for those wanting a more leisurely, luxury-oriented ride with a focus on fuel economy.

2018 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
Infotainment functions are controlled by the MMI dial and surrounding buttons. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The base engine is good for a claimed 8.6 L/100km city, 6.4 highway and 7.6 combined, which is excellent for its class, while the more potent powerplant and six-speed manual combination gets a rating of 9.9 city, 7.1 highway and 8.7 combined, and as-tested auto/AWD combo 10.0, 7.0 and 8.7 respectively.

2018 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The T-shaped shift lever is a true piece of industrial art. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Quattro AWD hooks the A4 up nicely at takeoff, even when soggy or snowy weather hampers road conditions, while standard steering wheel paddles add that critical level of engagement that buyers in this class crave. Despite not being the most powerful in its category, the A4 is one of my favourites to drive. It’s deceptively quick, while its compliant suspension defies its accomplished road holding. The A4 might just deliver the best balance of performance and comfort in the entire D-segment, while its well-insulated cabin ensconces driver and passengers in a hushed, calming environment benefiting further from a near industry best 0.23 coefficient of drag, its peaceful quietness only interrupted by the occasional high-revving mechanical note, sporty exhaust blip, or if suited up in Technik trim, superb 755-watt 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D sound quality.

2018 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The S Line sport seats are equal parts style and comfortable support. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Technik features not yet mentioned include power-folding side mirrors, a 360-degree Top-View surround camera, ambient lighting with custom colour selection, rear cross-traffic alert, Audi Side Assist that detects approaching vehicles from both sides and behind, Pre Sense Rear pre-collision that warns of potential problems coming from behind, an exit warning system that alerts of traffic or bicycles coming from behind when opening your door, and Audi connect assistance and security services, which is an impressive load of features for just $50,200 with the manual or $51,800 with the auto.

2018 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The front lower cushions include thigh extensions for greater comfort and support under the knees. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

My test car’s gorgeous set of 19-inch five-spoke V-design titanium-finish alloy rims on grippy 245/35 performance rubber was a clear sign of its $1,700 S Line Sport package, which along with items already mentioned includes a sport suspension with a 23-mm drop in ride height, S Line stainless steel doorsills, stainless steel pedals, unique S line interior trim with brushed aluminum inlays, front sport seats with powered lumbar for the front passenger, and a black headliner, while Audi also added $800 ventilated front seats.

2018 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The rear seating area is accommodating, comfortable and impressively finished. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The A4 Technik pulls plenty of other features up from lesser trims, including full LED headlights with auto high beams and automatic leveling, proximity access, a heated steering wheel, auto-dimming side mirrors, driver’s seat and side mirror memory, a universal garage door opener, the larger infotainment display and MMI touch controller, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, a foot-activated trunk release and more from $43,500 mid-range Progressiv trim, and S Line exterior styling, fog lights, pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, tri-zone auto climate control, satellite radio, leather upholstery, eight-way power-adjustable heated front seats, four-way powered driver’s seat lumbar, a power moonroof, an aerated glove box, tire pressure monitoring, Audi pre sense basic, Audi drive select, all the usual active and passive safety equipment, and much more from $39,600 base Komfort trim.

2018 Audi A4 Sedan 2.0 TFSI Quattro Technik
The big trunk has 40/20/40-split seatbacks for stowing longer cargo like skis between two more comfortable rear passengers. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Safety in mind, Audi offers a $2,100 Advanced Driver Assistance package featuring adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, active lane assist, Audi’s pre sense front and pre sense city automated braking systems, traffic congestion assist and traffic sign recognition, all of which qualify it for an IIHS Top Safety Pick rating, while the NHTSA gave all A4 trims a best-possible 5-star safety rating, and further noted it has zero recalls, zero investigations, and zero complaints.

Zero complaints: Yes, that’s how I’d sum up my test of this 2018 A4 Quattro too. Perfect? Not quite, but it’s easily one of the nicest sport-luxury sedans on the compact luxury market.

Audi and Subaru have been named best Mainstream Brand and best Premium Brand respectively in ALG’s 2018 Canadian Residual Value Awards (RVA), an important benchmark used for forecasting future vehicle…

Audi and Subaru earn top honours in 2018 ALG Canadian Residual Value Awards

2018 Subaru Impreza
The Subaru Impreza achieved best residual value in its “Compact” class. (Photo: Subaru)

Audi and Subaru have been named best Mainstream Brand and best Premium Brand respectively in ALG’s 2018 Canadian Residual Value Awards (RVA), an important benchmark used for forecasting future vehicle values by auto industry professions.

Now in its 10th year, ALG’s RVA projects future values of new models from 26 separate market segments, ranging from “Alt-fuel” to “Fullsize Commercial Van” and everything in between. There are many ways to measure value, although within the car industry the difference between the initial price paid for a new vehicle and its resale value after three or four years is a key parameter. ALG uses the average ownership duration of four years to determine mainstream volume brand values and three years for premium brands, with the results showing both Subaru and Audi are tops in their respective sectors.

2018 Subaru Crosstrek
The Crosstrek earned best resale value in the “Subcompact Utility” category. (Photo: Subaru)

“Depreciation is the single biggest cost of vehicle ownership, and informed consumers understand the importance of resale value when making their purchase decision,” said Eric Lyman, vice president of ALG. “The ALG Residual Value Award is a meaningful achievement in the hyper-competitive automotive landscape. Residual values are a key indicator for the market success of a vehicle, factoring in quality, product execution and brand desirability as primary drivers of ALG’s forecast.”

This is Subaru’s fourth consecutive RVA mainstream brand win, showing an impressive consistency in quality, execution and desirability. This year the brand earned four segment awards, including the Impreza in the “Compact” class, the Crosstrek in the “Subcompact Utility” segment, the Outback in the “Midsize Utility 2nd Row Seating” segment, and the WRX in the “Sportscar” segment.

2018 Subaru Outback
Subaru’s Outback has the highest residual value in the “Midsize Utility 2nd Row Seating” segment. (Photo: Subaru)

Other notable mainstream brands include Toyota that dominated SUV and truck segments with five RVAs including the Tundra achieving its eighth consecutive year topping the “Fullsize Pickup” category, the Tacoma at five RVA “Midsize Pickup” class awards in a row, the Highlander winning the “Midsize Utility 3rd Row Seating” segment, the 4Runner in the “Off-Road Utility” class, and the Sequoia earning top marks in the “Fullsize Utility” category. Honda received three RVA segment awards including the Fit in the “Subcompact” class, Accord in the “Midsize” category, and Odyssey in the “Minivan” segment.

Nissan managed two winners including the Rogue in the “Compact Utility” class and Maxima in the “Fullsize” segment, while the only one-off deserving mention is Kia’s Niro in the “Alt-fuel” category.

2018 Audi A5 Coupe
Audi’s A5 has the best residual value amongst “Premium Midsize” models. (Photo: Audi)

Audi, which has experienced a dramatic upsurge in new vehicle sales in recent years, achieved four category wins including the A5 in the “Premium Midsize” class, A7 in the “Premium Fullsize” segment, Q5 in the “Premium Compact Utility” segment, and Q7 in the “Premium Midsize Utility 3rd Row Seating” category.

“Audi has emerged in recent years as a contender in the luxury space against top European rivals, finding success with new product entries in the utility space and emphasizing innovative technologies that have resonated well with luxury consumers,” stated an ALG press release.

2018 Audi Q5
The new Q5 is rated highest for resale value in the “Premium Compact Utility” segment. (Photo: Audi)

Mercedes also took home four awards, albeit with two in the commercial sector. The winners included the Metris in the “Midsize Commercial” segment and the Sprinter in the “Fullsize Commercial” category, while its CLA Class took home top marks amongst “Premium Compact” models, and the G-Class achieved the highest score in the “Premium Fullsize Utility” segment.

No other premium brand earned multiple RVAs, but notable mentioned include the Maserati Quattroporte in the “Premium Executive” class, the Porsche 718 Boxster in the “Premium Sportscar” segment, and the Land Rover Range Rover Velar in the “Premium Midsize Utility 2nd Row Seating” category.

While sales of some premium brands are more or less flat in Canada, Audi’s Canadian division has been on a charge with growth of 17.9 percent in 2017. Sales increased from 30,544 units in 2016 to 36,007…

Audi Canada achieves 17.9 percent growth for another record year in 2017

2018 Audi Q5
Sales of Audi’s new 2018 Q5 grew by 23.5 percent last year. (Photo: Audi)

While sales of some premium brands are more or less flat in Canada, Audi’s Canadian division has been on a charge with growth of 17.9 percent in 2017.

Sales increased from 30,544 units in 2016 to 36,007 last year, thanks in part to the all-new 2018 Q5 compact SUV that was up 23.5 percent from 8,313 to 10,271 units, once again the most popular in its class by a long shot.

If you think this upswing is all about buyers’ collective preference for SUVs over cars, consider that the redesigned 2018 A5 sports coupe increased its sales by 142.1 percent in 2017, from 1,516 units to 3,671, while the new A4 Sedan and A4 Allroad crossover wagon were up 16.1 percent over the same 12 months, from 6,031 to 7,007 units.

2018 Audi A5 Sportback
Sales of the new 2018 A5 grew by a staggering 142.1 percent in 2017, helped considerably by the entirely new A5 Sportback five-door. (Photo: Audi)

Incidentally, if you add those two D-segment totals together you end up with a sum of 10,678 units, which means the A4/A5 threesome almost matched the mighty Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan and Coupe, which managed just 170 units more for a total of 10,848, while BMW’s combined 3 and 4 Series sales weren’t that much farther ahead with 11,440 deliveries.

2018 Audi S4
Audi’s ever-popular A4 line, which includes the namesake A4, the A4 Allroad and the sportiest S4 (shown), found 16.1 percent more buyers in 2017. (Photo: Audi)

Other than R8 supercar deliveries that spiked by 48.7 percent from 158 to 235 units, most of Audi’s other models grew at a more modest pace, with Q7 sales increasing by 7.6 percent from 4,335 to 4,666 units, A3 deliveries up 5.3 percent from 3,795 to 3,997 units, A6 popularity growing by 4.1 percent from 834 to 868 buyers, and the compact TT sports car finding 3.7 percent more takers from 599 to 621 units, while the only Audi losers were the Q3, which was off by 3.5 percent from 3,860 to 3,724 units, the mid-size A7 Sportback, down by 14.2 percent from 887 to 761, and the full-size A8 flagship sedan dropping 13.9 percent from 216 to 186 units.

2018 Audi Q7
Sales of the new Q7 were so strong in 2016 that last year’s deliveries only grew by 7.6 percent, which is still impressive by most other brands’ standards. (Photo: Audi)

To be fair, Audi sales are only soft for products nearing the ends of their lifecycles, the new 2019 A8 set to arrive this fall, the fully redesigned A7 due to hit our market either later this year or early 2019, and the next-generation Q3 expected sometime in 2019.

Audi’s recent upswing in the Canadian market raises its jurisdictional profile at the brand’s Ingolstadt, Germany headquarters as well, with Canada “establishing itself as a firm fixture among the top ten largest markets,” stated a press release put out by the luxury brand earlier this month. This bodes well for future investment.

2018 Audi R8 V10
Sales of the R8 supercar increased by a stunning 48.7 percent in 2017. (Photo: Audi)

With 1,878,100 vehicles sold globally, Audi saw growth of 0.6 percent through 2017, from 1,867,738 units delivered worldwide the year before. Surprisingly, sales in China were only up 1.1 percent last year, while the Eurozone, which appears to be on the upswing by most economic factors, only grew by 0.4 percent, albeit certain markets were individually strong, with France up by 3.6 percent, Spain by 8.1 percent, and Italy by 10.5 percent.

2019 Audi A8
Sales of the A8 dropped by 13.9 percent last year, but they should pick up when the redesigned 2019 A8 arrives this coming fall. (Photo: Audi)

Last year the U.S. saw an overall vehicle market decline for the first time since 2009, dipping by 2.0 percent to 17.2 million units, but nevertheless Audi’s sales grew by 7.8 percent. This increase was dampened by a 1.8 percent decrease in Mexico and a plunge of 16.5 percent in Brazil, although these two markets, while presenting strong future growth opportunities, are not yet seen as core markets by Audi.

“Despite a very challenging situation we achieved positive growth in all core markets in 2017 and achieved a new record-breaking sales result worldwide,” said Bram Schot, Board Member for Sales and Marketing at AUDI AG. “Every single market contributed to this outcome. This demonstrates the attractiveness of our product portfolio to our customers.”

Audi already incorporates Android Auto and Apple CarPlay within its highly advanced MMI infotainment systems, but at this year’s Google I/O developer conference in Mountain View, California the German…

Audi teases Android open source in-car infotainment to app developers

2017 Audi Q8 Concept
Audi’s sensational Q8 Concept is the rolling platform for a new Android-based infotainment system. (Photo: Audi)

Audi already incorporates Android Auto and Apple CarPlay within its highly advanced MMI infotainment systems, but at this year’s Google I/O developer conference in Mountain View, California the German brand offered the Android open source community’s millions of members a new opportunity to share in the development of its next-generation in-car infotainment systems.

An Android HMI solution was already fully integrated within the new Audi Q8 sport concept on display at the Google I/O event, the stylish five-door SUV prototype having first been shown earlier in the year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on January 9. The question Audi had for show-goers was, how can the collective expertise of the Android open source community speed up development of future in-car apps?

2017 Audi Q8 Concept
The beautiful Q8 cabin includes some pretty impressive Android-based tech. (Photo: Audi)

With seven thousand attendees taking part in the conference, plus millions worldwide involved over the internet, there was no shortage of forward-thinking minds contemplating all the possible applications for Audi’s next-generation Android infotainment system.

The three-day Google I/O event is considered the largest and most important developer conference in the global software industry, so reason enough for Audi’s involvement. Of interest to attendees would be the Q8 sport concept’s technology platform, already infused with new Android-based apps like the Spotify streaming service, Google Play Music, and Google Assistant, which were all running on the vehicle’s sizeable MMI touchscreen display atop the centre dash.

2017 Audi Q8 Concept
This updated version of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit works even more seamlessly with the centre stack-mounted infotainment display than the current one. (Photo: Audi)

Of note, most infotainment system functions are also visible within Audi’s innovative Virtual Cockpit, a fully configurable colour TFT primary gauge cluster positioned in the driver’s direct field of view.

Marking the first time such services have been fully integrated within Audi’s brand-specific infotainment system, its conventional in-house navigation route-guidance and mapping system now combines with Google Maps, allowing those more familiar with the internet-based system to use it instead. The new Q8 concept’s infotainment setup also includes a message centre for incoming SMS messages, emails and calls.

2017 Audi Q8 Concept
Check out the longer video below for some examples of what this stunning system can do. (Photo: Audi)

According to Audi, the seamless integration of Android offers great potential. Android is now the most popular mobile platform globally, with more than 1.4 billion active users. Servicing that platform is an open Android community that’s deep in expertise and creativity, and therefore capable of quickening new application development. Due to on-board Wi-Fi, such new applications could immediately be integrated within any new vehicles’ infotainment system. Additionally, update cycles could be made considerably shorter, plus the diversity of services much wider, and international availability more prevalent.

2017 Audi Q8 Concept
The Q8 Concept’s rear seats look ultra-comfortable, but as importantly rear passengers are digitally connected by a centre touchscreen display. (Photo: Audi)

Aligning with the makers of the most popular smartphone and tablet operating systems only makes sense, being that in-car infotainment is becoming increasingly important in the sale of new cars, some younger buyers choosing their cars partially because of the electronics within. Familiarity to a car’s infotainment interface while on the test drive, including the ability to use it in the same ways as their smartphone or tablet, could make or break the sale of a new vehicle, as well as owner satisfaction once that sale is completed and the customer is in the “getting to know you” stage.

2017 Audi Q8 Concept
This rear display allows rear passengers their own infotainment functions. (Photo: Audi)

Turning to Android’s open source philosophy for future infotainment development is in sharp contrast to Audi rival Lexus and its parent company Toyota, which have eschewed both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in place of their own proprietary systems dubbed Enform and Entune respectively. The latter two systems could very well succeed, but electronics history is littered with proprietary failures like Sony’s Memory Stick that was thwarted by SD cards, the same Japanese brand’s Beta videotapes replaced by VHS, and the list goes on.

Refreshingly, Audi sees a different type of fully connected mobility, where people can “pursue any activity they want in the car of the future.” Audi hopes that its “integrated Android system will enable them to use the entire world of smartphone apps in the car,” which certainly makes a lot of sense to us.

To learn more, check out two videos that show the new Audi Q8 Concept along with some impressive detail of its ultra-advanced Android-based infotainment system. The short version runs for just 50 seconds, whereas the second video runs for 8:30, with the in-depth infotainment demo beginning at 6:35: