The Audi A4 has undergone a few hardware and lineup changes for 2021. There is no longer a front-wheel-drive model, which means all 2021 Audi A4s have Quattro all-wheel drive. What’s more, the base 2.0-liter engine, which used to put out 188 horsepower, now generates 201 hp, thanks to an integral new 12-volt mild hybrid system that adds 13 hp.
Let’s put the A4 in context: It’s not as much of a driver’s car as the BMW 3 Series, nor is it quite as luxurious as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Rather, the Audi A4 shines because it’s a polished package with a superb interior, great technology, and it’s also available as the practical and capable A4 Allroad wagon.
For drivers craving more performance and excitement, Audi delivers with the S4. This model packs a potent turbocharged V6 engine and other upgraded hardware. It’s quite a sleeper, with the looks of an A4 but gratifying acceleration that will leave most other vehicles in your rearview mirror.
What’s New for 2021?
The looks of the A4 were updated for 2020, so changes this year are limited to hardware and equipment packages. Most notably, all 2021 Audi A4s have Quattro AWD, and the engine in the A4 40 TFSI Quattro model is a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 that now puts out 201 hp. The powertrain features a belt-driven 12-volt mild hybrid system contributing 13 hp to that output.
Also increased in power is the 2021 Audi A4 45 TSI Quattro. It had 248 hp last year, but now has 261, again thanks to the new mild hybrid system that goes basically unnoticed by the driver.
Other major changes: Wireless Apple CarPlay is standard on the 2021 Audi A4, and so is a lane-departure warning system. See the Audi A4 models for sale near you
What We Like
- All A4s are now Quattros
- Sharp styling
- Beautiful interior
- Cool technology
- More power for 2021
- Good ride quality
- Allroad is a good SUV alternative
- S4 looks conservative, performs beautifully
What We Don’t
- Blind-spot warning should be standard
- Why are rear-side airbags optional?
- No manual transmission
- Allroad’s body cladding looks rugged, but it’s plastic
- Dual-clutch transmission can be clunky at parking lot speeds
- A4 –- $39,100-$49,800
- A4 Allroad –- $44,600-$54,500
- S4 performance sedan – $49,900-$58,200
The 2021 Audi A4 40 TFSI Quattro uses a 201-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder and is rated by the EPA at 25 miles per gallon in the city, 34 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg in combined driving.
The 2021 Audi A4 45 TSI Quattro, whose 2.0-liter turbo-4 is tuned to make 261 hp, is rated at 24 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined.
The 2021 Audi A4 Allroad Quattro, which also uses the 261-hp engine, is rated at 24 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined.
All 2021 A4 models use a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Finally, the 2021 Audi S4 performance sedan with its 349-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 is rated at 20 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined. The S4 uses an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Like many other new cars, the Audi A4 and S4 have an automatic stop-start system that saves fuel at stoplights. It can be disabled by the driver if desired.
Both versions of the turbo 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with 201 or 261 hp have an automatic stop-start system that saves fuel at stoplights.
Standard Features & Options
The 2021 Audi A4, A4 Allroad and S4 are offered in Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels.
The base model, the A4 40 TFSI Quattro Premium, has 17-in forged alloy wheels, wireless Apple CarPlay, the Audi Virtual Cockpit, a walnut interior trim and heated front seats.
If you order an A4 40 TFSI Quattro Premium Plus, it adds 18-in alloy wheels, adaptive cruise control, a handy top-view camera system and two rear USB ports.
The A4 40 TFSI Quattro Prestige improves on that with a powerful Bang & Olufsen sound system, a head-up display and a navigation package.
The Audi A4 45 TFSI Quattro models, the ones powered by a 261-hp 2.0-liter, are similarly equipped at each level, but the base A4 45 rides on 18-in wheels, not 17 inches.
The most common option package on the 2021 Audi A4 is a $1,800 Convenience Package that includes Sirius XM radio, an anti-theft alarm, blind spot warning, keyless entry/ignition, a heated steering wheel and front and rear parking sensors. Other packages are a $1,500 navigation system and a $1,300 Warm Weather Package with vented seats and rear sunshades.
The A4 45 TFSI Quattro also can be ordered with a few more items, most notably an S Line interior package with brushed aluminum trim ($500), a Black Optic package with gloss-black exterior trim ($500) and 19-in black alloy wheels with summer tires ($800).
Stand-alone options on the 2021 A4 are a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system ($950), rear-side airbags ($350) and sport suspension ($500) that lowers the car by about an inch.
The A4 Allroad lineup largely mirrors that of the sedan, with the addition of a power liftgate.
The S4 model also features similar features in its trim walk, but adds a more powerful V6 engine, 18-in wheels as standard, limited-slip differential, and diamond-stitched seating.
The S4 Premium can be optioned with a convenience package that includes driver’s memory seat, blind-spot monitoring, heated mirrors and SiriusXM satellite radio. Higher trims can be had with adaptive damping suspension, sport rear differential, dynamic steering package and Nappa leather.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given the 2021 Audi A4 a 5-Star Overall Safety Rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has given the A4 a coveted “Top Safety Pick+” designation.
While the Audi A4 and A4 Allroad come standard with automatic emergency braking, other features such as blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control are reserved for upper trim levels. Even side-impact rear airbags are an option.
Behind the Wheel
The 2021 Audi A4 feels neutral, responsive and sprightly. Especially the A4 45 TFSI Quattro model with 261 hp. With standard Quattro AWD, these compact Audi sedans power out of turns with reassuring stability.
The Virtual Cockpit digital gauge display that’s standard beginning on Premium Plus trims shows regular information such as road and engine speeds, but it also brings the navigational map right in front of the driver. This full-color feature was a major factor in Autotrader’s decision to mention the A4 in our 2017 list of 10 Best Car Interiors Under $50,000. In all trim levels, cabin space and the quality of materials are impressive.
If there’s one gripe, it’s this: The A4’s steering, though precise and substantial, isn’t as tactile as we’d like. Perhaps this is apparent only because the rest of the car is so good, especially in its ability to blend comfort with control.
The A4 Allroad has an extra 1.3 inches of ground clearance over the sedan, which enables it to take muddy or snowy roads in stride.
We think the Audi S4 is a stellar sedan in its own right. It combines the standard A4’s excellent manners and injects a wallop more power. Its turbo V6 enables 0-60 mph blasts of just 4.4 seconds, and its sport-tuned suspension makes it a joy to fling around corners but not at the expense of cruising comfort. Most of all, we like that the S4 is subtle. If you’re looking for an amazing sleeper among compact luxury sedans, the S4 is it.
Other Cars to Consider
2021 BMW 3 Series — This is the one all your friends will get. It’s still the prototypical midsize sports sedan for driving enthusiasts.
2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class — The midsize Benz offers plenty of luxury, equipment and performance.
2021 Genesis G70 — A credible alternative to sporty rivals. It has a small back seat and lots of equipment for the money. It even offers a manual transmission.
2021 Volvo V60 Cross Country — This A4 Allroad competitor was new for 2019. This Scandinavian take on European luxury can be ordered with an actual wool interior.
2021 Subaru Outback — Not a luxury car, but it should be cross-shopped with the Audi A4 Allroad. It has most of the features of the A4 Allroad for about two-thirds of the price. Outback Touring models will be the best comparison.
Used Audi A6 — A bit larger and not as tech-rich as a new A4, but a used A6 offers refined manners, a gorgeous interior and an exterior that’s standing the test of time.
Used Volvo V90 Cross Country — This rugged wagon version of its S90 sedan depreciates quickly, so it’s a good alternative for an A4 Allroad. Look for a certified pre-owned one.
Used Volkswagen Golf Alltrack — If the A4 Allroad is a bit of a stretch, look into this corporate cousin, another AWD wagon. Several used 2019 VW Alltracks can be found on Autotrader.com for between $20,000 and $25,000.
Questions You May Ask
Where is the Audi A4 made?
The A4, S4 and the A4 Allroad come to the U.S. from Audi’s factory in Ingolstadt, Germany.
Is the 2021 Audi A4 a reliable car?
How much horsepower does the base 2021 Audi A4 have?
The base A4, called the Audi A4 40 TFSI Quattro, now has 201 hp, up 13 from last year.
Is there a sportier version of the Audi A4?
Yes. It’s called the Audi S4, and it’s powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 with 349 hp. Order the AudiSport rear differential.
Does the 2021 Audi A4 have adaptive cruise control?
It does. Adaptive cruise is standard on the 2021 Audi A4 Premium Plus.
Does Audi make an A4 wagon or an A4 coupe?
In a way. The 2021 Audi A4 Allroad effectively is a raised Audi A4 wagon. And the Audi A5 coupe shares many components with the A4.
Forget the standard 2021 Audi A4 40 TFSI Quattro model and opt for the A4 45 TFSI Quattro. It has 60 more hp, and it costs only $1,800 more. It’s also available with better options, such as the Black Optic package, 19-in black wheels and the S Line interior package with brushed aluminum inlays and leather/Alcantara seats. As for trims, we recommend starting the Premium Plus or higher. That way you’ll get blind-spot monitoring, Audi Virtual Cockpit, adaptive cruise control, top-view camera and more standard. Whichever A4 you choose, though, you’ll be getting a car that has been substantively improved for 2021. Find an Audi A4 for sale