I have a 2007 Audi A4 wagon that’s nearing the end of its lease. As I figure out what car to get next, I’ve been thinking about the problems with this car. Maybe I’m more critical about it since it’s the most expensive car I’ve had, but I think that’s OK. If I’m paying more, I should get more. I’m not sure that I did, and I definitely won’t be spending this much on my next car. Based on this experience, I’m just not sure that there’s a big enough benefit.

Many of the faults of this Audi A4 (it’s a 2007, by the way) stem from the on-board computer system, the RNS-E. This is what you get if you opt for the navigation (about $2000). But it takes on tasks like the radio, and the Bluetooth phone, and it doesn’t absorb these functions well at all.

OK – here’s the list:

  1. Turbo Lag – Wow. Is that really the way this is supposed to be? I don’t need zero-to-60 in under 7 seconds. What I need is zero-to-10. Sometime. Today. I’ve become gutless about pulling out into traffic.
  2. Lack of Driver Memory – Basic memory including seat position and mirror position is all I’m asking for. Most cars with power seats have this. How can this $40,000 car not have this? Ah, but it does have memory in one regard: the heat and AC system. That’s right. When my wife puts her key in, it remembers what temperature she likes. Very useful. Also, my valets can have their own temperature setting. Great. What brilliant mind came up with this?
  3. The Bluetooth Noises, take 1 – Each time I get in the car, when I’m listening to the radio (no choice on that – see below) the sound gets interrupted about five seconds later with a “brring” noise to tell me that my phone has been connected to the car via Bluetooth. Every time. No way to turn this off. Typically, I’m listening to a news story, and I miss something. No way to rewind, of course. And some mind at Audi decided that the icon on the screen showing that the phone is connected isn’t good enough. You also need an audible, non-cancelable alert. Thanks for that.
  4. The Bluetooth Noises, take 2 – Each time I place a call, I get a very, very loud buzz for a few seconds. This happens with three different phones my family uses with this car (all iPhones, to be sure, but I doubt that’s it). It’s so irritating. I grit my teeth each time this happens.
  5. Radio Presets – Presets are there to save time, right? To make changing stations more convenient, right? So I thought. In this car, each time I start the car again, I have to switch to the FM/AM mode on the computer, and then hit memory, and then go back to wherever I was, just to get the preset buttons to work the presets. Turn off the car, and I start from scratch. Otherwise, the preset buttons go through each station on the dial. Yeah, now that’s useful.
  6. Navigation Default – Has anyone ever, ever seen a navigation system in a car that doesn’t default to a ‘map’ view? Well, I’ve got one for ya! This RNS-E defaults to a screen where you can enter an address or do a search or whatever. Changing to the map is another click away. No way to change this default. Is Audi ahead of the curve on this one, and every other car navigation manufacturer on the planet will soon default to a text view? I think not.
  7. MP3 CDs – This car has a six disc changer in the glove compartment. But, for some reason, this will only play CDs in the old audio format. Not MP3s. But you can play an MP3 CD in the navigation system. To do that, you just have to take out the navigation DVD. So then you don’t have navigation. Something’s wrong here if the technology is actually in the car, but not used in both places. Also, the SD slots can play MP3s off SD cards. Don’t even get me started on how complex that is, but suffice it to say it defaults to a track in a subdirectory, until you press the “return” button to move up a directory. It’s always just one click away, with this thing. But why?
  8. The Cup Holder Under the Armrest – I know, it’s a relatively small car. But I think this could have been designed better, somehow. The shifter could be further forward, or the cup holder could be beside it. I’m pretty sure there’s a better answer out there, beyond having to ditch the armrest to put a second cup of coffee in there.
  9. Premium Gas – Given the performance of this car, it should be fine with regular gas. But it gets even worse without the expensive stuff.
  10. Brake Noise – Of course, the dealer blames this on not being able to use asbestos. And they tell me that my brakes are fine and that I just need to jam them hard every now and then to loosen the particles that make the squeak. Again, on a $40,000 car? They need to figure this one out.

When I’m in a better mood about this thing, maybe I’ll write up the top ten things like I like about it. There are certainly some plusses. But, years later, I still have buyer’s remorse. For $10K less, I’ll probably end up with a Passat.