2019 Audi A4 vs. 2019 Subaru WRX

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Audi A4 have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Subaru WRX doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The A4’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The WRX doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The A4 has standard Secondary Collision Brake Assist, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The WRX doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

When descending a steep, off-road slope, the A4’s standard Hill Descent Control allows you to creep down safely. The WRX doesn’t offer Hill Descent Control.

The A4 Prestige has a standard Top and Corner View Cameras to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The WRX only offers a rear monitor.

Both the A4 and the WRX have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

The A4 comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The WRX’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The A4’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the WRX’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

The Audi A4’s engines use a cast iron block for durability, while the WRX’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the A4’s engine. A rubber belt that needs periodic replacement drives the WRX STI’s camshafts. If the WRX’s cam drive belt breaks the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the A4’s reliability 40 points higher than the WRX.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Audi vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 25th in initial quality. With 10 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 28th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Audi vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Audi 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 26 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 24th.

Engine

The A4 45 TFSI’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 15 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 258) than the WRX’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the A4 45 TFSI is faster than the Subaru WRX 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. (automatics tested):

 

A4

WRX

Zero to 60 MPH

5.2 sec

5.5 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

13.9 sec

14.4 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6 sec

6.4 sec

Quarter Mile

13.9 sec

14.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100 MPH

99 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the A4 45 TFSI Quattro gets better fuel mileage than the WRX Auto (23 city/34 hwy vs. 18 city/24 hwy).

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the A4’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The WRX doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Audi A4 uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The WRX requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Audi A4 higher (3 to 5 out of 10) than the Subaru WRX (1). This means the A4 produces up to 39 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the WRX every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

The Audi A4 comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the WRX.

The A4 offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The WRX doesn’t offer an SMG.

The A4 Auto’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The WRX doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

The A4’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs standard on the WRX are solid, not vented.

The A4 stops shorter than the WRX:

 

A4

WRX

 

70 to 0 MPH

155 feet

160 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

105 feet

112 feet

Motor Trend

Suspension and Handling

The A4 offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The WRX’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the A4’s wheelbase is 5.7 inches longer than on the WRX (110 inches vs. 104.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the A4 is 1.7 inches wider in the front and .6 inches wider in the rear than on the WRX.

The A4’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (56% to 44%) than the WRX’s (58.4% to 41.6%). This gives the A4 more stable handling and braking.

The A4 Premium Plus Quattro handles at .92 G’s, while the WRX pulls only .89 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The A4 Premium Plus Quattro executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the WRX (25.3 seconds @ .74 average G’s vs. 25.7 seconds @ .72 average G’s).

Chassis

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the A4 Prestige Quattro is quieter than the WRX STI:

 

A4

WRX

At idle

42 dB

54 dB

Full-Throttle

70 dB

80 dB

70 MPH Cruising

63 dB

75 dB

Passenger Space

The A4 has .3 inches more front shoulder room, .3 inches more rear headroom, .3 inches more rear legroom and .3 inches more rear shoulder room than the WRX.

Cargo Capacity

The A4 has a larger trunk than the WRX (13 vs. 12 cubic feet).

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the A4 offers cargo security. The WRX’s non-lockable folding seat and non-lockable remote release defeat cargo security.

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the A4 has a standard power trunk, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button, or optionally by just kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The WRX doesn’t offer a power trunk.

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Audi service is better than Subaru. J.D. Power ranks Audi third in service department satisfaction. With a 45% lower rating, Subaru is ranked 18th.

Ergonomics

When two different drivers share the A4, the optional memory seats and mirrors make it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position and outside mirror angle. The WRX doesn’t offer a memory system.

The A4 has a standard heads-up display that projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The WRX doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the A4 and the WRX have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the A4 is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The WRX prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The A4’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The WRX’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

If the windows are left open on the A4 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. The driver of the WRX can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The A4’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The WRX’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the A4 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The WRX doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The A4 has standard headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The WRX doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The A4 has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The WRX has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the STI/Limited.

The A4 offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The WRX offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The A4 has standard heated front seats. Heated front seats are only available on the WRX Premium/Limited/STI. The A4 also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the WRX.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the A4 keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The WRX doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the A4’s optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The WRX doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The A4 has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the WRX STI.

Both the A4 and the WRX offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the A4 has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The WRX doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

Model Availability

The A4 is available in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations. The WRX doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the A4 owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the A4 will cost $145 less than the WRX over a five-year period.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® chose the Audi A4 as its “Top Pick,” the highest scoring vehicle in its category, based on reliability, safety and performance.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the A4 first among compact premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The WRX isn’t in the top three in its category.

The Audi A4/S4 outsold the Subaru WRX by 30% during the 2018 model year.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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