It is fun to drive. Very peppy engine (V6, 5 valves per cylinder) and very slick shifting 5 spd. transmission. Great road holding. Short turn radius for an AWD car. Not as luxurious as a current A4, or even A3, but a lot more fun to drive.
I bought this car 2 years ago with 195000 miles on it for $2500... now I got it as a winter beater and its sole purpose was for me to have some fun in the snow. Jump 24 months later and it's almost like I have a 3rd child, I absolutely love this car! Okay so let me start off by saying that the car was not perfect when I got it. Be weary of coil packs and suspension components on this car. I knew what I was getting into, because I've owned german cars before and follow car tuning forums. So if you're looking to buy this car, please get it with a carfax and buy from a responsible person. The previous owner of my car had it for 12 years and kept it completely stock! Since I've had it, I've upgraded to coilovers and had a performance chipped installed as well as a new diverter valve. I did all the preventative maintenance for the car the very first month I got it. Regardless of what the previous owner told me.. I redid the oil change, I rotated the tires and realigned the car. I also had the car checked out by an independent Audi Specialists who personally gave me the thumbs up. Without going into detail, I spend an additional 3k on top of the 2.5K on the car just to make sure it was in top shape. Some of you may think I'm crazy.. but here's the deal, at the end of the day I got a 200hp turbo, all wheel drive, stick shift, german car for $5500 with no check engine lights, no oil leaks, no ABS issues, no airbag lights... no regrets! The car is an absolute blast to drive, what's so great about it, is that you won't catch any attention and you won't have a car that looks like everyone has one. In my opinion the car looks beautiful and is so very simple. BTW I've driven this car on Angeles Crest on many occasions and not once has it ever over heated or gave me trouble. Excellent car for tuners and a great car for someone who just wants to have a fun driving experience with the added safety of the quattro system. Before I conclude this brief review, I must let everyone know that this car will treat you right BUT you must treat it right, meaning you must keep it fed with premium gas as well as use only synthenic oil and OEM fluids. Please please please don't cheap out on these things. My Audi as 210000 miles and is still on the original stock turbo.
I love my a4. I bought it used over a year ago, and haven't had too spend TOO much money fixing it up. Of course, some things have gone wrong, but thanks to a large internet owner's community, you can easily fix many problems yourself if you are willing to learn some DIY. I have never once regretted buying it.
IMO, it is very fun to drive and never gets old. While not a rally car by any means, it has more than enough power to get you where you need much faster than you probably should get there. Overall, mine has been pretty reliable; I fixed the headlight switch myself for less than 10$, and I am getting ready to replace a leaky gasket and a stripped tie rod (both around 100$). The ride is great, the steering feels sharp, and the interior looks brilliant. Or at least it did before the previous owner smashed up the plastic console covers which cost $170 to replace.
It really doesn't get good gas mileage, which works in my favor because it means I can convince my friends with more efficient cars to drive when we are all going somewhere. The headlights are nearly useless (assuming mine are OEM), the engine can be difficult to get around and work on, and the terrible cup holders were clearly designed by people who only drank beer and were therefore not allowed to bring their beverages in cars with them. There is also an annoying whispering sound produced by the A/C (which is quite good), but you get used to it. The car is low, and because the oil pan is located at the bottom of the front of the car, you need to be careful about hitting bumps too hard.
I bought this car with 113k on the clock and it is in great condition. It has 125k on it now and I intend to drive it till 400k if it'll let me. The v6 engine is awesome but know you are not getting any modification potential other than exhaust. Performance chips are worthless for this engine. It corners great for a bigger car and the torque this engine provides makes it great for around town driving. This is my first lux AWD sedan and with the 5spd it is easily my favorite car owned so far. Very sleek exterior and interior. The build quality is top notch and the 2.8 has been extremely reliable as long as you keep up with maintenance. I couldn't have bought a better car.
Quattro: The AWD system is awesom and handles extremely well for a heavier car.
Suspension: The suspension is comfy but also very tight with a small amout of body roll but not as much as expected from a stock luxury sedan. very sporty.
2.8L: The 2.8L is a powerful and efficient engine. It is quick enough and the MPG(US) is averaging 24.5mpg.
Build Quality: The interior build quality is what I love the most. the dash is sleek and doesn't rattle like some of my other economy cars, (1996-1999 jettas)
Performance: The 2.8L engine is not the most powerful thing around and is probably quite heavy. thus the front bias is more than the 1.8T. Lesser handling.
MPG: I get 24.5mpg at 75% highway driving. That is probably the best you can get with this car. It isn't terrible for a v6 with 200hp but it isn't a 4cyl either.
Snotty factor: I love this car to death and bought it with 113k for $3000. the paint is awesome, the car has no problems and it is extremely clean. I can't help but get the feeling people look at me and resent me like my parents gave me this car free. Good and bad I guess.
Maint. cost: The parts cost a premium for Audis. Do the work yourself, nuff said.