Much of American life, it seems, has been stripped of its refinement.

These days, it’s the loudest and brashest who get the most attention.

The lowest common denominator has won.

You wouldn’t know it, though, by looking at the refreshingly refined 2017 Audi A4, designed, it appears, to rescue us from horrific boy racer body kits and overused off-road styling.

This A4 is longer, lower and wider than the 2016 model. In size and proportion, in fact, it doesn’t look much smaller than the more-expensive A6.

And unlike the previous A4, this one possesses considerable stylistic elegance, even if its taillights look more Asian than European. A handsome, tastefully aggressive grille – the envy of automakers worldwide – caps things off up front.

But it’s the cabin where Audi offers its artful best.

While its funeral-black color scheme could have been chosen to mask any evidence of cheapness, such intentions are not apparent among an interior fit and finish far superior to the previous A4’s already high standard.

Anchoring the large center console is a sizable transmission shifter and a knob that controls the multimedia interface. Thoughtfully, there are switches for navigation, telephone, media, and radio, including station presets.

The only odd note is the center armrest, which doesn’t fully cover the shallow bin below it, leaving a small, inexplicable sliver of the bin exposed. Also puzzling is the tiny slot next it, which seems positively useless for anything except stashing those individually wrapped toothpicks found in diners.

The whole center console sits below intuitively designed climate controls, and above those, is a crisp, clear infotainment screen.

Among all the interior features, however, what’s truly remarkable is the instrument cluster behind the steering wheel. The panel allows you to adjust the size of its gauges and select the information you want displayed in its center (navigation, phone, vehicle information, radio). It’s among the best in the business, as are the steering-wheel-mounted switches that also control it.

Other interior amenities include ambient LED lighting, three-zone automatic climate control, standard leather seating, standard power sunroof, optional heads-up display, Apple CarPlay and Android Audio, and a 755-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system.

Driver accommodations are, well, accommodating, allowing for a perfect driving position, lots of forward-backward seat travel, and remarkable comfort over hours-long drives. Despite this A4’s longer length and more gracious front seat accommodations, the back seat is still very tight on legroom.

That’ll hardly cross your mind, though, while driving this machine, which is powered by Audi’s ubiquitous turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and Quattro all-wheel drive. In the A4, that’s good for 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque.

That may not sound like much, but this vehicle, base price $37,300, is more than sprightly enough to put a grin on your face.

There’s little evidence of turbo lag in its snappy response, and if you feel like taking control, you can shift manually, though the transmission handles things quite well on its own.

All this is matched by a chassis that sublimely combines compliance and agility to keep things fun once civilization fades into your rearview mirror, the foliage thickens, and the road turns twisty. It’s here that the A4 casts aside its office togs and becomes a party animal capable of delivering the sorts of thrills you’d expect from a great sports sedan but with a surprising amount of comfort.

The steering is quick, the brakes strong, and the suspension delivers just enough feedback to keep you informed. The steering is numb, though perfectly weighted, which makes finding this car’s limits a bit of a guess.

All in all, the new A4 will certainly surprise you, even if you’re a little put off by how little its outward appearance has evolved. But even there, it has changed, becoming fresher and more modern.

The car is quietly and defiantly sophisticated, which given the current presidential election, the movies at the multiplex and our public life in general, is a quality America could certainly use more of.

That’s what makes the A4 worth seeking out; it’s a beacon of hope in a country once known for it.

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