The redesigned 2009 Audi A4 luxury sport sedan gained further validation of its segment-leading qualities by earning the U.S. government's highest crashworthiness and rollover safety rating.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the A4 achieved the coveted 5-Star designation based on its performance in the New Car Assessment Program, or NCAP. U.S. law requires all passenger cars to pass a 30 mph frontal crash test and a 33.5 mph side crash test. But the NCAP tests involve crashes that are conducted at 5 mph above the required test speeds providing additional consumer safety information. NHTSA then gives ratings of one star for the worst performers to five stars for the best models, such as the Audi A4.

"Unparalleled safety is a cornerstone of Audi's new vehicle development and we are thrilled to see the A4 earn top marks in one of the toughest crash testing programs in the world," said Audi of America Inc. Executive Vice President Johan de Nysschen. "Add this to other elements, including segment-leading fuel economy, engine performance, luxury features and size, which all prove the 2009 A4 is at the head of its class."

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The 2009 Audi A4 officially went on sale to American luxury car buyers in late September. The A4 offers advanced safety features and accident-prevention technologies in addition to a significantly stiffer and smoother body shell to protect motorists and passengers. Among the key safety features:

• Front, side and side-curtain airbags are standard equipment in every A4.

• The available dynamic steering system helps stabilize the vehicle several times a second when it detects the car is exceeding its capabilities.

• Available Adaptive cruise control detects a vehicle ahead of the A4 and gently reduces the car's speed as the distance narrows. Once the road clears, the system slowly accelerates back to the set cruise control speed.

The A4 also offers superior handling due to a front track that is 2.5 inches wider than the closest competing BMW model and nearly an inch wider than the closest Lexus. It also offers more front row shoulder and head room than competing luxury models and a smoother ride helped by the longest wheelbase in its class. The A4 also features a new 2.0-liter TFSI engine that generates 211 hp and 258-lbs-ft. of torque while getting 15 percent better fuel economy than the turbocharged engine it replaces. The improved 3.2-liter engine produces 265 hp and 243 lbs-ft of torque with a 10 percent gain in fuel economy. The new engines are paired with an all-new 6-speed transmission to provide precise shifting and fuel efficiency.