The Audi A4 has been a strong seller in India. It might not be the most talked about car in its class, but according to Audi it has been the most consistent in terms of sales, the advent of newer and updated competitors notwithstanding. And with the introduction of this, the latest generation of the A4, due in a couple of months time in India, Audi believes, it has a winner on its hands.
The new A4 is based on a completely different platform from the existing car. It uses the Volkswagen Group’s new, more technologically advanced MLB platform and it will be assembled in India when launched. The new car is 120kg lighter than the current car; is longer and wider; and it sits on a longer wheelbase too. It also gets an updated, more powerful version of the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine. And this time round, it is mated to a 7-speed dual clutch automatic instead of a CVT as seen on the current A4. Here’s what it is like…
As we mentioned, the new A4 is bigger than the current car in every dimension. And this is obvious when one looks at the car in the flesh. What’s also obvious is that Audi designers haven’t been too adventurous with the new car’s design. It is more of an evolution of the current car. But, it does look smarter and more premium.
The headlights are new and now come with the option of Matrix LEDs. The hood gets four clear ridges to add visual muscle to the car. And besides that gaping chrome grille, the latest Audi design signature, the new A4 also has a better-defined bumper, the lower half in particular. It still has similar proportions in profile though, and even at the rear, there’s no real awe inducing style element. The new tail lamps, however, do look much nicer now.
The telling change in design is on the inside of the new A4. It borrows the same design cues as its larger SUV sibling, the Q7. So, the dash flow is focused towards the driver with all possible elements, controls and readouts laid out such that the driver has easier access. A single slab like design that houses air vents and little else dominates the rest of the dash. Overall, not only is it pleasing but also gives the insides of the new A4 a sense of maturity and width, as if it were a much larger car.
Quality has gone up too. The plastic, the metal, the wood, and even the leather used looks and feel opulent. And Audi has done a brilliant job with the operability of the various buttons, dials, toggles and rollers its interior is flooded with. There’s crispness and positivity and a tactile feel to them all. The seats have improved and there’s more interior room all round. The new A4 feels more spacious and welcoming as well.
Equipment wise, the new A4 for India will get leather upholstery, the virtual cockpit design (already seen on the Audi TT and the new Audi Q7), two-zone climate control with rear AC vents, the latest MMI system, and even the option of a Bang and Olufsen 3D surround sound system. In terms of safety, ABS, ESP and six airbags will be offered as standard.
The new A4 might also get Audi Drive Select which with its five modes – Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Efficiency and Individual – changes the steering effort, the gearbox shift characteristics and the throttle response to suit a particular mood. So, Dynamic with its heavier steering, its sharper throttle response and quicker shift times, is for those who enjoy driving enthusiastically, while Comfort with its lazier responses in comparison, works well for straight line highway cruising. And Efficiency should suit city commuting well.
The new A4 is lighter than the current car we already know that. But, Audi has also worked on the car’s multi link suspension front and back to give the new A4 better driving dynamics. Even though it is larger than before, on the road, and especially around bends, the new A4 feels tighter and more manageable than the current car. Its steering still isn’t great in terms of feel, but the response and alertness makes it feel light-footed.
The ride, at least on the European spec car we drove with 45 profile tyres, wasn’t great. The roads in general in and around Munich are smooth, but whatever little manhole covers and uneven surfaces we encountered, the new A4’s stiffer suspension setup proved to be both noisy and a little harsh. But, for India, with the rough road package and higher profile tyres, we expect the ride to be significantly better.
The engine, with more power and torque and a lighter car at its disposal, feels quite peppy. It still is the 2.0-litre diesel that powers the current A4, but has been improved to deliver more power and torque and higher fuel efficiency. It makes 188bhp of max power and 400Nm of peak torque putting it level with the quickest car in the class, the BMW 3 Series.
And it feels alive and effortless to drive. One rarely needs to rev it past 2,000rpm courtesy strong pulling power and a very reactive DSG gearbox. The car is quieter inside the cabin as well and it’s only when you choose to drive the car in Sport mode (activated via the gear shifter) can you hear the engine drone inside thanks to the diesel unit’s refusal to settle below the 2,000rpm mark.
|Variant||2.0 TDI S tronic|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||188bhp @ 3800RPM|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||400NM @ 1750-3000RPM|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||40|
|Tyre size||225/50 R17|
|Virtual cockpit design (All digital intrument cluster)||Yes|
|Audi's latest MMI system||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||2.0 TDI S tronic||320d|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||188bhp @ 3800RPM||188bhp @ 400RPM|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||400NM @ 1750RPM||400Nm @ 1750RPM|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||40||57|
|Tyre size||225/50 R17||225/50 R17|
The new A4 should be in showrooms around August. It is expected to come with three engine options. A 1.8-litre turbo petrol powering only the front wheels, a 3.0-litre diesel with quattro and a 2.0-litre diesel again with only front-wheel-drive. The latter, the car we have driven here, is bound to be the mainstay. Each of these engines is then likely to come in three trims – Premium, Premium Plus and Technology.
This should allow Audi to price the new A4 competitively to begin with. It could also mean the new A4 might actually be priced lower than the current car (as was the case with the new Q7). If Audi can do that, the new A4 is bound to be more successful than the current model given it is significantly better in almost every way compared to the current car.