The mid-level luxury segment which has always been dominated by the big German 3 has seen some major changes over the last few years. First came a new BMW 3 Series, then a new Mercedes-Benz C-Class and finally recently a British entrant in the form of the Jaguar XE. But in all this time (around 8 years to be precise) the Audi A4 a familiar face to this association remained the same, slowly chugging along but beyond a certain point going quite long in the tooth. It has now introduced the latest generation for the sedan and on the face of it things looks quite promising.
Based on the same MLB evo platform that underpins cars like the Q7 and Bentley Bentayga, it has shed close to hundred kilos, got loaded with a bunch of new tech and received an evolutionary design. So has Audi done enough to make the A4 a winner again? Read on to find out…
At first glance it is hard to tell that this is a completely new car. Everything looks so familiar and it is this strength that Audi has played on when it comes to the A4. Gone are the curves of the B8 generation and in has come a sharper and taut design.
The signature Audi grille has become larger and gets a chrome surround to add to the premium factor. We first saw the matrix LED headlamps on the new A8L and now they have made their way to this new A4. It is here that we can see that the A4 has become wider and sits a bit lower. Also the ORVMs have moved from the sides of the car to the door which adds some muscle and gives it a stronger shoulder line.
Move over to the side and you can see sharpness to a familiar silhouette. There is a soft flare to the wheel arches while the entire glass section has got a chrome outline. It’s a familiar sight at the rear as you get all the elements but with the lines and creases looking sharper than before. The tail lamps are full LED units and have integrated indicators while the badging has been updated.
Audis have never been great lookers and are usually prime examples of silent on the outside but fantastic on the inside. It is this strength that they have played on in the new A4 to make it look different but also retaining a familiar face.
If the outside of this new A4 is a bit dull then the cabin is pretty much the opposite. It is where Audi has spent most of the development budget and quite intelligently. The layout and materials have been revised while the technology list has been updated.
The cabin of our car had been trimmed out in a combination of white leather and black plastics but you can also opt for a full black interior. Adding to the mix are brown coloured India-specific wood inserts as well chrome bezels for all the buttons and knobs.
Both the front seats are electrically adjustable and this means you can inch your way into just the right driving position and this combined with excellent view all around makes for quite an enjoyable driving experience. The increase in length and width means there is more legroom and shoulder room at the rear which is a big improvement over the outgoing model.
The front AC vent has been extended to the length of the dash while the display for the MMI system has become a large freestanding unit. However, the element that impressed us the most was the virtual cockpit which debuted in India with the Q7 SUV. The graphics are impressive and the transition between screens gels nicely with the kind of scientific image that Audi cars have developed. The revised MMI system has become smoother and for the first time supports Android Auto/Apple Car Play.
Audi will first field the B9 generation A4 with a 1.4-litre TFSI petrol engine, the same unit powering the Skoda Octavia base variant. It produces 150bhp and 250Nm of torque with power going to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox.
This is a much smaller engine compared to the 1.8-litre unit that the previous car used and is down on power/torque too but fits in with their plan to offer a more comfort oriented driving experience. Also, this new A4 has shed 95kgs as compared to the older car which means this engine has less weight to lug around.
Thumb the starter button and the A4 comes on with the typical thrum of a four-pot motor. When you get moving, it is hard to notice the downsizing as the car gets off the line easily and at sub three digit speeds the engine is quite smooth letting you glide along comfortably. It is when you need to do some spirited driving that the engine begins to struggle due to its small size. The gearbox quickly drops a few cogs and holds on but you are greeted by a whole lot of noise and quite a bit of engine strain. An unhurried pace with a light right foot is perhaps the best approach to this engine as we discovered that you are able to cruise at 110kmph at just 2000rpm in seventh gear in comfort mode.
What Audi may have taken away in engine capacity, it has given back in ride quality and comfort. Our drive from Bhubaneshwar to Puri took us on some amazing roads as well as some really horrible ones and on both; the A4 was able to hold its own thanks to the supple ride quality. It is a bit on the firmer side but absorbs most bumps and imperfections without sending much back to the cabin. The car is quite stable at three-digit speeds but a vague steering means you are not doing much more than pointing the wheels.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||150 @ 5000-6000rpm|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||250 @ 1500-3500rpm|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||54|
|Tyre size||225/50 R17|
|7.2 inch free standing display||Yes|
|three-zone climate control||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||320i Prestige||C200 Avantgarde||30 TFSI|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||181 @ 5000||184 @ 5500||150 @ 5000-6000rpm|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||270 @ 1350||300 @ 1200||250 @ 1500-3500rpm|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||50||66||54|
|Tyre size||225 /55 R17||225 / 50 R17||225/50 R17|
Continuity is the key- that is perhaps the best term I can use to sum up the new Audi A4. The German automaker has played on all the strengths of the outgoing model and improved on them. It has crammed this car full of new technology and has made the cabin more spacious, things that should swing buyers (both new and old) in favour of the car. Sure the engine is a bit small but then again even now almost 60 per cent of all buyers for A4 use the car with a chauffeur which means that its new comfort oriented identity should bode well for it.
The important bit now is the price. Its chief rivals the BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class are both priced above the Rs 35 lakh mark and if Audi does manage to undercut them then it surely has a winner on its hands.
Photo Courtesy By : Ameya Dandekar