As one of Audi India’s biggest selling models, the A4 has a reputation to uphold. Now I wasn’t entirely swayed with the previous-gen B8 A4 I drove some time ago – while the fit and finish of the cabin and overall refinement felt impressive even after all these years, it was a let-down dynamically and the cabin itself didn’t feel special anymore. Fortunately, Audi India got around these shortcomings when it rolled out an entirely new A4 in petrol form late last year.
Now, after much wait, the brand has launched the latest-gen A4 with a highly efficient 2-litre diesel engine. But is that enough to garner fresh interest? Audi India thinks so.
The A4 diesel shares its design with the petrol-powered model, meaning it looks neat, classy and inoffensive in typical Audi fashion. The understated yet impressive design is part of the reason Audi has revelled in big success with B7 and B8 gen A4 models that have aged rather well.
This latest-gen A4 is slightly longer and wider than its predecessor but retains the balanced stance nonetheless. That said, there is a lot more in terms of sharp creases and clever detailing than the previous car; the front-end for instance houses the signature Audi grille which sits lower and is broader than before. The all LED headlights, too, are different with their serrated lower edges.
Like the headlamps, the rear lights are also LEDs with the sharp recesses in their detailing. Interestingly, the only design bit differentiating the diesel model is the twin exhaust pipes (petrol-powered A4 gets a single tailpipe). Overall, despite the sharpened front, there’s comparatively less in the way of dramatic swoops and creases and more in the way of understated modesty that we have come to expect from Audi sedans.
It’s inside the cabin the new A4 really shines. Audi, as we know, tends to invest a lot in the interiors of their cars – a fact that holds true with this executive sedan. Everything from the fit and finish and the layout of dash and instruments, offer a perception of luxury that is missing in some of the competitors. The design of the dash is strictly focused on horizontal lines, as seen on the band of air vents. The latter are arranged over the sloping and remarkably thin dashboard.
Undoubtedly the highlight of the cabin remains the 12.3-inch instrument panel which Audi refers to as the Virtual Cockpit. This all-digital cluster gets beautifully detailed graphics and several interfaces for infotainment and driver’s settings.
Again, the cabin is identical to the petrol-powered A4 that we tested earlier. You get the same sense of airiness and supremely comfortable seating for up to four occupants. Thanks to the lower half of the dash being so thin, legroom in the front is excellent and the seats themselves come with enough side and base bolsters to hold you in. That said, the rear seat is even better with great deal of cushioning and a perfectly angled seatback. The improvement in rear seat accommodation of the new A4 is apparent as soon as you settle in – there’s good thigh support and more than enough legroom for even tall occupants. The 480-litre boot, too, is fairly large and fully usable thanks to a neatly tucked away space saver unlike most of its rivals.
The petrol-powered A4 may have a relatively small engine for its class but this diesel-powered model is right up there with the rest when it comes to displacement and power figures. Speaking of which, the 2-litre, four-cylinder turbo diesel motor makes 190bhp of power and 400Nm of torque. More importantly, the new A4 diesel is quite a bit lighter than the old car (thanks to usage of aluminium in construction) which means the engine has less weight to lug around.
This motor has always been a sprightly and willing little thing and now with the less weight and a much quicker dual-clutch automatic gearbox (as against the CVT in the old A4), performance is strong right from the word go. There is a hint of turbo lag at lower revs but because of the broad torque band, this engine pulls strong once past 1,800rpm, revving out till 4,500rpm without sounding coarse at all. It is, in fact, incredibly refined for the most part and remains quiet and smooth even when worked hard.
There’s a clean surge of power off the line and the A4 diesel gets up to speed rapidly enough. So much so that it does 0-100kmph in 7.94 seconds which is impressive considering that the more powerful Mercedes C250d hits the same mark in 7.34 seconds. That said, it’s the BMW 320d M-Sport that’s still the quickest accelerating executive sedan, taking just 7.14 seconds (thanks to launch control). In terms of in-gear acceleration, the Audi’s got the better of its rivals – it took all of 5.79 seconds to complete the 40-100kmph sprint, as against 6.12 seconds and 5.87 seconds for the 320d and C250d respectively. The A4’s surprisingly quick in-gear times has a lot to do with the 7-speed DSG that now comes as standard. As you would expect, this dual-clutch unit manages shifts with superb intuition, swapping cogs quickly when worked hard. Even under normal driving conditions, the gearshifts are silky smooth and right when you need them. Thankfully, the indecisive response from standstill – a typical DSG trait – can be hardly felt in this car. The different driving modes (including Comfort, Dynamic, Auto and Individual) do not change the way the suspension works but they do alter the DSG’s responsiveness – the gearbox hangs onto lower gears, shifts up at higher rpm in Dynamic and in Comfort, begins freewheeling as soon as you get off the throttle.
The A4’s ride quality can be best described as supple, overall. At low speeds, it is on the firmer side as it picks up sharp-edged pot holes and exposed road elements to a greater degree than something like a C-Class. That being said, the firmer setup pays dividend at highway speeds; the compliant ride errs on the comfort side of things and manages to deal with undulations and road imbalances much better than the old car. Despite the lack of adaptive dampers on the India-spec model, the A4 rides well and handles decently – the electrically-assisted steering lacks feel for the most part but makes light work of city driving.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||190bhp @ 4200|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||400Nm @ 1750|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||54|
|Tyre size||225/55 R17|
|MMI infotainment system||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||190bhp @ 4200||188bhp @ 4000|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||400Nm @ 1750||400Nm @ 1750|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||54||57|
|Tyre size||225/55 R17||225/50R17|
Audi India has truly nailed the brief with new A4 diesel. Slightly bigger but immensely better than its predecessor in every regard, the 2017 A4 subjectively looks good and is loaded with technology and features to complement its Rs 42 lakh ex-showroom price tag.
Like its petrol-powered sibling, the A4 35 TDI is an impressive all-rounder, packing refinement and fit and finish that some far more expensive cars cannot quite match. Sure, it’s not exactly a looker and neither is it as fun to drive as its rivals but for those looking for a quiet and comfortable executive sedan with stellar efficiency, the A4 is right on the money.