Under the hood of the diesel Audi A4 is the 2.0-litre motor that makes 190bhp between 3,800rpm and 4,200rpm, along with 400Nm of torque ranging from 1,750rpm to 3,000rpm. A seven-speed S-tronic twin-clutch automatic box gets the power on the road through the front wheels. You can hardly hear this refined motor inside the cabin, and even when you step outside, the diesel clatter is remarkably refined. This is one of the better insulated cars that we have come across till date. Off the mark, you might want to go easy on the throttle as anything less than a sedate launch unleashes some torque steer. This actually comes as a nice surprise because it just goes to show how powerful the engine is. As a matter of fact, we never really felt the need for more power in this saloon as the motor responds well to throttle inputs overall. There’s a strong rush of performance post 1,900rpm that sees the needle hurriedly hit the 4,500rpm redline before the transmission swiftly upshifts to the next gear.
The A4 has four driving modes and two gearbox modes (D and S), which is a lot. These gearbox modes - ‘D’ and ‘S’, change the character of the gearbox and it becomes much more responsive in ‘S’. We’ll first talk about the driving modes namely Comfort, Dynamic, Auto and Individual. Comfort mode is the most relaxed of the modes and as soon as you go off the throttle, the transmission quickly upshifts and coasts. In this mode, the gearbox is by default in ‘D’, but if there’s a need for extra acceleration or a need to overtake, you can always just touch the lever and it will go into ‘S’ mode. Here the transmission gets eager to hold a lower gear for instant response.
In Dynamic mode, the gearbox automatically selects ‘S’ to get the best out of the engine. It gets livelier as the transmission slots into an even lower gear to instantly respond for some thrust as soon as the accelerator is depressed. However, in Dynamic mode, the engine tends to get noticeably jerky while trying to let loose the output from the motor. This brings us to the ‘Individual’ setting that allows the user to toggle between Comfort and Dynamic setting for the engine and steering. It allows the user to select ‘Comfort’ steering responses with ‘Dynamic’ engine responses, or vice-versa.
In ‘Auto’ mode, the system mimics the user’s driving style through the throttle position, and automatically adjusts the engine, gearbox and steering response. As always, there’s a ‘Manual’ option which allows the user to shift gears as they please, through gear lever or with the paddle shifters. The A4 registered a time of 7.94sec to 100kmph which is not blisteringly quick because rivals like the Mercedes-Benz C250d and the BMW 320d are quicker with times of 7.3sec and 7.14sec respectively (the A4 bogs down initially as the gearbox goes into safe mode and does not launch properly). However, thanks to the A4’s responsive motor and quick gearbox, it is quicker in the important 20-80kmph and 40-100kmph driveability tests.
The elevated suspension of the A4, exclusively made for India, doesn’t get adaptive dampers. Since this is a rigid setup you feel some pitter-patter at slow speeds over bigger bumps and potholes, but at no point does it get rough for the occupants. As speeds increase the ride gets much better and it rides flat despite the 17-inch wheels. The well-engineered dampers help absorb most undulations and bumps with remarkable poise, and combined with the brilliant cabin insulation, the A4 makes for a great long distance traveller. True, the suspension is not perfect. In fact, it is evidence of sharper imperfections where the suspension tends to thud through them and you can hear it inside the cabin. But it never gets to the point of being uncomfortable.
At higher speeds, the A4 displays excellent straight line stability with a predictable amount of roll. With a steering that’s light and precise, it seems eager to change directions, but a little more steering feedback would have made this saloon more involving to drive. The Comfort and Dynamic modes for the steering response hardly help in this regard as it just weighs up slightly more in Dynamic. On the braking front, the A4 retains impeccable composure under harsh and panic braking situations which ultimately inspires a lot of confidence.