What is it?
This is the new generation of the Audi A4 and it will replace the current car in India in only a couple of months. As with the current model, the new A4’s mainstay will be the 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine. However, in its improved avatar, the engine now makes 188bhp and a massive 400Nm of torque. And that puts it level with the BMW 3 Series, one of the more powerful and torquey diesel cars in its class.
What’s more, the new car is longer, wider and it sits on a longer wheelbase compared to the current A4. And it looks better too on the outside. The new Matrix LED headlights, the sculpted hood with four prominent ridges, and the gaping chrome grille give the new A4 the stance of a larger, more premium car. Its design is more of an evolution from the older car and it shows in the car’s profile as well as its rear end design. So, it might look familiar and not as dramatically new as the C-Class or as hunkered down as the 3 Series, but it sure has presence.
How is it on the inside?
The new A4 certainly impresses more on the inside. The dash design is all-new and it follows the same single slab outline as the new Q7 with the air vents dominating proceedings. It gets the virtual cockpit for instrumentation similar to the Audi TT and Q7. The climate control interface is brand new too, and it has this touch sensitivity to it which takes the feel-good factor to a new high.
Audi has given the new A4 a nicer central tunnel design. And on it is the new gear shifter, the new toggle like buttons and the large dial to access the MMI system, and an expensive looking unpolished slab of wood to cover it all. The wood finish is also extended to the dash and door inserts. The steering wheel is new too but is terribly busy with buttons that operate the audio, the phone, and the new virtual instrumentation.
Furthermore, the quality has improved both in touch and feel. The operability – the crispness and positivity in the way the buttons, the toggles, the dials and the rollers work – exudes engineering prowess and attention to detail. And not only does the new A4 have more space all round – for leg, shoulder and head – it feels airier too. Plus, the seats have improved. These are more accommodating and comfortable and nicer to be in for longer hours.
As for equipment – even though Audi says it hasn’t finalised the list for India yet – we feel it will have quite a bit of stuff we had on our press car in Munich. Audi will have three trims for the new A4 in India – Premium, Premium Plus and Technology. Let’s talk top of the line Technology. It will get a two or three-zone climate control system with rear AC vents. There will be Audi Drive Select that changes the steering effort, the gear shift character and the throttle response depending on what mode one chooses; Dynamic is of course the sharpest of them all.
It will also get the virtual cockpit, cruise control, the new MMI system, electric powered seats, leather upholstery, and a sunroof as standard. In terms of safety, there will be ABS, ESP and six airbags. There might actually be eight, but six is confirmed. So, as you can tell, Audi isn’t scrimping on features and that’s always a good thing.
How does it drive?
The new A4 is an easy to drive and easy to live with sort of a car. It has good visibility, comfortable and relaxed driving position, and typical of an Audi, a light and quick steering. Plus, the A4 comes with a reversing camera and parking sensors making the car simpler to park. As far as ride goes, ours was a European spec car, so it didn’t ride all too well. It was slightly lumpy and noisy but brilliantly composed over undulating roads. For India, we expect more pliancy to the ride and possibly more suspension travel too. Plus, the A4 for India will run higher profile tyres unlike the 45 profile of our test car. This should make the car’s ride plusher and easier to deal with on our roads.
Now the new A4 uses multi link suspension both front and back. It runs 17-inch tyres and as mentioned earlier, has a decently quick and responsive steering even though it is devoid of feel. And then the new A4 is 120kg lighter than the current car. No wonder, you don’t feel the increase in size of the car around a corner. There’s no hesitance or excessive roll at turn in, it tracks well around a bend and it doesn’t get agitated when it comes to managing its weight and grip under quick direction changes. It isn’t the most involving but it’s certainly a very confident car. Ditto in a straight line at speed.
And speed is something that comes easily to the new A4. The car we drove was the 2.0-litre diesel. It now makes 188bhp of max power and class-leading 400Nm of torque. And the engine for the new car is mated to a 7-speed dual clutch automatic and not a CVT as before. As you’d expect, the new car is significantly quicker. It reacts to throttle response with more vigour; it gathers momentum without having to really give it the stick (it really rides the torque curve well); and because it has a quieter cabin now, you get to high three digit speeds without even realising. And of course, the 7-speed DSG goes about its business of up and down shifting through the gears without delay and a good degree of sensitivity.
Should I buy one?
From what we have experienced, the new A4 has huge potential. It is more spacious, more advanced and better performing than the current car. And it has nice, likeable, quality interiors. What remains to be seen now is how Audi decides to spec the three trim levels of the car and how it prices them. Does the car deserve to carry a premium over the existing A4? We think so. But, by how much is something we will only know in a couple of months.