Let’s start with the diesel engine first. The diesel variant of the new A4 is powered by the same EA288 1968cc four-cylinder turbo-diesel motor as the old car, but its power and torque rating have taken a huge jump and the new A4 diesel now makes a healthy 188bhp and 400Nm of torque. The block is made from heavy cast iron which should help in refinement thanks to the dense metal.
The extra oomph makes the engine feel more flexible and a wider power band means there is more than enough grunt in any given condition. Refinement is very good, performance is ample and this, coupled with the car’s ride, will make it a fine all-purpose machine. The 7-speed dual clutch transmission works really well in tandem and makes full use of the higher power on tap. It responds quickly to the change in position of your right foot at all times and ensures that you are in the meat of the power band. But at lower speeds it does tend to get confused, which results in jerky progress at times. In Comfort mode, it does feel much smoother but here too smoother throttle inputs are recommended. This is where rivals with torque converter transmissions have an edge.
Thanks to the ample power on tap, the A4 diesel posted brisk times against the clock. Despite the A4 bogging down during standstill acceleration tests (the dual clutch gearbox goes into safe mode) it posted a quick time of 7.91 seconds to 100kmph. Thanks to the quick witted transmission, the drivability times of 4.57 seconds for 20-80kmph and 5.79 seconds for 40-100kmph are really impressive.
The petrol variant on the other hand displaces a miniscule 1.4 litres which seems like a very surprising decision, considering rivals offer much larger petrol units. But with the new chassis, Audi has reduced weight considerably, which in turn has allowed it to give the new A4 a downsized engine. Displacing 1395cc, this turbocharged motor is from VW’s EA211 engine family and it develops 148bhp and 250Nm of torque. The high-tech motor is coupled to an equally modern DQ200 7-speed dual clutch automatic.
As soon as you step on the accelerator pedal the motor responds quite well and the A4 feels peppy at low speeds. Peak torque comes in at a low 1500rpm and past that, the mid-range is pretty strong and the engine will pull happily to its 6200rpm redline as well. Like with the diesel the petrol variant gets three driving modes – ‘Comfort’, ‘Dynamic’ and ‘Individual’. In ‘Comfort’, it is programmed to upshift at the earliest, maximising fuel efficiency, whereas in ‘Dynamic’, it will stay in the lowest gear possible. The problem with driving in ‘Comfort’ is that when you need that burst of power, you are usually in a gear too high and have to wait for the gearbox to kick down. ‘Dynamic’ is more responsive but the throttle response becomes too jerky to our liking.
Sure the 0-100kmph time of 9.06 second is decent but, it can’t match its main rivals as far as outright performance is concerned. You also have to work the motor hard to get the best out of it. While the engine is very quiet and smooth at low and cruising speeds, it does get a bit thrummy after 5000rpm, and it isn’t as smooth as say, the bigger 1.8 TSI motor in the old car was.