Why would I buy it?
- Responsive petrol engine
- Superb gearbox
- Fantastic ride quality
Why would I avoid it?
- Subtle styling
- Not the most spacious
The Audi A4 is the perfect case of 'Do not judge a book by its cover'. The new A4 even with the facelift might still look a tad too subtle compared to the competition, but it's only once you get behind the wheel that you know it has real potential. No, it's not a driver's car like the BMW 330i or as charming as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, but the new A4 is a very fine balance of sporty and elegance, and we just hope Audi prices it right to make it a smashing deal.
Engine and Performance
Now let’s get to the engine and performance. Powering the A4 is a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine and no, you don’t get a diesel option. The engine puts out 190bhp and 320Nm of torque. Now compared to this, the Mercedes Benz C200 makes 200bhp and 300Nm while the BMW 330i is in a whole different league altogether. The A4 is also front-wheel drive, no quattro here. On the gearbox front, the A4 gets a seven-speed S-tronic gearbox.
Frankly, with just 190bhp on tap, we expected the performance to be a little timid, but surprise, surprise! The A4 impressed us with the urgency of its motor. The response, even to part throttle, is immediate and there is no lag whatsoever. Switching the drive mode to dynamic makes the response even crisper and one never feels short on performance. The twin-clutch gearbox harnesses all those 190 horses so well that it makes up for the lack of a few horses putting some numbers into the picture. Audi claims that the A4 will hit 100kmph in 7.3 seconds and go on to hit a top speed of 241kmph which is pretty impressive, and it stops just as well too. Braking is very strong and progressive as well, which inspires plenty of confidence.
Power delivery as expected is very linear and that fat wad of torque means overtaking happens in the blink of an eye. Summing up the performance in one word, effortless.
Ride and Handling
Talking about the ride and handling, the new A4 is set up for a comfortable ride and the specs also say that the A4 for India comes with comfort-tuned heavy-duty suspension. But does it work? It works like an absolute charm. The ride quality is just phenomenal and it's better than some of our compact SUVs. The way the A4 pummels irregularities into submission is just fantastic. What also helps are the 50 profile tyres that absorb the bad stuff even more.
With the soft suspension setup, one might think that the A4 will be a little roly-poly in the corners. Well, there is some body roll, but even then, the A4 feels quite composed when dialled into a corner. The steering feels direct enough and weighs up nicely too. Of course, it’s no sports car and will not match up to, say, a 330i, but the A4 is right up there when you talk about a balanced ride and handling setup.
Interior Space and Quality
Audi knows how to make great interiors and the insides of the new A4 are no different. The dashboard is a no-fuss layout with clean horizontal lines. It’s also an ergonomic delight with everything falling at hand with ease. The feel-good factor is great thanks to the excellent build quality while the piano black finish along with the leather and leatherette upholstery add to the luxury appeal. Now talking about the front seats, both are powered with the driver seat also getting a memory function. The seat itself is excellent and cocoons you well. You also get a very clear view from the cockpit and what helps are the thin A-pillars that don’t obstruct the view at all.
Moving to the backbench, ingress-egress isn’t the best, especially if your back creaks and you’re weak in the knees. Once in, legroom isn’t an issue at all and if you are considering the A4 as a chauffeur-driven car, there should be no problem at all. The only problem will be when you decide to travel with three passengers at the back as that will be a tight fit. Also, the centre passenger gets a stiff backrest and a not-so-comfortable seat squab, and also has to deal with the high transmission tunnel and these rear ac vents. So, the A4 best serves as a comfortable four-seater and an only-in-emergency five-seater.
Coming to the boot space, at 460-litres it is enough to swallow a weekend’s luggage and more.
Features and Safety
The A4 also comes loaded with features. The most important one is the new touch screen MMI system. You get a range of connectivity options and the large 10.1-inch hi-resolution screen looks and feels smashing. The highlight of the system is that the MMI search is based on free text input and the natural language voice control makes it easy for the system to understand phrases used in everyday speech. You get a sunroof, three-zone climate control, park assist, Audi virtual cockpit, ambient lighting, phone box with wireless charging, comfort key for easy access, gesture-based boot-lid opening, and more.
With the new A3 yet to be launched, the A4 will be the entry ticket into Audi's sedan universe once launched on 5 January. The A4 will be launched in two variants, premium plus and technology, and we expect prices to start at around Rs 40 lacs.
The new A4 might not have the most arresting looks in its segment or be the most spacious, but where it makes ground is with its well-built interiors, peppy performance, and best-in-class ride and handling package. So, if you're out in the market for an entry-level luxury sedan and unassuming is your middle name, the new A4 makes for the ideal choice.
Pictures by Kapil Angane and Kaustubh Gandhi