The new Audi A4 is presently the youngest car in its segment in the country but in order to hold on to its popularity, it'll have to go against the likes of the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Jaguar XE. We recently drove the A4 30 TFSI (B9) which is the petrol variant in the A4 lineup and at the end of the test we came up to an interesting conclusion.
Design & Cabin
The new Audi A4 at first glance doesn't look too different from its predecessor and it's hard to make out if this one's a facelift or a new model. Audi says this is a completely new car with no component sharing between it and the older model. While I'm certain Audi is right about that, the A4 doesn't look what one would expect an all-new version to be like. Zoom in on the details or walk closer and it becomes clear that the A4 now looks much more stately, premium and pricey.
The sharp LED headlamps with a dynamic DRL design flank the trademark Audi grille draped in chrome. The long hood now features a clamshell design, which along with the shoulder line lend the side profile a hint of dynamism. The new A4 is longer by 25 mm than the older car, which should help space inside the cabin but more on that in a bit. Moving on to the rear, once again everything is new but the only thing that really stands out is the new LED tail lamp cluster with dynamic turn signals.
While the new A4 comes across as a more refined and sophisticated design over the older model, it doesn't do much to excite the senses. Unlike the C-Class, which clearly reflects comfort and elegance through its design and the 3 Series that exudes dynamism and sportiness through its design, the A4 doesn't really reflect any one or two characteristics. What it does is it packs in a bit of everything and then tries to come up with a mixed recipe. While that isn't necessarily a negative as many buyers prefer such understated designs, I personally feel Audi designers played it a bit too safe.
The same story, however, doesn't continue inside the cabin and this is where one can instantly make out that it's an all-new car. On closer inspection, one can find the similarities between other Audi cars but that's perfectly fine since no mass-level carmaker really does all-new designs for each of their models.
Sitting at the top of the dashboard is an 8.3-inch colour screen, which can be operated through some buttons and a rotary dial in the lower centre console. The instrument cluster consists of a seven-inch colour screen flanked by circular dials. This screen can display a wide range of driving data including navigation, which means the driver doesn't need to look away from the road to view the map. Smart!
Material quality is a big improvement over the older model and better than the 3 Series and the XE but still not in the same league as the C-Class. The seats upfront are roomy and comfortable and offer good support all around, especially side support. Owing to the increase in length, the rear leg room has now grown by 12 mm over the older model. Along with the extra legroom, the rear seats offer good cushioning and under thigh support, making the car a good pick for chauffeur-driven buyers too. The tall transmission tunnel though means the A4 is best suited for four adults and the fifth one if squeezed in, is surely not gonna be happy.
A smart feature worth mentioning is the wireless charging pad in the centre armrest. Just place your smartphone on the pad and enjoy the benefits of not having to carry wires all around. In case you do carry one, you can connect to Android Auto/ Apple CarPlay and enjoy seamless connectivity with your phone without having to interact with it directly. The infotainment system itself is easy to use and has a quick response rate. The rotary dial controller too works fine and it's impressive how easier it has become to use over the past few years.
The interiors of the new A4 are truly impressive! The cabin has not just gotten better in terms of quality and comfort but has outgrown the competition in terms of smart features that users actually benefit from and not just boast of, case in point being the wireless charging pad.
The 30 TFSI is powered by a 1.4 litre turbocharged petrol engine with a peak power output of 150 hp and 250 Nm of torque between 1,500 and 3,500 rpm. Now, this might not sound enough to move around a sedan weighing close to 1.5 tonnes but that isn't the case. The car is lighter by 95 kg than its predecessor, owing to the MQB Evo platform it's based on. Not only does that help matters but the 7-speed DSG automatic transmission too has been calibrated smartly to mask the lag and maximise the motor's real-world performance. Hit the throttle and the engine responds with acceptable pace and kickdowns too are handled mostly with ease. At times though, when pushing really hard the gearbox can show some lag so it's best advised to use the paddle-shifters in such scenarios.
Ride and handling in the new A4 is massively better than the older version and that makes a strong case for chauffeur-driven buyers. The steering too is better than the older car's and weighs up adequately but still doesn't transmit enough feedback through corners. The corners themselves are handled in an acceptable manner and one has to keep in mind that this is a front-wheel driven car and doesn't come with the famed Quattro technology. Pushing the car hard around corners results in understeer, although body-roll isn't much.
Overall, the new A4 30 TFSI is a car that will do the job of moving around within cities and between them on highways with ease but will not end up putting a smile on the driver's face. During our test, the car did the 0-100 km/h sprint in 8.72 seconds (using a hand-held GPS device) and returned an average fuel-efficiency of 12.17 km/l, comprising mostly of city traffic. The acceleration numbers might not be exciting but the fuel-efficiency ones surely are impressive.
The new Audi A4 is a great improvement over the last model in terms of features, comfort and efficiency. It doesn't feel quite up there when it comes to exterior design and driving fun though. The way I see it, the new A4 is an 'in-betweener' in its segment since it does a bit of everything without really being the outright leader in any one area. This isn't a bad thing though, especially in India, where people demand everything from their cars. Being an 'in-betweener' is actually the strength of the A4 as it will appeal to a wider range of consumers.
Also Read: Audi A6 Matrix Review
So if you are in the luxury market and are more inclined towards being cocooned in a cabin with modern tech and a smart infotainment system, the new A4 fits the bill. For chauffeur-driven buyers too the A4 is a good option as it's comfortable and fuel-efficient. Where the car misses out is on driving fun so if that's your prerogative, the new A4 30 TFSI isn't the car for you.