04 May 2016 | 02.14 pm
Roadtest: Audi A4
New A4 is an easier and more fluid driving experience than before
04 May 2016 | 02.14 pm
There’s a lot going on with the new Audi A4, and the best improvement is how the car drives, writes Olive Keogh
The A4 was replaced towards the end of 2015 (all-new, not a facelift) and what was good is now even better. There’s more space, more features, lower emissions and better fuel efficiency. It also sits on a new platform and virtually all of the components are new, making this an A4 packed to the gunnels with the latest engineering know-how.
The Audi A4 is a popular choice with corporate buyers for good reason. It’s got status without being flash, it’s economical to run and it looks good in an understated sort of way. It also has one of the best infotainment systems on the market when it comes to ease of use.
Audi’s original MMI system (multi media interface) put the competition’s frustratingly awkward alternatives in the shade, and the new A4 continues to showcase the company’s mastery of making driving controls and infotainment systems clear and intuitive.
Audi further stepped things up in terms of the user experience when it launched a virtual cockpit in the most recent TT. This creates a three-dimensional perspective for the driver and is now available in the A4. The most impressive part of the virtual cockpit is the quality of the graphics.
This superior resolution, combined with the power needed to run connected car and autonomous driving features, creates a huge demand for processing ability. Buying it at a competitive price and making it small enough to fit are two of the biggest challenges facing automotive engineers today.
Ricki Hudi, Audi’s vice president for electronic development, says the main electronic control units it uses have 750 gigaflops of computing power. That’s roughly equivalent to what the world’s fastest supercomputers had in the year 2000. He also points out that not that long ago this amount of computing power would have taken up a football pitch. Now it’s contained in a module the size of a laptop.
Prices for the new A4, which has a five star EuroNCAP safety rating, start at €35,800 and there are three trim lines, Attraction, SE and S Line. The lines are visually differentiated by individually styled bumpers. As the A4 is aimed at busy executives on the move, it comes with features such as wireless phone charging, an on-board WiFi hotspot and Audi’s latest touch-to-talk voice control system.
The A4 has a quality interior with comfortable, supportive seats. The cabin space is generous, there is a decent sized boot and the finish throughout is aesthetically pleasing. There are six engine options with uprated power outputs and their fuel consumption is down by 21%. Audi uses the ‘Ultra’ badge to denote very thrifty performers and the 2.0 TDI Ultra, for example, has fuel consumption of just 3.7 litres/100km with CO2 emissions of 95g/km.
There’s clearly a lot going on with the new A4 at a number of levels but the biggest attraction for me is how it drives. Audis are ruthlessly efficient at getting one from A to B but they can feel a tad heavy and austere. With its new underpinnings and 120kg weight loss, the latest A4 has kicked this habit and offers an altogether easier and more fluid driving experience.
Model: Audi A4 saloon S Line
Engine: 2.0 Tdi 6-speed manual
Safety: City safety system, attention assist, multiple airbags, ASR, EDL, ESC, childproof locks, ISOFIX child seat mounts
Fuel consumption: 3.8L/100km
Verdict: Polished executive transport