Audi's new A4 is here and despite not looking very different from the model it replaces, the executive sedan has actually been reworked rather extensively.
Built from the ground-up, the new Audi A4 is lighter, more efficient and loaded with more tech than before. More importantly for us here at Burnpavement.com, we’re happy that the ‘rubber band’ Multitronic CVT gearbox is no more, and in its place, is Audi’s quick-changing 7-speed S-tronic dual clutch gearbox. There will also be a more powerful 2-litre Quattro version soon, but before that one comes in, Audi is releasing this new 1.4 TFSI unit with 150 bhp and 250 Nm of torque for all of you who can’t wait.
Based on Audi’s new MLB-Evo platform (first found in the new Q7), the new A4 is as much as 120kg lighter than the outgoing model. Although it really does not look it, the car has also grown in size, 25 mm longer and 16 mm wider to be precise. The model we tested is the Design trim which comes with extra chrome trimmings and the sportier 17-inch alloy wheels.
The Germans have always been rather subtle (OK, maybe not Mercedes -Benz) when it comes to design. Take the new Porsche 911 facelift, or the new Volkswagen Passat. They’re different, without being different.
The new A4 is the same in that aspect. At first glance, most people won’t be able to tell that this is the new car, yet there are clear signs that it isn't the old one either. Here are some ways you can tell: The new adaptive LED headlamps and taillamps - these are obviously more apparent at night. The bonnet - a sharper clamshell type eliminates the gaps created by a bonnet line, and its edges almost seamlessly run down the entire length of the car. Subtle but effective.
The wing mirrors too, have changed. Located on the doors now rather than the base of the A-pillar. However, the first thing I noticed was not something you could visually pick out. The door handles now operate in an upward motion when opening, instead of the sideways action. This is an example of how extensive the changes are to the new car, despite them not being very obvious. I think that this kind of approach to progress is true class.
Inside the new cabin is clearly different from the previous model. The lovely Audi-style aluminium and black finishings adorn the cockpit and you’ll find interesting soft-touch buttons everywhere. From the digital centre console controls that ‘expand’ as you run your finger across them, to the cabin lights that dim as you hold your finger over them, the new interior exudes tech and modernity.
Plug in your iPhone and the car’s system will sync to Apple CarPlay, which enables you to access your phone’s functions like Apply Music, Spotify and even its navigation features. Not so good for then for Audi, which might see a decrease in owners selecting optional features like navigation for their cars? I even tried sending messages to my wife by activating Siri - it worked remarkably well!
The new A4 also has Audi’s ‘Drive Select’ system, which offers three settings: Comfort, Auto and Dynamic. There’s always only one option for us here at Burnpavement.com, while we strive to be objective about a car’s comfort, ride quality, etc. We really only want the hardest and fastest mode. So Dynamic it was and I must say that while everything from the throttle response to the the steering feel sharpened up, the ride was still very comfortable - and then I realised that the suspension setup is fixed for this model and not specced with the adaptive dampers. Which turned out to be fine actually, because most drivers who will buy the 1.4 TFSI are not like us.
The engine is rather lively and the 150 bhp is adequate for daily chores, having a strong 250 Nm of torque is useful too for overtaking. Spec-crazy drivers will be happy to know that the 0-100 km/h time is a rather commendable 8.5 seconds. Steer the new A4 into a series of bends and the body control on the fixed dampers is perfectly well judged. It is comfortable and is able to soak up our badly paved roads (have you noticed the number of road works happening these days?) and ‘smoothen’ the poor surfaces away.
Dynamically, the new base model feels lighter (because it is!) and more agile despite being down on power from the previous 1.8-litre. Long-term, it will cost less to run as it’s cheaper on the road tax and more efficient. At approximately $170,000, there are quite a few choices out there you can pick. But few will give you the overall package that the new tech-blessed A4 can. For those who want the full package though, you’ll have to wait a bit for the 2.0T Quattro version which will pack even more power and even more tech. We can’t wait.