What is it?
The A4 has been Audi’s best selling sedan in India and this is the all-new version which went on sale on 8th September (read report). Unvieled in June 2015, this is the B9 version and the fifth model to carry the A4 badge. The numerical 9 stands for the ninth generation of the Audi 80/A4 series. Numbers and history aside, for the Indian market, the A4 is a very important model. It is not the most affordable Audi but one that outsells every other model from the company’s line-up. We drove the car around Bhubaneshwar last month and here’s our quick first drive review.
How does it look?
The A4 has always been a classy looking premium sedan. The new version, sitting on the company’s MLB Evo platform, carries on the same styling but with subtle changes that end up making it look fresh and modern. The talk of the town are the lamps on either ends. The headlamps get new dual stage LED DRLs (daytime running lights) that look great specially in the rear view mirrors of other cars. Likewise, the sweeping LED indicators at the back work similar to the those of the Q7 and can definitely make the crowd go wow.
The rest of the car remains more or less like the outgoing version and that isn’t a bad thing at all. Yes the lines and creases have become sharper, the grille is larger and alloy wheels get a new look too. Infact, the chrome slats up front along with chrome lines in the fog lamp housing look premium in darker shades.
The new A4 is also sleeker than ever before and gets a drag coefficient of just 0.25. This has been made possible by various aspects: a cleaner under-body, shifting of outside mirrors from being mounted on the A pillars to the door now and redesigned bumpers. At 47266 mm in length and 1842 mm in width, the new 2016 Audi A4 is longer and wider than the Mercedes C Class and the BMW 3 Series.
At 1450 kg, it is also very light for a premium sedan and that aids performance and economy but more on that later. The car rides on 225/50 R17 Hankook tyres.
The new A4 30 TFSI is available five color options. These include Ibis White, Mythos Black, Florest Silver, Moonshine Blue and Tango Red, the one we drove. Sunroof is standard on both the trim levels.
Audi A4 Exterior Gallery
How does it feel on the inside?
Simply superb and I am not exaggerating. The interiors of the A4 are probably one of the strongest points that ends up tilting the favors for a costumer when he is making up his mind. And its not just about the quality of materials or the long list of standard features. One of my old friends booked his A4 (via Audi Gurgaon) and he was clearly more than eager for the delivery because the cabin had him hooked. The premium feel and the new age tech combine together to make the A4 a clear winner in this regard.
Step inside and you simply can’t take your eyes off the virtual cockpit. Its a treat for those who love flaunting their gadgets. Young owners, or kids of rich owners will surely love spending time with this feature. As the name suggests, there are no needles here – just a big 31.24 cm LCD screen that can be customized for appearance. Let the pictures do the talking then!
Next, the 8.3 inch MMI screen gets your attention. It is not retractable and sits proudly in the center above the air-con vents. It supports the smartphone interface (Apple Carplay and Android Auto) and the new A4 finally gets a touch pad on the big rotary knob.
You also get the Audi phone box feature which supports wireless charging.
The A4 now gets a three zone climate control and we love the quality laden controls. The gear lever is also new. What set this car apart is the use of actual high quality leather all around rather than a mix with leatherette and other materials. This not only lends a luxury touch but also pampers the occupants in a better way in the long run.
While you do get powered front seats, they are not ventilated (or cooled) and this is surely missed when you are paying close to 50 big ones for the Technology version.
Most owners of the A4 will be rear seat passengers and this is again an area where Audi claims to have made an improvement. Space is up from the previous version. Audi engineers have cleverly moved the seat slightly back and lowered it too and this has in turn liberated more leg space as well as extra headroom. That said, the tall transmission tunnel along with protruding rear air-con vents means this place is best suited for two adults.
In terms of features, rear passengers get temperature controls, a cigarette lighter, manually operated window blinds, LED reading lights, nets behind the front seat and arm rest with storage space.
Audi A4 Interior Gallery
How does it drive?
This was the big question that kept popping in my mind till I got behind the driver’s wheel. Numbers first: this new A4 makes use of a 1.4-litre petrol motor as compared to 1.8 for the outgoing version. Truth is, this new A4 B9 comes with only two petrol options now with the other unit being a bigger 2.0-litre. So, keeping costs in mind, it made sense to get in the smaller version to India.
On paper it puts out 150 horses and 250 Nm of torque. Thanks to the clever 7 speed DSG transmission and the overall weight of the car (which has gone down by 95 kg), this little engine still manages to push the A4 from standstill to hundred in just 8.5 seconds. Down sizing means less emissions and higher economy : the ARAI rated figure stands at 17.84 kmpl and we got as much as 12.3 kmpl on our 200 km test route which included city runs, photo-shoots and highway stints. The new A4 also boasts of a freewheeling coasting mode: lifting your foot off the throttle at good speeds results in de-clutching, allowing the vehicle to coast and roll over a longer distance and hence in turn saving fuel.
Push the start-stop button gently and the engine wakes up silently. It is a smooth operator, something that will be appreciated by most owners. Torque comes in as early as 1,500 rpm which means part throttle response is terrific for a small engine. We had to negotiate Bhubaneshwar’s traffic till we got out to the highway and I felt at ease with the small motor. No complaints whatsoever. However I have to admit that once we hit the open roads, I did feel the need for some extra horses or a larger engine. But that is unfair on my part as a regular A4 customer will relax himself at the back with his eyes glued into his tab rather than think about the missing performance. Drive the A4 gently or even mildly fast and she will respond beautifully well. Want performance? Look elsewhere or wait for the diesel one to arrive in a few months time.
The 7 speed DSG is a sweet and clever unit. It knows exactly what you want and delivers just that. The A4 also comes with paddle shifters which I didn’t really use much on the course of the drive. The A4 comes with four driving modes of Comfort, Sport, Auto and User Programmable. I stuck to the Comfort mode for most part of my drive and this gets us to the next part!
Is she comfortable?
The A4 sits in a segment that has owners looking at everyday comfort. This car ends up ticking this box like a champ and behaves far better than the outgoing version, one that was way too soft. In fact, the supple ride quality somewhat compliments the small motor too. Most owners will love driving the A4 themselves : ease of driving and suspension set-up means more minor imperfections and irregularities are taken care of easily without the driver feeling nervous at triple digit speeds. I stuck to the Comfort mode during my drive and drove normally as I would without being aggressive on the road. The end result? Our 200km drive turned out to be comfortable, relaxed and very efficient. This indeed is the beauty about the new A4. Do not expect it to send shivers down your spine with thrilling moments. If you want that, please look elsewhere.
On the way back to our hotel, traffic had picked up and this showcased another ace up the A4’s sleeve. Insulation is top notch and the A4 ends up cocooning you from the outside world. Even in rush hour traffic, you can easily have a conversation with your fellow passengers without having the need to raise your voice. This along with a relatively light steering and oodles of low end torque ends up making city commutes a stress free affair.
Pricing and features:
The new 2016 Audi A4 has gone on sale in two versions. The Premium Plus comes with a sticker price of Rs 38,10,000 and the top end Technology version sells for Rs 41,20,000 , both prices being ex-showroom Delhi. While the Premium Plus is definitely loaded up, the Technology trim offers memory package for the driver’s seat, MMI navigation with MMI touch, DVD player, Virtual cockpit, Phone box, Smartphone interface and walnut brown inlays. Hence, the price difference is surely justified. Just to add, the 5-arm Tornado design alloy wheels on the expensive Technology version look great.
Do I recommend the new A4?
Most customers who are looking out for a Rs 40-45 lakh rupee sedan don’t have performance in their priority list. Brand value, styling elements, cabin and features are often top ranked and in this regard the new A4 does just fine. Yes we journalists never mind that extra oomph from the engine but we don’t form a typical customer base. I think Audi India did their homework very well and though the decision to get a 1.4 first did disappoint some, it made sense for most.
The Mercedes C Class is the real rival here. BMW dealers are already offering as much as Rs 8.5 lakh off (unofficial deals) on the 3 Series. The A4 looks fresh (but not as classy as the C) and definitely ups the game in terms of cabin quality, features, comfort and ride quality. It has a lot going for it and the reason why it will remain the best selling Audi in India. For those looking at grinning moments, the torquey diesel version is coming your way soon!