BMW for sportiness, Mercedes for comfort, Jaguar for style and Lexus for quality. Take those attributes from each marque, trim them down a tiny bit, give it the best interior of the segment, and you get an Audi.
It’s the same story for the new Audi A4. The all-rounded appeal is what defines this brand, but for this fifth generation model there’s also new focus on innovation and technology.
Lighter, more efficient and more high-tech than before, Ingolstadt’s latest mid-sizer is all about what’s underneath the sheet metal, which is said to be 90 percent new.
Like before, pricing starts from a modest $55,500 for the entry-level A4 1.4-litre TFSI, which is what we have on test here. The more powerful 2.0-litre petrol comes in two flavour, the 2.0 TFSI S tronic at $60,900 and 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic priced from $69,900. The 2.0 TDI quattro S tronic is the sole diesel offering in the range and changes hands at $66,900. All stickers exclude on-road costs.
Design and Comfort
Can you tell the “all-new” A4 apart from the old one? Of course you can’t. Evolutionary styling has been the order of the day for every generation of A4 since its inception. And we have been baffled to tell the difference. Maybe we just hadn’t been looking close enough.
So, upon closer inspection on this new one we notice the restyled headlamps and taillights, both of which are edgier and slenderer than before. The trapezoidal grille is wider and there are new bumpers front and rear.
The overall exterior design is still a conservative one though the sharper lines and creases make it sleeker and classier than before.
One gripe, however, is the high ride height in models with standard suspension like our test car (optional sport suspension lowers the car a little) and the resulting wheel gap is quite an eye sore.
Audi’s interior of late has gone from excellent to class-leadingly brilliant, and the one in the A4 is no exception. It’s modern, functional and immaculately put together. There’s no excessiveness in the cabin; everything is sized just right, giving a sense of spaciousness throughout.
Sitting position is good and the vast glasshouse means all round visibility is excellent. The new car’s longer wheelbase has liberated more legroom for rear passengers, while thinner and lower seats yield improved headroom for all occupants.
No doubt, the new A4 is one of the most spacious cars in its class and all seats are comfortable enough for long trips. The cabin is church-like quiet, too, with very little wind and road noise.
At 480 litres the A4’s boot is decent size though not class-leading. Folding the rear seats down expand the space to 965 litres.
Performance and Handling
The new 1.4-litre turbocharged four cylinder petrol engine found in our test car develops 110kW with a peak torque of 250Nm. While the figures aren’t much, the base A4 is still eager enough for most driving, with a chunky midrange that allows for swift overtaking. Paired with a fast-shifting seven-speed DSG dual clutch gearbox, it sprints from zero to 100mk/h in a respectable 8.5 seconds (claimed).
The drivetrain is remarkably refined and smooth; its operation is impressively quiet and gear changes are virtually imperceptible.
On take off, there’s still a slight hesitation in the transmission but once on the go, it shifts with the kind of crispness a torque converter can’t match. It tends to scramble to the higher gears as soon as possible to save fuel, too.
At lower speed, we find the DSG a little unwilling to downshift even when you bury your foot on the pedal, though it becomes much more cooperative at higher speeds.
The A4’s standard comfort-biased suspension delivers one of the plushest rides in the segment, soaking up road imperfections extremely well. But that doesn’t mean it’s floaty around the bends, far from it.
There’s abundance of front end grip and the car feels composed and flat as long as you keep things tidy. It may not be as involving or exciting to drive as its rivals but it still does a darn good job responding to driver inputs.
Closer to its limits, the front-wheel drive entry level A4 will start to feel understeery, and while the steering is precise, sharp and has nice weight to it, there’s little in the way of engagement. As for the brakes, we’d also prefer a little more progression as most bites are toward the bottom of the pedal, though the brake pressure activation of auto engine stop/start is spot on.
Audi consistently excels in this area and the new A4 continues this trend. Its interior is no doubt the benchmark of the segment and has a real upmarket feel to it. Premium looking brushed aluminium trim adorn the cabin, complemented with lavish leather upholstery and high quality suede door trims.
There’s no shortage of startling elements too, such as the climate control display, which at first looks ordinary until the icons animate when you touch the buttons. Yes, it’s actually a full LCD.
While our base model misses out on the excellent Audi Virtual Cockpit LCD instrument cluster, its conventional instrumentation panel is still classy and full of clarity.
Typical of Audi, fit and finish is top notch. Most surfaces are soft to the touch and panels have almost perfect alignment.
Audi claims the A4 1.4 TFSI consumes as low as 5.5L/100km on the combined cycle thanks to a lighter body (up to 120kg weight saving compared to the previous model) and more efficient engines.
At the end of our week long test the trip computer returned a reading of 8.2L/100km, which admittedly involved some really heavy-footed driving. Still, it’s a pretty remarkable figure for a mid-size family sedan.
Cruising at legal freeway speeds the A4’s fuel use hovered around 4.0L/100km, which almost matches some small hatchbacks.
Features and Equipment
Standard equipment on the base A4 1.4 TFSI is quite substantial. It includes 18-inch alloy wheels, LED adaptive headlights and dynamic rear indicators. On the inside, there’s MMI Navigation plus with 8.3-inch screen, MMI touch (handwriting recognition), DVD player, 10GB music storage, live traffic and 5 included map updates. Also standard are Audi Smartphone interface (Apple Carplay and Android Auto), 7.0-inch colour Driver Information Screen, electric driver’s seat, 3-zone climate control with rear display, steering paddle shifters and leather upholstery.
There are, however, a few essentials which we think should be included as standard and not optional fitment: keyless entry ($900), heated front seats ($600) and DAB+ digital radio ($600).
Beyond this the options list is even more extensive and expensive. Adaptive Sport Suspension is $1,700, Bang & Olufsen 3D Sound System with 19 speakers costs $2,000, metallic paint will set you back $1,420. Want a sunroof? That’d be $1,950, thank you.
Design and Comfort: 8.5/10
Performance and Handling: 7.5/10
Equipment and Features: 8.0/10
The new Audi A4 is a big improvement in every aspect compared to its predecessor. There’s real appeal to its efficient drivetrain, superb interior and exemplary ride comfort and quietness.
The base 1.4 TFSI may not be as much of a driver’s car as its rear-wheel drive rivals, but it impresses with up-to-the-minute technology and cabin space.
And for those who want a sportier drive, there are always the quattro models.
- Benchmark interior
- Efficient drivetrain
- Exemplary ride comfort and quietness
- Rivals are more fun to drive
- Expensive options
2016 Audi A4 1.4 TFSI Price and Specification
|Price (excluding on-roads):||From $55,500
As Tested: $58,420*
Metallic paint, digital radio and keyless entry
|Warranty:||3 years/unlimited km|
|Country of Origin:||Germany|
|Service Intervals:||12 months/15,000km|
|Engine:||1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol: 110kW @ 6,000rpm, 250Nm @ 1,500-3,500rpm|
|Transmission:||7-speed S tronic dual clutch automatic|
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):||Claimed: 5.5 / Tested: 8.2|
|Ron Rating:||95 Premium ULP|
|Fuel Capacity (L):||54|
|Body:||4 door sedan, 5 seats|
|Safety:||5-star ANCAP, 8 airbags, reverse camera, forward collision mitigation, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, DSC, TCS, ABS, EBD, EBA|
|Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm:||4,726 / 1,842 / 1,427 / 2,820|
|Kerb Weight (kg):||1,535|
|Entertainment:||8.3-inch MMI infotainment system, Bluetooth, USB, DVD player, smartphone interface, navigation, 8-speakers|