Audi A4

It may not look too dif­fer­ent from the old A4 but it is an all-new model

Evo India - - CONTENTS - Test Lo­ca­tion: Mu­nich, Ger­many Pho­tog­ra­phy: Ouseph Chacko

IT MAY NOT LOOK rad­i­cally new, but this new Audi A4 is. It is based on VW’s MLB plat­form and that means plenty of alu­minium and high strength steel in its con­struc­tion. Audi says there’s a 120kg re­duc­tion in weight over the pre­vi­ous model de­spite the in­crease in size.

The good news is that this car will be in In­dia as early as Au­gust this year. Audi has stopped mak­ing the cur­rent A4, and grow­ing In­dian sales num­bers mean that stocks will run out much faster than Audi ex­pected, forc­ing them to usher in the new model ear­lier. More good news comes in the form of the vari­ants that Audi is con­sid­er­ing of­fer­ing in In­dia. The main­stay en­gine will con­tinue to be the 2-litre diesel (now clean of course) and Audi still ex­pects this en­gine, along with the new 7-speed DSG gear­box to be the best­seller but, they are con­sid­er­ing bring­ing in a cheaper, six-speed man­ual to In­dia and mar­ket­ing it on the lines of the Q3 S.

Also on the cards is the pos­si­ble in­tro­duc­tion of a 3-litre V6 TDI with quat­tro – they did have this en­gine op­tion in the cur­rent A4 – but the new one makes more power and go­ing by what the old car felt like, this one should be even more of a pocket rocket.

How are the in­sides?

It is stun­ning to be quite frank. Where the new C-Class feels el­e­gant and classy and the 3 Se­ries feels well, like a BMW, the in­te­rior of the new A4 is a fan­tas­tic mix of tech and sporti­ness. Like all new gen­er­a­tion Audis, the star of the dash­board is the all-dig­i­tal in­stru­ment clus­ter.

It is a high res­o­lu­tion colour screen and the graph­ics are stun­ning. You can choose be­tween show­ing 3D maps (with the rev counter and speedome­ter small) and vice versa. You can also dial up all kinds of in­for­ma­tion in­clud­ing what your dog had for break­fast.

Im­por­tantly, our test car came

with alu­minium ac­cents on the dash­board (I think it is much bet­ter than the wood fin­ish that lux­ury car buy­ers in In­dia seem to pre­fer) and the whole dash­board feels classy and un­clut­tered. The high-res­o­lu­tion colour screen had the op­tion of fold­ing away though. Other than this grem­lin, small de­tails like the di­am­e­ter of the steer­ing wheel and its thick­ness add to it and on the whole, it feels the fresh­est and most ap­peal­ing of all its ri­vals. It has to be – re­mem­ber, the C-Class has been around for some time now and the 3-Se­ries even longer, so Audi does have the nat­u­ral ad­van­tage of be­ing the new­est and fresh­est take around.

Our car had man­u­ally adjustable seats (if Audi brings the man­ual to In­dia, you can ex­pect this) but the seats them­selves are hugely com­fort­able. At the rear, there’s more legroom thanks to the in­crease in the size of the car but taller peo­ple might find head­room a bit re­stric­tive. On the whole though, the cabin feels airier and plusher than be­fore. How does it drive?

I grabbed the keys to the 2-litre diesel with the man­ual gear­box. Like all A4s in In­dia (with the ex­cep­tion of the 3-litre TDI if they in­tro­duce it), this one is a front-wheel drive car and on the dry roads around Mu­nich where we drove it, you re­ally don’t miss all-wheel drive grip.

The en­gine is lovely. For starters, it is the qui­etest diesel in its seg­ment and with the man­ual gear­box is a peppy lit­tle thing. With 188bhp and 400Nm of torque, it builds power pro­gres­sively and has a strong mid-range that makes it very sat­is­fy­ing to drive. The gearshift is light and crisp and the clutch is easy to mod­u­late as well. What we know about this en­gine gear­box com­bi­na­tion (from our long-term Jetta) is that it is rather easy to stall when you are at slow speeds. This is not a prob­lem with the new A4 be­cause if you do hap­pen to stall the en­gine, all you have to do is dip the clutch in quickly and the auto start­stop func­tion will start the en­gine and you can be on your way with min­i­mal em­bar­rass­ment.

The crisp re­sponses com­ple­ment

This new A4 is no­tice­ably sharper than the cur­rent car, es­pe­cially the well-weighted, quick steer­ing

the way the car han­dles. This new A4 is no­tice­ably sharper than the cur­rent car. What you no­tice im­me­di­ately is the quick steer­ing. There’s lit­tle slack around the straight ahead po­si­tion and the car re­sponds to small steer­ing in­puts quickly and ef­fec­tively. There isn’t much body roll and there’s lots of grip from the front end and this sort of blurs the line be­tween the old A4 and the new 3 Se­ries and that is al­ways a good thing.

Our car was run­ning 45-profile tyres and while they do add a lot to

the tighter skin­ning of the new A4, you can ex­pect In­dian cars to come with higher profile tyres. On these low profile tyres though, there is a bit of road noise and I did feel more than I would like of the oc­ca­sional Mu­nich rut. I will re­serve fi­nal judge­ment on the ride when I get to drive it over our spec­tac­u­larly built roads though.

You can choose how the car be­haves via the drive se­lect fea­ture that stiff­ens or soft­ens the alu­minium-in­ten­sive multi-link sus­pen­sion front and rear but, the car is so good in Dy­namic mode that it was my mode of choice for most of the drive.

What it is ex­cel­lent at is high­speed cruis­ing. The sta­bil­ity you get along with sixth gear’s long legged­ness is stu­pe­fy­ing. The brakes are very good to help shed au­to­bahn speeds quickly and with­out fuss.

What else?

Say­ing that it is a much bet­ter car than be­fore would be stat­ing the ob­vi­ous. What Audi has done here is taken a win­ning for­mula and tweaked it in all the right places. The in­te­ri­ors are cut­ting edge, the en­gine and gear­box pos­i­tively crackle and it now has more space and is nicer to drive. If Audi does of­fer the cheaper man­ual 2-litre diesel as well as the 272bhp V6 diesel in In­dia, we don’t see any rea­son why it shouldn’t build on the suc­cess of its pre­de­ces­sor. Ex­pect prices to start at around `40 lakh.

Right: The new A4 is a lot more fun to drive than the old one. Be­low

left: That high-res dis­play is very cool.

Be­low right: Six-speed man­ual could be a pos­si­ble op­tion in In­dia. It is a fan­tas­tic gear­box

Top: It may not look very dif­fer­ent from the old A4 but it is. Be­low: Audi’s MMI is the most in­tu­itive driver in­ter­face of them all

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