Audi A4

ENG

Nam Wheels - - Front Page -

2016 ap­pears to be a big year for mo­tor man­u­fac­tur­ers.

Toy­ota re­cently launched the suc­ces­sor to its leg­endary Hilux bakkie, Hyundai has brought back the Tuc­son name with its new SUV while Honda un­leashed its beastly Civic Type R on our poor, un­sus­pect­ing roads.

Al­though they couldn’t be any more dif­fer­ent, Audi has now coun­tered with the launch of their brand-new A4.

There’s no doubt that this new B9 model is hugely im­por­tant, es­pe­cially when Audi ex­ecs at its re­cent launch un­der­line this with sober­ing sta­tis­tics.

The brand recorded a global 3.6% year-on-year growth but their com­par­a­tively old A4 lost 18.6% to its com­peti­tors on the south­ern African mar­ket (at 14,953 units).

South Africans (and Namib­ians) love their com­pact lux­ury sedans so this B-seg­ment en­joys a 70% sedan oc­cu­pa­tion where the A4, 3-Se­ries and C-class have been bat­tling it out for decades.

The seg­ment makes up al­most half of the (over­all) lux­ury mar­ket which is cur­rently ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a steady an­nual de­cline.

Nonethe­less, Audi is con­fi­dent in its new prod­uct and has pre­mium plans which fo­cus less on bulk / fleet sales and em­pha­size qual­ity ser­vice on in­di­vid­ual lev­els.

All new A4’s are built in Ger­many and will be fol­lowed in the next year by a new Q5 (SUV), A5 Coupé, A5 Cabriolet and A5 Sport­back.

To trace its his­tory, the com­pact Audi pre­mium sedan sold over 12 mil­lion times since the Audi 80 ar­rived in 1972.

A4 made its de­but in South­ern Africa around 1994 and racked up 110,000 sales. This new model may look sur­pris­ingly like the pre­ced­ing ver­sion but is ac­tu­ally made of 90% new parts.

The drive trains are up to 25% more pow­er­ful and 21% more ef­fi­cient, there’s a wide range of in­fo­tain­ment sys­tems and driver aids avail­able while a lot of time was spent on aeroa­cous­tics – how qui­etly it drives.

In this re­gard it had a su­perb start­ing point by be­ing closely re­lated to cousin Pas­sat from VW. Audi threw words like “sporty”, “func­tional” and “un­der­stated” into the launch pre­sen­ta­tion, all of which are ab­so­lutely true.

I would also add “spa­cious” as it’s 16mm wider and 25mm longer than be­fore.

“Com­fort­able and solid” cer­tainly wouldn’t go amiss either as this seems to be the hall­mark of the Mqb­plat­form.

The eas­i­est way to spot a new A4 on the road is by its door mir­rors, which are ac­tu­ally planted on the doors. You could also em­ploy a scale to find dif­fer­ences of up to 120kg.

Most no­tably though, all fresh A4’s have slightly dif­fer­ent front and rear light clus­ters where Xenon head­lights are stan­dard on all mod­els; and Ma­trix LED’S are an op­tion.

The A4’s in­te­rior leans on the de­sign of the Q7’s with its stubby gear lever dou­bling as a wrist rest for MMI in­fo­tain­ment con­trols; all mod­els fea­ture Blue­tooth.

Oc­cu­pants can ex­pect a 24mm in­crease in head room, 11 and 23mm more leg room ( front, back) and a 480L boot to stow their lug­gage.

You also get the choice be­tween three mod­els lines – Stan­dard, De­sign and Sport – with op­tional S-line or De­sign packs.

Audi also of­fers A4 cus­tomers the fab­u­lous Vir­tual Cock­pit (fully dig­i­tal in­stru­men­ta­tion) with 3D nav­i­ga­tion and en­hanced ve­hi­cle in­for­ma­tion but this re­quires the in­clu­sion of their full-fat MMI sys­tem op­tion.

Other op­tional good­ies in­clude Audi’s smart­phone in­ter­face for IOS and An­droid de­vices, as well as Audi- de­vel­oped 32- gi­ga­byte re­mov­able An­droid tablets for the en­ter­tain­ment of any­one re­sid­ing in the rear seats.

There are many more op­tions so check with your near­est Audi dealer for de­tailed specs, colour and trim com­bi­na­tions, ex­tras and en­gine choices.

At the mo­ment you may opt for either a 110kw / 250Nm 1.4 TFSI or 140kw / 320Nm 2.0 TFSI (both turbo-petrol) with a 185kw / 370Nm 2.0 TFSI ex­pected soon and a 140kw / 400Nm 2-litre turbo-diesel ar­riv­ing in Oc­to­ber.

Avant sta­tion- wag­ons are not ex­pected lo­cally but an S4 ar­rives in 2017 and RS4 a year later.

The launch route took us into the Ka­roo via moun­tain passes where this A4 show­cased its solid and comfy ride with amaz­ing fron­twheel-drive agility in the cor­ners.

Steer­ing feed­back isn’t pin-sharp but praise­wor­thy for a lux­ury sedan with a fur­ther drive se­lect op­tion to rem­edy this.

All mod­els were fit­ted with du­al­clutch au­to­mat­ics but the 1.4T can be had with a six-speed stick.

While it may not de­velop heaps of power, my co-driver and I hap­pily agreed to call its ef­forts “ad­e­quate” with su­pe­rior fuel ef­fi­ciency.

Go for the 2-litre petrol or diesel model if you’re al­ways in a big hurry.

In sum­mary, Audi has played it very safe with the looks of their lat­est A4 while im­prov­ing al­most ev­ery other fea­ture.

The Mercedes C-class may get you more looks and BMW’S 3Series cre­ates whiter knuck­les but this car walks a so­phis­ti­cated path for the mar­que with four rings; which is ex­actly what they wanted.

Audi’s A4 needed to catch up to its com­peti­tors - which it has.

Text Hanjo Stier Im­ages Audi South Africa

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