GERMAN BUSINESS MIEN
Both the A4 and Passat are welldressed, mid-level executives working in the same conglomerate and serving similar customers, but the two Germans do the job differently.
WWOULD you believe this is a Torque road test comparing two saloon cars? Yes, two saloons, and not SUVs, which are rapidly taking over the market, thereby displacing the sleek and honest passenger “car”.
These two representatives from the endangered notchback species come from the same family in Germany, but each has a certain uniqueness that sets it apart from the other. Both the Audi A4 and Volkswagen Passat are 2-litre/ four-door/five-pax saloons and they share a high degree of technical commonality. But, just like siblings in a family, the two members of the VW Group household are quite different. The A4 has been a consistent competitor in the premium executive segment alongside the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class, while the Passat has been creeping up from a more mundane background to challenge the established players.
Audi’s A4 is the darling of the brand, being a long-standing top-seller in the company’s saloon lineup. A little-known fact is that the A4 began life as the Audi 80, a derivative of the mechanically identical Volkswagen Passat belonging to the same era.
Giugiaro’s Italdesign restyled the four-door fastback Passat to create a three-box saloon which, back in 1972, was arguably the prettiest around, whether with two doors or four. While the 80 became the A4, the Passat continued with its name unchanged.
After years of building rearengine vehicles, Volkswagen entered the mainstream frontwheel-drive market in 1972 OCTOBER 2018