Tech­nol­ogy as art

BRIAN BAS­SETT gets most com­fort­able with a lot of grunt the new Audi A4 2LiterT FSI S line

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE -

THE Audi A4 has been around since 1994 and has a huge rep­u­ta­tion for re­li­a­bil­ity and dura­bil­ity. Per­haps that is why the ve­hi­cle at first at­tracted the at­ten­tion of older South Africans.

I have two friends who both bought A4’ s some 15 years ago and have now done over 250 000 kms.

Still in daily use, one ve­hi­cle trav­els to Dundee each month to visit the owner’s grand­chil­dren.

To date nei­ther car has given any trou­ble ex­cept for the usual re­newal of tyres and bat­ter­ies nor has ei­ther owner con­sid­ered re­plac­ing the car.

In the past decade, with the in­tro­duc­tion of the RS ( Renn Sport) and the re­ten­tion of Audi’s Quat­tro sys­tem, to­gether with a wide range of fu­tur­is­tic tech­nol­ogy and high qual­ity in­dus­trial de­sign, the A4 now at­tracts many young buy­ers, who are im­pressed by the car’s awe­some rep­u­ta­tion and Iconic sta­tus. Our thanks to Prunella Naidoo, New Car Sales Man­ager at the Audi Cen­ter in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg for al­low­ing us afew days with the ve­hi­cle.

Styling

The new A4 is dis­tinc­tively Audi in de­sign, but has grown to 4,73 me­ters in length, and is 120 kg lighter than the pre­vi­ous model, de­pend­ing on the en­gine.

The greater length pro­vides the de­sign with an el­e­gant and grace­ful ap­pear­ance.

In fact, with the rear door open the car ap­pears to be a small limou­sine.

The de­sign lines are fluid and aero­dy­namic, yet crisp and ath- letic. The front end, with its stan­dard Xenon headlights, tra­di­tional Audi grille and op­tional Matrix LED tech­nol­ogy an­nounces the A4’ s pre­mium sedan sta­tus.

The ve­hi­cle I drove had fivespoke, 18- inch al­loys, which pro­claimed that this A4 had grunt as well as good looks.

The A4 has a drag co- ef­fi­cient of only 0, 23. This low fig­ure is the re­sult of com­plex fine tun­ing and new so­lu­tions.

The outer lines of the air in­lets in­te­grate ad­di­tional air open­ings- they guide some of the air stream over the wheel well, where it flows past the wheels, which have also been aero­dy­nam­i­cally op­ti­mised.

The ex­te­rior mir­rors, po­si­tioned on the door sills with their small, in­te­grated stripes, also aid air­flow.

In­te­rior

The A4’ s in­te­rior is light, spa­cious, and ex­tremely com­fort­able. It also ex­udes qual­ity.

The sports seats in the car I drove are in­fin­itely ad­justable, as is the leather- cov­ered steer­ing wheel. All in­te­rior fin­ishes are in soft leather and high qual­ity soft- touch plas­tics. The A4 sur­passes its pre­de­ces­sors in pro­vid­ing in­creased shoul­der and head room for the driver and front pas­sen­ger. In fact it is one of the most com­fort­able cars I have driven to date.

The rear seat space is also more than ad­e­quate and road noise is min­i­mal so pas­sen­gers can hold con­ver­sa­tions with each other at any speed.

The driver and pas­sen­gers are faced with an abun­dance of in­tel­li­gent tech­nolo­gies, per­haps the most en­joy­able of which is the op­tional vir­tual cock­pit with its 12,3- inch screen which dis­plays high- res­o­lu­tion graph­ics and is a must have with this car.

The MMI con­cept is new and the con­troller fea­tures promi­nently in the cen­tral con­sole, from which most devices are con­trolled.

The dash is dom­i­nated by an 8,3- inch mon­i­tor for, amongst, oth­ers the su­perb op­tional Bang and Olufsen sound sys­tem.

Safety and Han­dling

The A4 has a Euro NCAP fives­tar rat­ing and ev­ery safety de­vice known. There is also a wide range of as­sis­tance sys­tems.

The ones I found most use­ful were the rear cam­era and park as­sist. Our car had the 2.0T FSI en­gine with 140 kW and 370 Nm and a claimed fuel in­dex of 5,4l / 100 km.

The car is pow­er­ful and sta­ble on both tar and gravel. The steer­ing is di­rect and re­spon­sive and the damper con­trol leads to high com­fort lev­els on bad roads.

The auto gear­box is but­ter smooth and most of the time the driver is un­aware of gear changes, un­less of course you use the kick in gear or flappy pad­dles to pass a long truck.

Pric­ing and Guar­an­tees

The 2.0T FSI S tronic comes in three trim lev­els namely Stan­dard, Sport and De­sign.

Pric­ing is R496 000, R517 000 and R513 000, all cars come with Audi’s fiveyear/ 100 000 Free­way plan.

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