Driving the new Audi A4 models
More than 25 years of production and the A4 range just keeps delivering the goods.
With its mix of Sedan and Avant variants, the new Audi A4 range caters to a wide range of tastes and lifestyles and does it so very well.
14 August, 2020
Before there was the Audi A4 there was the Audi 80, a trim, well appointed mid-sized premium model (available as a Sedan or Avant) that showcased the brand’s engining, driving dynamics and finish. Such was the popularity of successive Audi 80 models that the brand decided to invest in the concept of a cutting-edge, mid-sized model and in 1994 the first A4 model was born.
Since that initial launch, the A4 family of cars have continued to be a resounding success. A year after its initial release, nearly 300,000 A4 models were sold worldwide and as of last year, more than 7.5 million A4s had been sold – with no signs of that popularity abating.
New variants have been added, with performance models in the shape of S and RS variants, as well as specialist models like the A4 Cabriolet and allroad quattro bringing even greater depth to the line.
Each successive new A4 generation has raised the bar of the previous model in terms of its luxury offering, technology and of course performance. New manufacturing techniques have seen the A4 grow in size, yet not in weight, while the sheer variety of A4 models have ensured its popularity and appeal for a diverse yet fiercely loyal group of customers around the globe.
The new Audi A4 line-up continues the tradition of raising the bar and offering a model to pretty much suit everyone in the premium market. Once again offered as a Sedan and Avant and with the specialist A4 allroad quattro also in the mix, the model again caters to a broad cross section of lifestyles. Very different vehicles in many respects, but all brimming with new technology and offering a true Audi experience in terms of drivability and luxury finish.
Each successive new A4 generation has raised the bar of the previous model in terms of its luxury offering, technology and of course performance
The extensive equipment levels and ride set a new standard for A4
Right from the entry model the new A4 impresses. Powered by a 2.0-litre petrol engine designated 35 TFSI, the front-wheel drive Sedan looks sharp, sophisticated and more like the A6 Sedan in its finish and external design. The extensive equipment levels and ride set a new standard for A4 – and remember we haven’t even mentioned the quattro models yet.
In fact, aside from the silky smooth ride and the amount of tech there is to play with, it’s the fact that the 35 TFSI Sedan hunkers down when pushed that impresses the most. Its 110kW of power and 270Nm of torque from right down low in the rev range provide more than enough urge for the cut and thrust of traffic, as well as overtaking, on the freeway, and making the most of twisty roads. Grip is excellent and only as speeds increase and corners begin to tighten do you remember that this is a front-wheel drive version.
Boasting everything from Audi virtual cockpit, MMI Navigation, Audi phone box light (wireless charging) and leather appointed seating with electrically adjusted front seats, this is an impressive package straight ‘out of the box’. Look to the 45 TFSI with its additional performance and of course quattro all-wheel drive, and those driving dynamics step up another notch.
The 45 TFSI ups the ante considerably in terms of power and torque, with 183kW and 370Nm respectively and with the addition of quattro its overall performance really does go to a new level.
Available in the Sedan and both Avant variants (read allroad quattro) the 45 TFSI really is the sweet spot, comfortably delivering sub-six second 0 to 100km/h times (5.8 to be precise) with power available right through the rev range.
This engine too is mated to the seven-speed S tronic transmission and the combination wants for nothing, whether you simply select drive or sport modes, or elect to take the manual route and use the shift panels on the multi-function wheel.
The quattro system which features ultra technology is seamless, engaging the front wheels only for the bulk of day-to-day driving, but sending the power down through all four wheels not only when any slip is detected but also predictively based on your driving style, engine speed and steering angle. No matter how aggressive you are or how suddenly you change direction, you will not catch this system out or even be aware that the drive is anything but all-wheel drive – all the time. The system saves fuel and also saves some wear on drive components, but again, you simply will not be aware of it switching modes – which of course is what you want.
Whether you decide to go with the 45 TFSI quattro in Sedan or Avant configuration is purely a matter of style, taste and lifestyle, with each riding beautifully in all conditions on 19-inch alloys as standard (allroad excepted) with sport suspension and of course the ability to adjust the ride via the Audi Drive select.
It’s the sort of ride that you can play around with as much as you like or set and forget. By all means select dynamic and revel in the firmed-up suspension feel and revised change points, but comfort mode even on a twisty, rutted road is a good place to be.
You simply will not be aware of the quattro with ultra switching modes – which of course is what you want
The A4 Avant 45 TFSI quattro S line on test also featured an additional black exterior package which added subtle black highlights
Inside you’re treated to high levels of luxury appointment and tech, and the 45 TFSI quattro Sedan driven on test (pictured) was also fitted with the Carbon & black package which combined a striking black exterior treatment that included carbon rear lip spoiler and wing mirrors. The carbon treatment also extended to the interior where the inlays in carbon atlas looked right at home as part of the slick interior.
Indeed, the A4 Sedan 45 TFSI quattro S line got plenty of looks on the test drive, or perhaps other motorists were looking at me for whatever reason? Hard to be sure, but the Quantum grey with the Carbon & black package certainly makes a statement.
The A4 Avant 45 TFSI quattro S line on test also had an additional black exterior package which added subtle black highlights – Singleframe grille surround, roof rails mirrors and bumpers – to the new Avant styling. Here too the 45 TFSI provided the perfect powerplant for the mid-sized luxury Avant, that despite its wagon configuration and addition size, feels for all the world like a sports sedan when you’re behind the wheel. Effortless motoring all day long.
The 45 TFSI also sees service in the A4 allroad quattro, but customers have the option of going with a diesel powerplant in the form of the 40 TDI engine. With 140kW and 400Nm of torque it doesn’t have quite the top end of the 45 TFSI, but with its considerable torque and fuel economy of 5.2L/100km compared to the 7.1L/100km of the 45 TFSI, it makes a lot of sense given the needs and lifestyle of many allroad quattro owners.
The TDI powerplant is supremely capable and unfussed, just loping along out on the freeway, but with plenty of torque as and when required for overtaking or just enjoying certain roads. The allroad quattro rides on 18-inch alloys as standard (pictured here on optional 19-inch wheels) and also rides 46mm higher than the A4 Avant thanks to its allroad-specific five-link suspension. It also boasts a wider track – 6mm front and 11mm rear – which translates into greater stability particularly on loose surfaces, which of course is part of the appeal of this allrounder.
The driving dynamics of a wagon, but with many of the more desirable attributes of an SUV – have long made the A4 allroad quattro and its A6 sibling tremendously popular in Australia, and this new model again delivers the goods in terms of a handsome allrounder.
At the end of the day it’s a matter of what suits your sense of style and lifestyle best. For those who spend any time on unsealed roads, the allroad quattro, with its additional ride height and suite of car control systems, as well as underbody protection and TDI option makes a lot of sense. But then the A4 allroad quattro is equally at home in the city where the distinctive styling becomes an attractive point of difference.
Then there are the A4 Sedan and Avant which more than live up to expectation, in fact the level of equipment across the board in concert with the sharp new styling maintain the A4’s proud tradition of significantly raising the bar with each successive generation. The brand’s most successful model line continues to impress.
But then the A4 allroad quattro is equally at home in the city where the distinctive styling becomes an attractive point of difference
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