When Audi renews its bestseller, you can expect new pinnacles of drivetrain technology and in the art of bodywork building. The focus for the Audi engineers was not only on building a car with timeless elegance, whilst keeping the typical styling personality of the A4, but also on further reducing CO2 emissions. So this new A4 is bristling with new state of the art technology, and behind the wheel, this certainly shows every inch you drive it. Just read further!
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Superb sporting experience with the A4 3.0 TDI quattro tiptronic…
The dynamic PR people of D’Ieteren Audi Import invited us to a test drive of the new A4 range, and we had the opportunity to test some quite interesting models. We started off with a pristine A4 3.0 TDI quattro tiptronic, with not less than 200 kW under the hood. Needless to say this car displayed truly superb driving dynamics, and the chassis proved right away that it was quite up to its task.
The power is superbly transmitted through the 8-speed tiptronic with DSP and sport program, ad a hydraulic torque converter does all the work of transmitting the enormous 600 Nm of torque of the V6 diesel engine with exhaust turbocharger to the four wheels. We drove it indeed in the dynamic mode, and this A4 was an immense joy to drive.
Everything is perfectly balanced, the responsiveness of chassis and brakes, the massive, uninterrupted power flow of the engine, which stays smooth and emits only a well sounding six cylinder note when pushed harder. What the transmission is concerned, it is good to note that the eight-stage tiptronic have been redesigned; this automatic transmission now offers a fuel-saving freewheeling function.
Wheel-selective torque control supplements the work of both the front-wheel drive and the quattro drive versions. For the most powerful TDI, the one we tested here, Audi will offer the sport differential on the rear axle as an option starting in 2016.
Performance is of course in (almost) the super car class, with an acceleration form 0 to 100 in 5,3 seconds, top speed electronically limited to 250 km/h.
The A4 steers with utmost precision through its electromechanical steering with speed-dependent power assistance, and the car feels surprisingly nimble, considering its size: it is 4.73 meters (15.5 ft) long and sports a wheelbase of 2.82 meters (9.3 ft).
Only logical if one considers that the weight has been reduced, by up to 120 kilograms. The handling has indeed been further improved, not neglecting comfort. Indeed, under spirited driving, one is well informed about increase in lateral forces and “feels” the car very well when speed increases in curves or when dashing with high speed over winding roads. The redeveloped five-link axle sees to that, together with, as we mentioned, the exceptionally light electromechanical steering.
Our test car came with this optional dynamic steering, which varies its ratio according to the car’s speed and the steering angle, and a suspension with adjustable shock absorbers with which the driver can for the first time select between two settings: sports or comfort.
Indeed, both of suspension settings are included in the Audi drive select driving-dynamics system, which is standard equipment for models with engines of 140 kW (190 hp) and above.
One word of praise is fitting also for the increased level of comfort. The ride comfort is quite good for its class, even with the setting in dynamic mode.
Timeless elegance, both inside and out
We have always found the A4 a well proportioned car, with a timeless elegance, and the new model has admirably continued in this same tradition. Elegance also meets efficiency here, as a drag coefficient of a mere 0.23 confirms. Lines are even more balanced, and the new A4 looks good from any angle, both inside and out.
The smooth lines of the interior emphasize the width of the cabin, the styling of knobs and controls are refined and of a latin flair, and witness of a admirable workmanship. Not only the looks, but also touch and feel of the materials used is of the highest order. At night, optional discreet contour lighting illuminates the doors and the central console.
The colour scheme of our test car was also especially tasteful with rotor grey coloured alcantara/leather seats and Daytona Grey pearl effect body paint scheme.
Fascinating display of Information: the Audi virtual cockpit and the MMI
Our test car sported the optional Audi virtual cockpit, a fully digital combination instrument, featuring a 12.3-inch LCD screen that displays the most important information in high-resolution graphics, with great detail and rather sophisticated effects. We already admired this in the Audi TT, for instance.
The MMI control concept in the centre console is also a newly designed feature and acts as the main control element. The top level infotainment system, consisting of MMI Navigation plus combined with MMI touch and a large 8.3-inch monitor, has a touchpad in the rotary controller, which lets you zoom in and out and to enter characters. The entire MMI control logic is similar to that of a smartphone, and includes an intelligent free-text search function. The new, more natural, voice-control system also understands input in normal everyday language…
Computer power in the cabin of the A4…
Yes, we are all getting more and more connected, and MMI Navigation plus is backed by the computing power of the second-generation modular infotainment platform, which allows Audi to bring consumer electronics innovations into the vehicle quickly.
In combination with MMI Navigation plus, one automatically receives the Audi connect hardware module, which connects the A4 and A4 Avant with the Internet via the high-speed LTE network.
This means that passengers can surf the Internet and send and receive e-mail with their mobile devices via a Wi-Fi hotspot, while the driver can use the tailored services of Audi connect.
The Audi smartphone interface is a new feature. It integrates iOS and Android mobile phones into an environment developed especially for this purpose – Audi MMI. The Audi phone box connects smartphones to the on-board antenna and charges them inductively according to the Qi standard.
We were of course spoiled by the Bang & Olufsen Sound System with innovative 3D sound in our test car. This 3D feature introduces the additional dimension of height. The new Audi tablet can also be used as flexible rear seat entertainment…
State-of- the-art driver assistance and safety systems.
We could not appreciate them fully through our short test drives of the range, but it is good to mention that the Audi A4 and A4Avant offers a host of driver assistance systems.
The predictive efficiency assistant helps drivers to save fuel, Audi active lane assist helps them to stay in lane and the Stop&Go adaptive cruise control including traffic-jam assist eases driving in slow-moving traffic.
One special feature of “traffic-jam assist” is its control strategy. It takes into account a large number of parameters such as road markings and the traffic ahead.
Some more innovations that make important contributions to safety are parking assist, rear cross-traffic assist, exit warning, collision avoidance assist, turn assist and the Audi pre-sense systems. Camera-based traffic-sign recognition is also available.
We drove further versions of the A4 range, notably the Audi A4 2.0 TDI S tronic (140 kW), the 185 kW A4 avant 2.0 TFSI quattro S tronic, and last but not least the A4 2.0 TDI ultra (110 kW): the frugal and “clean” bestseller…so stay tuned on these columns!
Hans Knol ten Bensel