Audi A4 2.0 TFSI quattro road test and review
AUSSIES have a taste for premium. A raft of compact Europeans at lower prices are feeding a growing appetite and setting buyers up for the brand's full menu.
The philosophy is relatively simple: give drivers a sample of the best, and they'll never leave.
Small plush offerings have been hitting the market in recent years for just over $30,000, but when buyer lifestyles and needs change the brands have the acumen to offer something which fills the void.
While SUVs are charging in the Australian market, the premium compact sedan also grew. During 2015 that segment was up 18% whereby the mainstream equivalent grew by just 4% in a record-breaking year.
Which is why the new A4 is vital for Audi. It has grown in dimensions but its weight has been reduced.
Longer by 25mm than the previous model and with 16mm added to its width, the wheelbase has increased by 12mm to improve luggage space.
We jumped into the range-topping version which has a $69,900 price-tag.
The most enticing feature comes on the optional extras list. Named the "virtual cockpit", the digital driver display is simply brilliant.
Enamoured with our first introduction to this colour digital design in the TT sports car, and then again in the hulking Q7 SUV, the crisp display and configurable information sets the standard in this genre.
The driver can toggle between various styles on the 31.2cm screen, such as the tacho and speedo prominent, or reduce their size to feature the sat nav information.
That feature is available for $2100 with the head-up display as part of the Technik package and it's well worth the investment.
Another 21cm colour screen folds out from the dash for the infotainment functions, all controlled by a central circular dial. You also have a touchpad to zoom in and out as well as scratch out characters - a function we didn't find that useful as we're more akin to the dial operation.
Also improved is the voice recognition system that is available via a button on the steering wheel. Where as in the past the process has been laborious, using the system to input sat destinations and make phone calls is simpler and doesn't have you shouting instructions repeatedly at the car.
Refinements have also been made throughout the cabin, and the continuous horizontal air vent strip which runs across the dash accentuates space.
Excellent head, leg and shoulder room is available, with three adults across the rear bench seat achievable.
On the road
Powerful yet supremely quiet, this derivative is the most potent of the A4 line-up (there will be quicker S and RS variants to come).
Remarkably lithe and adept, the compact sedan feels light in rapid directional changes, charged but also planted and controlled with the famed Quattro all-wheel drive strutting its stuff.
Exercise your right ankle and the A4 will sprint from standstill to 100kmh in 5.8 seconds, trimming through the seven-speed gearbox with creamy ease.
Noise intrusion has been noticeably improved with a serene ride even while riding on low-profile 19-inch alloys.
The only real complaint came from the intrusive lane assist functionality which we prefer to turn off. It regularly makes the steering feel artificial, and we found the same effect in the Q7.
And not even traffic can get on your nerves. When things get boring and slow, the A4 can take over steering at speeds of up to 65kmh. Working primarily on major roads with clear line markings, it uses a radar, ultrasound sensors and front camera as well as lane markings and other vehicles to guide the car safely through snarls.
What do you get?
Basic equipment includes sports front seats, leather trim, three-zone air-con, paddle shifters on the steering wheel, sat nav, internet connectivity and wi-fi hot spot along with full bluetooth smartphone integration with Apple Car Play and Android Auto.
Safety is top-notch, incorporating eight airbags, attention assist which analyses driver behaviour to warn of drowsiness, blind spot warning, cross traffic alert to help when reversing out of parks and autonomous braking which can help avoid or reduce the severity of an accident.
It's hard to go past some of the options, and the Technik pack is one of the best while the S line Sport package with 19-inch alloys, aluminium inlays, flat-bottom steering wheel, stainless steel pedals and alcantara leather is also hard to resists. But tick a few boxes and that bottom line quickly climbs.
Leading the competition charge is the Mercedes-Benz C250, BMW 330i, Infiniti Q50 2.0t S and the Lexus IS200t F Sport.
Fuel consumption certainly won't break the bank with the A4 sipping less than seven litres for every 100km.
For those new to the prestige realm you can avoid any servicing shocks by getting a care plan for maintenance, but as you would expect servicing will be more expensive than mainstream. It is easier on the wallet than an SUV in terms of brakes and tyres.
With a sizable boot able to handle a couple of large suitcases, as well as the ability to fold the rear seats, the A4 is a useful family chariot.
One road trip had the A4 easily handle an adult-size bike, suitcase, a couple of other bags and extras without any issues.
Two cup holders are in the centre console, and another pair are located in the fold-down arm rest in the back, while bottle holders are found in the doors.
Boasting an edgier appearance, the trademark grille wearing the four rings and clam-shell-style bonnet make a bold statement on the front while the light clusters have been designed horizontally to create a wide stance.
Along the side, the A4 has a sharp shoulder line. The rear continues the horizontal design.
Not only does it look sharp, but it's also slippery. Aerodynamically is impressively sleek, and not far of the new sharp-edged Toyota Prius in terms of coefficient drag numbers.
Everything the A4 does feels effortless. While not flairy or egotistical, it has airs and graces of something special.
Our test car was especially impressive, although it was bolstered by a raft of features and options.
What matters most
What we liked: Wonderful quiet cabin, power and poise, cabin and boot space.
What we'd like to see: Less intrusive lane keep assist function, virtual cockpit to be standard.
Warranty and servicing: Three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. A servicing plan is available for three years or 45,000 kilometres for $1620. Servicing is every 15,000km or 12 months.
Model: 2016 Audi A4 2.0 TFSI Quattro s tronic sport
Details: Four-door five-seat all-wheel drive luxury sedan.
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 185kW @ 5000rpm and peak torque of 370Nm @ 1600rpm.
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic.
Consumption: 6.3 litres/100km (combined average).
Performance 0-100kmh: 5.8 seconds; top speed 250kmh.