EXTERNALLY, THE 2016 AUDI A4 2.0 TFSI QUATTRO FOLLOWS DARWIN'S THEORY TO THE LETTER: IT IS JUST BARELY MILDLY EVOLVED. IT’S ON THE INSIDE HOWEVER THAT THE REVOLUTION TAKES PLACE.
It is the new levels of interior finesse that are a big part of the new A4’s story, as is the range of new technologies. And, beneath the skin, sits the newest generation MLB platform that Audi will eventually share across the majority of its models.
Its appeal is in the things that you don't immediately see. In that restrained Audi way, this is a medium executive sedan done ‘by the book’.
But this time around, the sublime A4 offers a seriously threatening challenge to its traditional European competitors.
Vehicle Style: Medium luxury sedan
Price: $69,900 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 185kW/370Nm 2.0 4cyl turbo petrol | 7sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed: 6.3 l/100km | tested: 9.8 l/100km
Dressed in the optional S-line appearance package to give it a little extra flair, the A4 2.0 TFSI tested here looks and feels the true premium contender. And seriously lays down the challenge to the C-Class and 3 Series.
- Standard equipment: Leather seat trim, powered front seats with memory function, three-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, 19-inch alloy wheels, LED head and tail lights, auto lights and wipers,
- Infotainment: 8.3-inch display, satellite navigation, Audi Connect online services, in-car WiFi, digital radio, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, 10 speaker audio, MMI touchpad and scroll wheel, 10GB flash hard drive, smartphone connectivity
- Cargo volume: 480 litres, expandable via folding rear seats
Audi’s latest interior theme is about as logical as you’ll find. Clutter is at a bare minimum, yet vital controls are still easy to locate and operate.
The MMI interface ahead of the gear lever is part of the reason, offering multi-function operation of the entertainment system, touch, swipe, and pinch inputs on the screen, and customisable presets for radio stations, phone numbers or addresses.
The placement of the cruise control is a debit. It sits on its own lever low to the left of the wheel, and is hard to find and not as ergonomically-friendly as it should be.
As is the contemporary trend, the dash is laid out horizontally, eschewing the driver-centric cockpit of the previous A4. That isn’t to say the driver isn’t the star however, with the optional Virtual Cockpit display delivering a wealth of information directly to the driver.
Thanks to the S-line appearance package, this A4 also picks up a few sporting touches like the flat-bottom steering wheel, perforated leather highlights, brushed aluminium trim sections and a black headlining. On top of that Nappa leather seats have been added with S embossing.
For space and comfort the A4 is hard to fault. After dropping into the low-set powered front seats there’s plenty of space to stretch into, and a generous amount of seat travel.
Similarly, the outboard rear seats feel more generous than the A4’s proportions suggest, with plenty of leg and headroom. The only seat that misses out is the centre rear, best kept for short trips or youngsters only.
Boot space is at a reasonable 480 litres, which seems to be the class-average, plus there are deep door pockets as well as shallow storage under the front armrest
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 185kW/370Nm 2.0 litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
- Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, quattro all-wheel-drive
- Suspension: Five-link front and rear independent, with (optional) adaptive dampers
- Brakes: 338mm ventilated front discs, solid rear discs
- Steering: Electrically assisted, turning circle: 11.6m
- Towing capacity: 1800kg braked, 750kg unbraked
Audi’s 2.0 litre TFSI four-cylinder petrol engine is yet another example of big power from a relatively small engine, offering the kind of performance you’d expect from a six-cylinder engine.
In this instance, the turbo four delivers 185kW of power from 5000 to 6000rpm, with 370Nm of torque on hand from 1600 to 4500rpm.
That makes the A4 2.0 TFSI quite a swift conveyance, able to whisk you from standstill to 100 km/h in a mere 5.8 seconds. More crucially though, it also gives the A4 a confident stride for merging or overtaking in flowing traffic.
Out on the open road the A4 is calm and quiet, settling into a low rpm cruise, but ready to spring to life if you need a sudden burst of acceleration. Overtaking sees just the briefest pause while the turbo spools up, then it positively fires, having you out and around in seconds.
Similarly, for city driving, the A4 delivers rapid acceleration after a little first gear hesitation.
It is helped by the seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmission, which provides lightning-fast gear changes and an uninterrupted power flow. There are also paddles at the wheel for self-shifting, which, with all that power on tap, and an engine happy to find full-voice, can add to the fun around a set of bends.
The quattro grip and beautifully anchored front-end also combine to give the A4 the precise and nimble feel of hot-hatch.
Adaptive suspension was another optional inclusion of this car, priced at $1100 if you can keep the total price of the car below the $75,375 Luxury Car Tax threshold for efficient vehicles, or $1430 if it sneaks over, linked via Audi’s 'drive select' controller.
With it you can rotate through 'comfort' and 'dynamic' modes, and combinations thereof, allowing a more comfortable ride when desired, but able to be firmed up at the touch of a button for more challenging roads.
Similarly, by selecting Dynamic mode engine, transmission, and steering responses are remapped to give the car a more enthusiastic feel.
Regardless of the mode selected, body control is exceptional, and, although there’s a firm undertone to the ride across all modes, none are crassly 'hard' or uncomfortable.
Sharpened reflexes, with direct steering, involving handling, and strong brakes certainly give the A4 a heightened sense of driver involvement, but at the same time none of our passengers complained about the ride or comfort on offer.
Tyre roar is noticeable, and a bit intrusive on coarse bitumen - but that's a complaint common to European cars that are engineered for the glass-smooth highway heaven of western Europe.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars
Safety features: Eight airbags (dual front, front side, rear side, full-length curtain), autonomous emergency braking, fatigue monitoring, ABS brakes with brake assist, electronic stability control and traction control, tyre pressure monitoring, rear view camera and front and rear park sensors.
Optional safety packages include the Assistance Package ($2470) including adaptive cruise control, active lane assist, turn assist, collision avoid assist, and high beam assist, and the Parking Assistance Package ($1255) which adds a 360 degree camera system and park assist for parallel and perpendicular spaces.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The very obvious competition comes from the BMW 330i and Mercedes-Benz C250, although the latter is some way short on power, and neither is as torquey. Dynamically the BMW is hard to beat, and for interior presentation the Benz really impresses.
Opt for the Lexus IS200t and you’ll find an incredibly willing engine, unfortunately matched to a dim-witted transmission.
Volvo’s S60 T5 is another on-paper rival, but it’s starting to show its age, and it isn’t until you step up to the more powerful and expensive T6 that all-paw traction becomes available.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Just before you reach the top-tier of the medium executive sedan class, there’s a strongly competitive range of 'in-the-middle' models that really deserve a closer look.
The Audi A4 2.0 TFSI provides a sensible blend of practicality and performance. On city or country roads, this a beautifully balanced car with a true thoroughbred feel.
Audi’s clever and refined interior earns top marks for its easy-to-use ergonomics and understated, but unmistakeably premium, aesthetics. Certainly, you pay quite a bit more for the A4 than for a mainstream medium sedan, but the quality is tangible.
Stylish, swift, yet subtle - Audi’s newest A4 is a very impressive car. It's one that, as a reviewer, you find yourself saying, "Yes, I'd have one of these."
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