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Review: Audi A4
Driven June 2012
First things first. If you’ve been following the business papers recently, you’ll probably know Audi has overtaken India’s ultimate status icon, Mercedes, and has climbed to No. 2 on the country’s luxury car charts. One of the reasons that happened is because Audi has been spoiling the affluent with choice – with offerings spanning sports coupes, hardcore sports cars, and SUVs across size and budget.
The Audi A4 has just had a makeover. Those with a keen eye will be able to tell that the headlight dressing is different and the bumper has been reworked. But for the rest of us, the new A4 doesn't look that much different from the older car and that really is no bad thing. It also gets a new pentagonal grille that blends in smoothly with the sharp lines on the hood. At the back, the taillamps too get a slight tweak.
Inside, it’s typical Audi. Good quality materials, superb finish, and to top it all, plenty of gizmos to keep the geeks happy. The MMI system has lost a few buttons and can now be operated with only four of them – good thing for the technologically-challenged, like us. Internationally, the A4 gets a satnav system, but here we’ll have to stick to the old-school way of getting to an unknown location: ask for directions. The new A4 is wider and longer than its predecessor, which translates into more cabin space.
And “new” doesn’t mean just a nose job. The 1.8-litre petrol block puts out 168bhp, a whole 10 horses more than
the old one. Not just that, it generates 320Nm of twist – that’s a massive 70Nm boost. The engine doesn’t feel breathless at any time and has enough shove to keep most people happy. But the CVT's inherent tendency to keep steady engine revs robs you of driving pleasure. We like the engine going through the ratios. But you can stick it in ‘M’ and it gives you eight pre-programmed ratios to play with.
The A4 easily swallows up most potholes but the ride is a tad on the softer side. Hit a couple of large undulations and you can feel the rear pitching more than expected.
Being front-wheel drive, the A4 doesn't have the pointy nature of a BMW, but it will turn with some protest. The steering is a tad light and doesn't give enough feedback. However, the brakes have good bite, with a very positive feel to the pedal. The A4 hits 100kph from standstill in just over eight seconds, which is almost as good as the C200 CGI.
In city traffic, the A4 will burn a litre of petrol every 7.5km. Expect that to increase by a kilometre if auto start-stop is on. And on inter-city highway runs, it goes up to 12kpl if you’re careful. The previous A4 already had its fan base, but the new one, with its sharper looks and meatier engine promises to become an even juicier proposition. And at Rs 27.33 lakh (all prices ex-showroom, Maharashtra), it’ll also be easier on your pocket by a good 70 grand compared to its predecessor.
If you go for the 2.0-litre oil burner, it’ll set you back by Rs 29.38 lakh, while the 3.0-litre diesel Quattro can be yours for Rs 38 lakh. All of which means BMW will have to play its cards really well with the soon-to-be-out 3 Series if it intends to hold on to its crown.