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Review: New Audi A4 1.4 TFSI

Driven August 2016

Review: New Audi A4 1.4 TFSI

Wait, how new is this ‘new A4’?
Well, as surprising as it may sound, it is an all-new car. It may look similar to its predecessor and even tempt you into thinking that it’s another one of those LED shows that Audi has put up, but that is not the case. This A4 is based on the new MLB platform and has had everything refreshed, from the interiors to a new engine. So, worry not, read on to find out more about this brand new car.

Good to know. But since it’s a generation change, they could’ve styled it differently. Don’t you think?
Yes. It does look similar to the older car and now with this new grille, it’s more confusing to tell apart from the rest of the Audi sedans. It wasn’t so long back that the A4 kick-started this entire phenomenon of day-time running LED lamps and Audi has stuck to its guns with it. In fact, the entire headlamp unit is now illuminated by LEDs and it gets a new distinct pattern as well. Apart from the headlamps and tail lamps giving it a more aggressive stance, the grille looks sharper as well. It is hard to tell the differences in overall design, although the new car is not only longer, but also wider than its predecessor.

So, what’s the inside story like?
While you may need a keen eye to pinpoint changes on the outside, you will have no such problems with the interior. A large screen sits bang in the middle of the dash, the MMI system comes with handwriting recognition, and the instrument cluster is yet another LED screen that can be customised to give you the information you desire. Plus, the climate control has settings for three-zones now. Yes, that means a separate one for the rear seat.

Apart from this, there are eight-customisable buttons that can serve as shortcuts to various features/information and the separate keys can be programmed to remember individual settings for the user in question. The nicest part though is the interior room that the designers have managed to free up for the second row of passengers.

Impressive. Tell us more
As with every Audi that you come in touch with, materials are of impeccable quality. Everything is great to touch and there are classy touches all around the cabin, like the wood-inlays in the dash, the multi-layered controls for the infotainment system and the air-conditioning. Needless to say, the leather wrapped seats offer a great deal of support and are finished just as well.

What’s this new motor?
Audi has gone ahead and jumped the gun here. They have decided not to chase the big numbers anymore and concentrate on improving on the rest of the package. This 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine, the only one being introduced as of now in India, is a testament to that. It manages a healthy 150bhp and 250Nm of torque, which combines with the dual-clutch seven speed S-tronic gearbox to make for acceptable levels of performance.

In fact, this compact little motor manages the same sort of acceleration from 0-100kph as the outgoing larger petrol engine, while improving on fuel efficiency by a fair margin to register a claimed efficiency of over 17kpl. A lot of this performance can be credited to the seven-speed gearbox. Cruising at triple digit speeds is quite relaxing with the quiet cabin providing a perfect setting for a long haul. However, push this motor hard and the result isn’t too spectacular. At higher revs, the engine sounds stressed and although it manages a good 150kph, acceleration past this can be termed gradual at best.

Does it push the envelope as far as ride and handling go?
If there is one thing the new A4 does well, it is being driven in a relaxed manner with the drive select left in ‘Comfort’. The light steering makes it a breeze through urban situations and the suspension soaks up most of what you can throw at it. Gearshifts are a bit slow here, but you can always pick ‘S’ to quicken things up a bit.

But, if ‘Dynamic’ is what you are after with the hopes of enthusiastic driving, the A4 isn’t quite ready to entertain. Yes, the steering becomes sharper and the shifts are quicker, but the ride also gets stiff and thuds along. Even in Comfort mode, sharp edges and potholes do tend to make themselves known and the car becomes rather bouncy over humps once you’ve gathers some speed.

Plus, you aren’t quite sure about what the steering is exactly doing and there isn’t a great deal of feedback either. This, however, serves very well for those who would like to have an A4 but couldn’t be bothered to drive themselves around. And the more economical engine should mean less frequent visits to the pump.

So, what’s your take on the new A4? Worth it?
To be honest, the A4 has improved upon pretty much every aspect. The interior and cabin space are huge pluses and will surely rank high on the list of several prospective buyers. For now, the 1.4-litre engine may make some wait for a diesel or a bigger petrol to arrive, but for all practical purposes, it does just fine and when you treat it well it can be easy on the pocket, too.

There may not be a whole lot of difference at first glance, but there is enough and it has been subtly executed to look sharper without being loud. Full marks there to Audi. Now for them to get the final bit with the price. From past experiences, they are going to be pretty competitive, especially with all that equipment thrown in. To get an exact idea though, you will just need to watch this space for a bit longer.

Debabrata Sarkar

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