Audi A4 facelift 2.0 TDI review: Sweet Symphony

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Added in: Audi

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The A4 received its mid-life facelift last year. The car, widely appreciated as the most spacious in its class, got even better by a fair margin. New exterior, interior, added features, and all of that at a price lesser than the previous variant – is it all too good to be true? Let’s figure out.

Design and visuals

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The bestselling Audi model, now in its eighth generation, gets a good number of changes for the facelift version. Audi has tried making the car’s face cleaner with fewer distractions, while also giving it a slightly more aggressive look. The horizontal lines at the front are now more pronounced to lend a wider stance to the car. The bonnet looks more arched, with the upper two corners of the Audi grille tapering a bit to give it a proper hexagonal shape. The bumpers exude the most amount of aggression with redesigned air intakes – they are now more angular and sharper looking. The part of the bumper above the air intakes also has a new shape, and so have the fog lights.

Another important change made to the A4’s face is its headlights. Featuring a pair of sharp, angular looking daytime running LEDs the A4 looks classily distinctive when viewed front on. Tapering inwards with a mild wavy form defining their lower boundary, the headlamps are strikingly well designed, not just from the outside, but from the inside as well.

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While the frontal changes aren’t too big, the changes made at the rear are even more subtle. The tail-lamps now get LED strips to complement the design theme at the front. The rear bumper has been redesigned as well, with a diffuser thrown in.

In its latest avatar, the A4 maintain its subtle, classy aura, with a tad more sharpness and zing added to it. It somewhat resembles its bigger cousin, the A6, which cannot be a bad thing at all for the buyer. Look straight at the DRLs if you want an instant differentiation though

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Engine and transmission

The 2.0 liter TDI powerplant under the new A4’s bonnet is the 143PS (at 4000 rpm) variant, unlike the 177bhp version on the Q3.  Remarkably fuel efficient and sufficiently powerful for this 1.5 ton car, the engine never feels short on spunk. On the contrary, the car surges forth with confidence on part throttle, thanks to the 320Nm of torque which is delivered within a band of 1750-2500 rpm.

The highlight of this diesel engine, like most other Audi engines we have tested is its incredible smoothness and refinement. There is hardly any noise from the power plant. Even with the bonnet thrown open, the engine emanates minimal noise – uncharacteristic of diesel units. In addition to its refinement and linear power delivery, the engine also delights with its fuel efficiency. You can easily get more than 11kmpl within the city limits. On the highway, with an extra light foot, the efficiency can nudge 18-20klmpl if you have an open, flat expanse at avail for a good distance.

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The 2.0 TDI engine is mated with the eight speed Audi MultiTronic transmission. It’s essentially a CVT, with so much technology added to it that it doesn’t feel like one. Shifts are smooth, reasonably quick and imperceptible as long as you are using part throttle. Giving the accelerator pedal the shove makes you feel a very mild lag, but then again, it’ll go completely unnoticed for the average Joe. The bigger 3.0 TDI V6 engine option comes mated with a dual clutch S-Tronic transmission.

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The Engine transmission combo on the A4 makes for a smooth, hassle free and reassuring drive. There are no fireworks here, but the creamy smooth power delivery, along with loads of torque and an efficient transmission make for an assured drive feel, which can turn amply swift too if you really wish it to.

Ride and handling

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The A4 features Independent five link suspension up front and a trapezoidal link suspension at the rear with anti-roll bars both up front and at the rear. Biased slightly towards uncompromisingly plush ride quality, the suspension delivers a supremely absorbent ride at low to medium speeds. Taking in all sorts of road surfaces without as much as a squeak, the Audi A4 delivers one of the finest ride experiences across the brands in its class. The tranquil cabin, thanks to the quiet engine and solid noise insulation helps matters further. It’s only at speeds higher than 130-140 km/h that the cabin poise tends to get disturbed with the suspension softness showing its effect on the tautness of the car as a whole. You can’t really call the car uncomfortable at higher speed, it’s just it feels a tad more wallowy than it should, especially for the driver – not much of a point to ponder given that the A4 also deliver the plushest back seat comfort.

The mighty Quatrro AWD is not available for the 2.0 liter TDI and 1.8 liter TSI engines, with only the more expensive 3.0 TDI and 3.0 TFSI variants offering the feature. Even so, the A4 2.0 TDI delivers reassuring handling which is predictable, assertive and confidence inspiring. It feels a little soft on the limit, but then, as we mentioned earlier, the A4 has its focus more upon occupant comfort than delighting the enthusiast driver.

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The steering, though well weighted and precise, isn’t communicative enough. The smooth, light fashion in which it operates at slow speeds makes maneuvering the A4 in tight spaces a breeze. It’s a new electrohydraulic unit, and contributes its bit in enhancing efficiency by consuming zero power when in dead straight position.

There is ample grip available from the 225 / 50 Michelin rubber, wrapping 17 inch wheels. The A4 is a FWD car, unlike its counterparts from BMW and Mercedes. Yet, with some help from its ESP with electronic limited slip differential, the A4 manages to maintain directional integrity, even close to the limit.

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A bit more engagement would have delighted the petrolhead in us, but having experienced the luxury, smoothness and tranquility on the A4’s backseat first hand, we really don’t have much to complain about. Add to the mix the liberal cabin space and the A4 looks every bit a winner for the average buyer in the segment

Cabin quality, comfort and features

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The cabin quality has been improved in many ways over the earlier version of the car. New materials along with a new treatment have been introduced. To start with, the steering wheel and the drive selector lever are new. The A4 gets a more extensive, newer version of the Audi MMI interface, which is now more convenient to use and has more functions added to it. Most buttons within the cabin now have narrow chrome frames around them to lift the premium feel up.

Trademark Audi solidity and sophistication prevails across the cabin. The strikingly quiet cabin has lesser wind and tyre noise as compared with the previous version of the car, thanks to the lower drag coefficient and better insulation. Even on the boil, the engine makes minimal noise, and there is just a distant thrum that manages to percolate within the cabin.

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Cabin space is remarkable for the segment standards, and the backseat of the A4 is one of the most spacious places to be as regards leg-space and seat comfort. We wouldn’t mind a little more head room through.

Its features galore even on this entry level Audi, an equipment list, along with pictures is provided below:

  • Xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights
  • LED rear lights
  • Light and rain sensor
  • Leather wrapped 4 spoke multi-function steering wheel
  • Central armrest
  • Wood inlays
  • Glass sunroof
  • Electrically adjustable front seats
  • Audi parking system plus
  • Cruise control system
  • Three Zone automatic air conditioning
  • Storage package
  • Electric heated ORVMs
  • Motorised sunblinds for rear windscreen, manual for rear windows
  • Audio system with Bluetooth, Radio, and driver information system
  • Anti theft alarm
  • Anti-theft bolts
  • Energy recuperation
  • ABS with EBD
  • ESP with Brake Assist
  • 4 airbags

..and plenty more

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8 way electrically adjustable driver’s seat

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Smartly finished rear door panel with sun blinds. Big space within the door pockets to store large items

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New steering wheel is similar to that on the Q3. MMI interface has been enhanced. Chrome panels surround almost every insert. Great attention to detail. Quality abounds!

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Instrument panel delivers plenty of information. The central screen can be switched to deliver information on a specific aspect of the car

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The home menu for the MMI interface

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Car settings. You dont get to choose from multiple modes here. You can, however, switch into Sport mode via the drive selector lever.

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Two zone air conditioning is standard

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A reasonably spacious glove compartment

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Controls for the sunroof are slightly different from cars from other brands. Like always, we wish there was a panoramic sunroof here

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Two cup-holders of varying sizes, along with a small slot for cellphone/wallet ahead of the front central armrest. This is in addition to space for one-liter water bottles in door panels

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More space available under the front central armrest, which is adjustable for position

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Plenty of legroom at the rear. Headroom could have been better though.

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225 / 50 Michelin rubber on 17 inch wheels. Plenty of grip on offer

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Space saver spare with 80km/h speed limit.

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Spacious boot with 480 liters capacity

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Sharp looking DRLs, lend the car its unique character and help differentiate from the A6 from a distance

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Front door panel

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Switchgear arrangement on driver side door panel

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Hazard indicator triangle is positioned under the bootlid

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Remote boot opener is placed in the front door panel

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Driver’s seat has a two slot memory function too

Verdict

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At about Rs 31.5 lakh ex-showroom, the Audi A4 2.0 TDI is competitively priced against its rivals. Its virtues include an extremely fuel efficient and super refined engine, great ride quality, great cabin comfort and a liberal feature list. For those who like a refined, self-assured and comfortable ride more than anything else, the A4 simply delights. It may not be the most thrilling car to drive, but it has a set of virtues which would appeal to a majority of entry level car buyers, especially in the Indian context.

For those who prefer their power nap over appreciating the blurred scenery from the backseat window, the A4 is one tough product bin its segment to beat

Approximate price as tested (ex-showroom)

Audi A4 2.0 TDI RS 31.5 lakh
Audi A4 1.8 TFSI Rs 29.3 lakh
Audi A4 3.0 TDI Quattro Rs 41 lakh
Audi A4 3.0 TFSI Quattro Rs 49 lakh

Technical specifications

Engine      4 cyls, 1968cc turbo diesel
Power     141bhp at 4200rpm
Torque     32.63kgm at 1750-2500rpm
Transmission 8 speed CVT Multitronic
Length     4701mm
Width     1826mm
Height     1427mm
Wheel base     2808mm
Suspension
Front     5-link Independent, anti-roll bar
Rear     Trapezodial link, anti-roll bar

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