Around the world, a lot of wood pulp gets beaten into paper and then cut to a standard size, which makes it a blank canvas that has been universally accepted to be the most popular size for its ilk. It’s called the ‘A4’. In the wheeled scheme of things, Audi’s primary breadwinner shares the nomenclature and aspires to replicate the brilliance of that simple looking rectangular thing, but signs of ageing were making it look old. So just when things were starting to roll inward at the edges and the whole thing was turning into a creased scroll, Audi has rolled out their new sheet. It smells new, feels crisp and is ready to have its own grand success story scripted over it in some new age font. It’s the new 2016 Audi A4.
Progress is intense they say, and as a result, compared to the previous gen sedan code named B8, 95 kilos of fat has been removed from its predecessor. For India, while the 2.0-Liter TDI will be introduced at a later stage, for now, powering the new A4 is a petrol powered, four cylinder, 1.4-liter TFSI motor. Leaving the murky Arabian Sea behind, we traveled east towards the turquoise waters of the Bay of Bengal to sample an oven fresh Audi. Let’s begin with the motor.
2016 Audi A4 Performance
First and foremost, don’t let the cubic capacity fool you, it’s quite a revelation. It weighs a trickle over a 100 kilos and directs 150 bhp of power developed between 5000-6000 rpm and 250 Nm of twist that it makes in the 1500-3500 rpm band over to the front wheels. Acting as a mediator is a brilliant 7-speed dual clutch S-tronic gearbox which is super agile, smooth like honey and probably is a member of the Mensa club. All that makes the new Audi A4 dismiss the 0-100 kph run in a respectable 8.5 seconds, while top speed is capped at 210 kph.
Off the mark, progress is smooth and that eager gearbox is quick to change ratios or hold onto them, depending on the position of your right foot. There’s hardly any perceptible lag one feels while the motor pulls from the bottom of the rev band, and although not a blitzy performer, the 1.4-liter motor feels adequately quick. When the pedal is mashed, it isn’t a riot, but the way power is translated into momentum is very gentlemanly. What breaks the eerie silence inside the cabin though is that chatty motor which tells you it is working hard when you are cracking the whip. However, at early 3-digit cruising speeds, it spins in lazy silence, the gearbox settles into its highest odd ratio and you could be fooled into thinking that the new A4 is powered by an electric motor.
There are four driving modes to be picked from – Custom, Auto, Comfort and Dynamic. Custom lets you set driving parameters individually, while things adjust dynamically according to your driving inputs in Auto. Comfort on the other hand, makes things plush and unhurried, while the Dynamic mode adds a good amount of weight to the wheel and places shifting points near the redline. If in the mood to take control, you may use the pedals behind the steering wheel, or shift the yacht style gear lever into ‘S’ and take your own decisions or allow the Dual clutch box to reveal its playful side.
What is commendable is how this Audi makes flying saucer like progress and isolates the cabin from what happens outside. The inherent pauses which are felt while in motion as the gearbox changes cogs and propels a motorcar forward are magically absent and that supreme ride quality (more on that later) cossets the passengers in such a fashion that even at high speeds, it fools you into imagining yourself in an airline cabin that is cruising tranquilly. But as is the case with the skies in our country these days, our roads are no different and hitting air pockets while still on the ground is inevitable. We’ll tell you what happens when that happens. Read on…
2016 Audi A4 Efficiency
The new A4 is rated for an efficiency figure of 17.84 kpl and what aids that number is something that Audi calls a ‘Coasting Mode’. So when the car’s cruising with your foot off the accelerator, the gearbox shifts itself into neutral and engine revs drop to idling speeds. Deployment of low friction materials in the drivetrain let the car travel quite some distance as speeds drop down in a lazy fashion. Although the slightest of interruption from your foot on the brake or gas pedal engages an appropriate gear for the current speed and things get back to normal. Similar to how in order to save fuel, some of us reach a certain speed and engage the clutch to let the car coast. You may thank Audi later for hiding your penny-pinching habit behind technological sophistication.
We can stick our neck out and say this is the best car in its segment if one of the duties your premium sedan has to perform is weekly intercity commutes which are quick in the real world, make you and the occupants feel pampered and arrive fresh. Whenever the 2.0-liter TDI fits itself under the new Audi A4’s hood, it will only present a stronger, punchier and an even more efficient case for itself.
2016 Audi A4 Ride & Handling
The new A4 rides on independent suspension, while a lightweight, 5-link axle has been employed at both ends to what they say lays the foundation for better handling and top notch comfort. While we could only experience the straight line behavior of the car, given the test route’s arrow straight nature, the new A4’s handling traits did convey that it could hold fort around bends too. At higher triple digit speeds, the chassis maintained stellar composure and things inside felt quiet and unhurried.
Audi has dialed the suspension to a perfect setting which feels just right for our road conditions. Minor undulations are dismissed like they are non-existent, while during the couple of short bad patches we encountered, it wafted through with a comfortably firm demeanor. We are pleased to report that even on a few occasions when it had to deal with deep ruts and rippled surfaces, the perfectly damped system never crashed even once!
The new lightweight electric steering system feels well weighted at speeds in Dynamic mode and is precise, but like all modern units, those electronic veins won’t send any feels back to your palms on the wheel. It is pointless to even bring up this parameter in a review these days, because these new steering units concentrate on making urban life easy rather than being old fashioned. We’ll tell you though if someone somewhere develops a system that is close to replicating a hydraulic unit.
Braking feels progressively strong and the force is well defined. Which means, your foot always knows how much push the pedal requires for things to halt according to situation. Bringing progress to a halt from higher speeds is a confidence filled affair. The turning radius is impressive too, which should make life easy around town when travelling from one business district to another.
2016 Audi A4 Interiors
Step inside and there is an immediate sense of ‘Nice’ to everything you touch, feel and see. One sits low, but thankfully, the horizontal scheme of things inside accentuate the width which makes things appear proportionate and in order. Also, both the front passenger seats are adjustable in 4 ways for you to find a comfortable position. Should you wish, you can sit tall, or sink deep into the cabin, according to your preference. Although not a novelty, we liked how tall folks can adjust the seat to get the right amount of under thigh support and there’s ample bolstering on the backrest for your frame to stay well supported and in place.
Real wood inlays enhance the premium quotient as it runs through the dashboard along the continuous AC vent. Wood inlays also sit as an L-shaped patch on the central tunnel and leftovers from the plank find space on the door panel.
The static MMI screen continues with the same layout, but now gets additional menu options for an Audi Smartphone Interface that replicates your phone screen on the car’s display. Unlike elsewhere, the top edge of that screen always sits under the bottom edge of the windscreen. So it never obstructs your vision through the front glass. Quite Thoughtful!
The jog dial gets a touch pad through which you can now zoom in or out and it also allows character recognition. There’s a tactile feel to all the switches and stalks and they operate with crisp clicks or what you may also call, sounds of quality workmanship.
And now for the fanciest bit inside the new A4’s cabin. The Virtual Cockpit. A modern LCD screen that replaces conventional meters and lets you toggle between all car related information, without the need to glance sideways. Backed by Nvidia’s powerful Tegra chip, it looks fantastic, is new age and allows zooming into the core of a map, or out of it, without any lag.
There’s a separate phone box under the driver side armrest, which will let compatible phones charge wirelessly, while USB slots inside can still refill the juice in non supported phones.
Aircondtioning is fantastic as we figured on a hot, sunny day, and while front passengers can adjust the temperature individually, rear passengers will have to agree on common climatic conditions.
But once they come to terms, that backseat is a comfortable place to be in, with a good amount of overall support and space. With that ride quality, it could well be the class leader in terms of backseat comfort. But since we only spent a little amount of time there, only an extended stay will confirm our thoughts.
And now for a few details of the 2016 Audi A4 through images…
No Panorama views on this one
Spare wheel is a space saver
Much needed accessory comes factory fitted
You get two programmable keys. Each key remembers the seating position, favored temperature, drive mode and audio settings
Yacht Style shift selector feels great to hold
We wonder if anyone uses discs these days?
Frameless RVM takes inspiration from new age televisions
A rare thing to find in cars these days. So you get to burn…
And you can preserve your ashes too
Audio system sounds crisp and plays content seamlessly from your connected phone
If 480 liters of boot space isn’t enough, a 40:20:40 split collapsible rear seat extends it to 965
Alloy wheel pattern isn’t striking, but looks savvy
The new A4 is a strong contender if it’s a premium sedan that’s gonna drive you home
Dual DRLs for enhanced visibility
Headlamps get all-LED treatment
While the basic silhouette of the new A4 is pretty much identical to the outgoing car, addition of certain creases and that new single frame grille makes the car look sharper than before. The redesigned headlights get a twin DRL setup which takes inspiration from the TT, and its keen edges go a long way in making the front look dapper.
Side mirrors have been moved to now sprout through the door. Which helps air to flow in a more quiet and efficient manner. Audi claims that the new A4 is the most aerodynamic car in its class and has been rated for a drag co-efficient of 0.23.
The long crease that runs along the shoulder has been retained. However, the new tail lamps now sit in symmetry with that line to enhance that flat and wide appearance. So like a tree which sheds its foliage during fall and gets a fresh coat of green in Summer, as a whole, it still is unmistakably an Audi, an A4. Has bloomed to look brighter, more luminous this time.
2016 Audi A4 Verdict
In many ways, Yes! Because in all honesty, as much as we tried, there wasn’t one thing we disliked about the car. If we have to, we’d say that the engine could’ve made more power. But then it works perfectly fine for everyday conditions, is adequately powerful and for that, what you get in return is excellent efficiency from a petrol powered premium sedan. Then there’s that ride quality and the cosseted feeling that minimal, yet modern cabin wraps you in.
The new Audi A4 has a very different kind of appeal if you compare it to its rivals. It focuses on making life easy, comfortable, efficient and effortless. It offers a different experience of motoring where getting from point A to B is luxurious, very today and isolated from all the rubbish outside. So if you’ve been thinking about making paper planes of your parked cash, you won’t go wrong with size A4. Floats watertight as a paper boat too. Prices will be announced next month when the car is launched. Stay tuned for updates.