I recently had the pleasure of driving the new Audi A4, which was one such vehicle. I will admit though, it left me slightly annoyed, not because of what was wrong with it, but because there was a distinct lack of things to find fault with.
The previous generation A4 was also a great car however, for me at least, it had this sales rep stigma attached to it, as if the older model came standard with a Takeaway Breakfast and copious cups of coffee every morning. Now though, the new model has changed my perception of the A4; it looks like something any executive would be proud to be seen in.
That “big car” appeal that the new Jaguar XE and Mercedes-Benz C-Class seem to pull off so well is evident in the new A4, too. Its platform alludes to its big-car feel; it is the VW Group’s MLBevo platform, which is, for larger vehicles and underpins everything from the A4 to the new Bentley Bentayga and Audi Q7.
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The model that I had on test looked particularly good as it was the Sport Line. Despite its sporty aesthetics there is still a rather conventional 1.4-litre turbo petrol motor under the hood. It produces 110kW/250Nm, which is just right for daily use. The car does have good poke; it will get from 0-100km/h in a claimed 8.5 seconds. I managed to get the vehicle to a consumption figure of 7.8 litres/100km on a combined cycle, despite the 5.1 litres/100km claim.
Inside it is a typical Audi affair, an ergonomic masterpiece, with everything intuitively placed and the materials from the very top drawer. The older Audi interiors were brilliant at their inception but aged, versus competitors. However, the new A4 has simplified things quite a bit; the layout is cleaner, with an emphasis on clean surfaces.
In terms of drive quality the new A4 is exceptional; it wafts along, far better than a car in its segment should. There is very little interruption from wind, engine noise or vibrations. The car feels like an exercise in over-engineering, as if every piece was examined so thoroughly that there is not much to find fault with. That is perhaps why the A4 is so late to the party, the delay was so that the vehicle could be perfected, however, people don’t like waiting and would likely have considered the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, (dare I say it), the new Volkswagen Passat or the Jaguar XE before the A4’s launch.
In terms of handling, there’s no drama, and therefore the car doesn’t feel like the sportiest thing out there, but for everyday scenarios it is brilliant. I enjoyed driving the A4 so much in fact, that any excuse to step out for a cruise would suffice, which is the sign of a good car.
If I had to complain about something it would be those pesky optional extras, which on my test unit pushed the list price from a reasonable R492 000 to R600 000. For the additional outlay there were niceties such as an upgraded infotainment system, the beautiful Audi Virtual cockpit and an upgraded sound system to name a few. However, one must consider that you’re now paying R600 000 for a well-specified 1.4-litre D-segment saloon car, despite the fact that it is brilliant in pretty much every measureable way.