Published on March 13th, 2017 | by Subhash Nair


Audi A4 Review: When Less is More

Remember when German cars were distinguished, solid and handsome? Things have changed haven’t they? BMW continues to leave passengers in the back seat for unforgettable driver experiences. Mercedes-Benz has been hard at work making some serious eye candy. Audi seems to be the only brand that hasn’t picked an approach.

Yet, after driving the new A4, we have to argue that they kind of know what they’re doing. And what they’re doing, is offering something that’s built on oldschool ‘German Sedan’ values.

Admittedly though, the new A4 was a bit difficult for me to swallow. Back in 2010, the B8 generation of the A4 was, to me, so beautiful it deserved a place on my wall. The lines were perfect, the look was aggressive and distinguished. It was the first time Audi looked more handsome than their competitors in this segment.

This new A4 isn’t bad looking. In fact, it’s far from bad looking. It’s just not as flawless from a design standpoint. A simple illustration is this line, as pointed out by my colleague, Bo Feng.

In the previous A4 (the B8), the shoulder line reaches into the tail light, makes a turn and integrates into the bumper gap.

In the B9, it’s a bit of a mess.

But that’s about the extent of our complaints. Because everything else about this new design shows progress. And the best part is, despite looking ten years newer than the B8, it’s still an A4 from all angles. That’s something you can’t say about its competition, where the family genes run a bit too strong.

The A4’s design is sleek, yet many complain that it lacks the ‘bling’ factor. But what exactly is wrong with that? It’s a German Compact Executive, not a Chinese Fengtau Machine. To understand the appeal of a toned down design like this, you only have to look back a couple of generations.

Before the ‘coupefication’ of the premium segment, German sedans were about restraint. Less was always more. But nowadays, a sedan has to be more than a sedan. It needs to have a coupe roofline. It needs to have sportscar levels of performance. What you end up with is a compromised product.

The A4 isn’t affected by this. There is no need for it to ‘wow’ an audience. It’s competitive. And in the grand scheme of things, it fills a very niche role within Volkswagen Group’s product lineup.

Because of that, Audi was able to give the A4 some real genre defining characteristics. The rear seats are comfortable and larger than the competition. The interior’s built to last, with better materials and fittings. The ride is appropriately balanced. Taut enough for a sporty experience, yet absorbent enough for a family road trip.

But let’s talk specifics here. In terms of performance, the A4 is powered by a 4-cylinder turbocharged 2-litre. This engine features Audi valvelift system and direct injection. As ‘normal’ as that sounds, Audi has actually made it consume 16% less fuel and 12% more powerful. There’s hardly anything normal about that. 0-100km/h in 7.3 seconds and 5 litres/100km. In short, top-notch.

Behind the wheel, the A4 is very, VERY capable. The front-engine, front-wheel drive setup shows its ‘safer’ characteristic at the limits. But before you even reach its limits (or yours), you’ll already have a smile on your face. It’s the kind of car anybody can take to the extreme but not the kind that beckons you to accelerate hard out of every corner. We like that, it makes everything calmer. The Drive Select makes it capable of a broader range of emotions and this is a car capable of expressing those emotions very well.

The interior plays a big part in this too. The cockpit of the A4 is a very serious affair. The designers spared no expense to make this place look important and expensive. For that we must tip our hats.

Without a doubt, it’s also the most technologically advanced interior in its class. The only real drawback here is that Audi’s Virtual Cockpit is an option. The MMI interface fills the gap though. This super easy to use system has all the fluidity you could ask for in a modern multi-media system.

The A4 may not be as stunning as the C, nor as sporty as the 3 but it feels a lot easier to live with than either. In a decade, it’s the car that will preserve best. Both physically, and in our memories of this era of the automotive industry. The only real issue we see is value.

For RM248,900, you’re getting something that isn’t shouty. It’s the classic German sedan from the 90s. Sleek. Quietly, classically styled. In an age where every car company seems to want to make flamboyant cars, the A4’s saving grace may just be how reserved it is.

Audi A4 2.0TFSI Specifications
Engine: 4-cylinder turbo
Capacity: 1984cc
Gearbox: 7-speed S-Tronic
Max power: 190bhp @ 4200rpm
Max torque: 320Nm @1450-4200Nm
Top Speed: 240km/h
0-100 km/h: 7.3 secs
Selling Price: RM248,900.00

About the Author

Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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