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9th May 2017 6:56 pm

Audi’s new A4 diesel impresses us with its performance and emerges victorious in a head to head against its Germans rivals. Read on to know more about the luxury sedan.

A matter of ride

  • The new diesel version – there’s no downsizing here, and in fact, the new 2.0-litre ‘35 TDI’ engine is more powerful than the old one.
  • The A4 dons the latest Audi theme set forth by the Q7, and though its design may be restrained, it just reeks of quality. It’s hard to find a poorly made bit in here. The dashboard has a clear ‘horizontal’ theme, framed by the continuous air con vent and the rich-looking slab of wood beneath it, both of which run the width of the dashboard. The ‘metal’ spokes in the steering wheel, the Virtual Cockpit digital dials (a big draw with customers) and the haptic control buttons, all make it feel very high-tech. Even the free-standing screen for the MMI system fits in perfectly with this aesthetic.
  • Audi’s MMI really makes a case for itself. The latest version is loaded with features, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but the best part is that much of the information, including navigation, can be relayed on the Virtual Cockpit’s fully digital instrument cluster, something unique in this segment.
  • Audi’s MMI is much better, and with a host of shortcut keys and colour-coded menus, it’s easy to get familiar with.
  • The Audi exclusively gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a wireless mobile charging pad and a third climate zone for the rear seat.
  • At idle and regular cruising speeds, the new a4 is freakishly silent; it is easily the most refined car in this test.

Diesel Do

  • The Audi is the only one with a separate climate zone for rear passengers. At the front, the A4 offers superb visibility from its comfy and supportive driver’s seat.
  • Audi has made sure to pack its space-saver spare into a proper recess under the floor, so it doesn’t eat into the cargo area at all.
  • This 2.0-litre ‘35 TDI’ diesel engine was something we’ve been anticipating since the A4’s launch last year, but unfortunately Audi had to spend the time retrograding this Euro-IV engine to work with our poor-quality BS-IV diesel. Amazingly, they’ve done it without any loss in power or torque, and the global figures of 190hp and 400Nm remain intact. The other thing that’s stayed unchanged is that refined nature of the VW Group’s latest EA288 diesel engine. Sure, there’s a grumble at startup and a gruffness if you open it up all the way, but at idle and regular cruising speeds, it’s freakishly silent.
  • Audi has finally let go of its Multitronic CVT gearbox for this generation of A4, moving to its superb S-tronic seven-speed double-clutch auto instead. The new motor is typical of the VW Group in more ways than refinement, though, and it’s the one that displays some lag when you want to get going in a hurry. When you don’t, however, it’s smooth and unobtrusive, and you’ll never notice it working away.
  • The new A4 laughs in the face of Indian roads. It just cruises silently and smoothly over everything, with a ride quality that’s truly remarkable.
  • With the latest tech, the best refinement, and a superb cabin altogether, it pushes all the right luxury buttons, and that’s why it’s our winner.


Verdict

Refined. comfortable and packed with the latest tech.

First Drive

Strong and refined diesel makes new A4 a more complete package

Quietest in the class
The last-gen A4’s diesel was the quietest in the class and the new engine keeps the flag flying high by keeping decibel levels low. There is a mild grumble at low revs and you can hear the engine when you floor the accelerator, but it’s never loud or harsh. Performance is also really impressive.

Peppy and light
...but the A4 diesel feels peppy and light at all times and that’s what makes it very likeable. It’s alert at low revs, comes into its element at 2,000rpm and revs happily to 4,700rpm, at which point the electronics step in with an upshift. As expected, the dual-clutch gearbox is quick to shift gears and responds well to manual inputs at the paddle shifters and the chunky gear lever.

Maintain the calm
The driving modes don’t alter the A4’s suspension characteristics but the stock setup is rather nice as is, with excellent bump absorption being the highlight. That the suspension does its work quietly is also something that helps maintain the calm in the cabin.

Cutting edge
It’s a very modern Audi cabin that scores big for its material quality and ambience. Audi’s brilliant ‘Virtual Cockpit’ digital instruments, MMI infotainment system and the haptic buttons for the air con, that preview the function as you run your finger on them, make the cabin look and feel cutting edge. Front seat comfort is good and passengers in the back also get plenty of room to sit comfortably. The all-important rear seat is also well-padded.

Fuel efficient too
The diesel engine is strong, refined and, with an ARAI-tested fuel economy of 18.25kpl, promises to be fuel efficient too. In fact, the diesel engine immediately makes the new A4 feel more complete and elevates it in terms of desirability. And that’s not all. Audi has also rewarded buyer’s patience by giving the A4 35 TDI a competitive price tag.

Good feeling
...you always get a good feeling of control at the helm and handling is always safe and predictable.

Sophisticated package

Pull away from rest in an A4 and it’s possible you’d mistake it for a petrol, the diesel is so silent and refined. If not for the air con’s fan speed, there’s an eerie silence inside the cabin. Even as one begins to spin the motor faster, there’s no more than a purr. This 190hp 2.0-litre diesel plant, however, bunches up all the power in the mid range. What’s really amazing is the way in which it masks the speed and before you can realise, you’re going silly fast.

What makes the driving nicer is Audi’s seven-speed double-clutch gearbox which is brilliant with quick and seamless shifts, making sure the car always remains in the right gear at the right speed.

Out of the two, the A4 also has a more absorbent ride. Potholes and uneven roads are dealt with well and the suspension does a great job of ironing these out quietly.

The A4’s cabin, like its exterior, is all understated and elegant. The black dashboard with a classy wooden trim, Virtual Cockpit (instrument cluster display), Q7-like continuous air-vent strip, multimedia screen, frameless mirror and the digital climate control display are chic. Certain buttons, like those for the climate control and memory, on the gear console have haptic sensors that add to the car’s feel-good factor. The quality of bits and materials is top-notch and fit and finish is great too.

The front seats are nice and comfortable and so is the seating at the rear. In fact, the A4 has the more supportive rear seat of the two. While the backrest is a tad too upright, it doesn’t fall short on room for knees or the head.

The A4 is available in two variants – Premium Plus and the better-equipped Technology – with major differentiators like the addition of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, navigation with a touchpad, wireless mobile charging and driver seat memory available in the latter. Features like 17-inch wheels, LED headlamps with daytime running lights, part-leather upholstery, electric sunroof, three-zone climate control, electric handbrake with auto hold and eight airbags are available as standard.

The Audi A4 is the smoother and more comfortable car with high-quality interiors and a long list of features. It gets a powerful diesel engine and a superb automatic gearbox.

With a more supportive back seat, superb refinement and easy-to-drive character, the car strikes a fine balance between a luxurious chauffeur-driven sedan and a relaxing self-driven mile-muncher
for weekend getaways.

Verdict

Comfy car with great interiors and superb refinement

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