Audi A4 long term review, first report

    This all-new Audi sedan makes a good first impression during our nocturnal long drive, with its powerful headlights and smooth ride quality.

    Published on Mar 06, 2022 09:00:00 AM


    Make : Audi
    Model : A4

    The difference between driving in the day and at night is, well, day and night. I’ve discovered a new window for my ritualistic drives to Mahabaleshwar which is entirely at night. A night drive beats getting up at the crack of dawn (which I hate) and the later it gets, the emptier the roads. Yes, truck traffic is still thick at night, but after around 11pm, truckers too peel off for a good night’s sleep. And that’s actually the sensible thing to do! But the temptation of driving up the last 40km of a completely deserted ghat road is too irresistible to choose a more sensible time to travel. Besides, I find driving the hills safer at night because an oncoming car’s headlights make blind corners not so blind.

    BUTTON UP: Physical buttons are easy and intuitive to use.

    That doesn’t take away from the statistically proven fact that driving at night is much more dangerous than driving in the day and the chances of having an accident are twice as high. But, if you compensate for the danger element with defensive driving and a safe car, night driving is not as deadly as one would think. That’s the cue for our long-term Audi A4 to make a grand entrance.

    The A4 has been my nocturnal buddy for the past two Mahabaleshwar trips because of the way it takes the stress out of night driving. The A4’s full-LED headlights play a key role in putting me at ease. The broad and powerful high beam has a deep throw that picks up unlit bicycles, trucks without tail-lights and even the retinas of straying cows from afar. It’s these unilluminated hazards that makes night driving in India so treacherous, and that’s why a good pair of headlights like the A4’s is the most important safety feature. It’s just not the headlights, the cabin lighting is also easy on the eye and the intuitive feel of all the controls keeps you focused on nothing else but the road ahead.

    SHINING NIGHT: Strong headlights take the stress out of night driving.

    Touchscreens are a way of life in cars that we’ve come to accept, if not love. You don’t think twice before prodding or swiping a touchscreen and the A4’s infotainment system works quite responsively. But after the sun goes down, you truly appreciate the row of physical buttons for the air con and how good it feels to rotate a well-crafted knob with satisfying clicks. Two things that you tend to constantly adjust is the air con and the music volume, and the A4 has hard buttons for both these functions (plus, of course, the volume button on the steering wheel). At night, when you have to concentrate hard and not take your eyes off the road, you appreciate the intuitive feel they give.

    The A4 offers more than just great lighting to keep me relaxed at night. A driver’s seat that gently grips you, a spot-on seating position that gives you good view of the road without any obstruction from the instrument panel or the A-pillars and an efficient washer and wiper unit that keeps the windscreen crystal clear, all add up to what I would call a great ‘night driving package’. Have I inadvertently coined a new marketing term?!

    SPOKE IN THE WHEEL: Alloys look lacklustre on sharp-suited A4.

    Night is also when you can actually have fun driving up the Wai ghat, a 11km twisty road from Wai to Panchgani that is quite well surfaced and reasonably wide enough to let you enjoy ‘straight lining’ the squiggly bit at the start. However, the empty, twisty ghat also shows the rather unsporting side of the A4. It’s a bit nose-heavy and understeery when you push hard and the 2.0-litre TSI engine’s power delivery isn’t what I would call explosive. I default to the nicely crafted paddles to stay in the meat of the powerband, which makes for a more fulfilling if not exhilarating driving experience.

    Satisfying, relaxing and comfortable. These are the words that spring to mind after spending long hours in the A4. It is a supremely refined sedan that doesn’t ask much of the driver and can transform what could be a harrowing journey into an easy one. The standout feature, if I had to pick one, is the ride quality. No other sedan in this class rides as smoothly as the A4. It’s not too soft like the Superb in our long-term fleet and neither do sharp edges thwack through, like in the – dare I say it – C-Class. There’s a soaky, well-rounded edge to the A4’s suspension, which doesn’t come at the cost of body control. Few cars ride as well in the city as they do on the highway and quite frankly, the A4 sets a new benchmark for ride quality.

    STRAIGHT BACK: Upright seat back compromises rear-seat comfort.

    Fuel efficiency was better than I expected. A figure of 11.6kpl on a long, hard drive to Mahabaleshwar is much better than what I get from other VW Group cars with the same 2.0-litre TSI engine on the same route. I suspect the A4’s efficiency is helped by the 95 octane diet that I switched to and is, in fact, recommended. The higher octane fuel is more expensive, but it keeps the engine running optimally.

    Niggles? A big one is the back seat, which is nowhere near as comfortable as the front. Sure, compact luxury sedans are not meant to be high on space, but for me the issue is more to do with the seat back design, which is too upright by a few centimetres. I also didn’t like the rather boring design of the five-spoke alloys, which don’t look like they belong to 2022. Having said that, the very pleasant sedan has been a great way to start a new year of motoring.

    Fact FilePetrol AT
    Distance covered11,615km
    Price when newRs 47.61 lakh (ex-showroom)
    Test economy10.59kpl (overall, this month)
    Maintenance costsNone

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