The new-generation of Audi’s best-selling luxury sedan may look similar to its predecessor, but it’s all new and better in almost every way.
What is it?
It’s no wonder the Audi A4 is the brand’s best-selling sedan, and often its best-selling model full stop (it jostles with the Q3 for that top spot). Yes, the A3 is now the entry point to the ‘Four Rings’ club, but really it’s the size and positioning of the A4 that makes it a more enticing proposition for many, especially the chauffeur driven.
In recent years, the outgoing car was outclassed in most areas by its rivals, and this new one makes amends in all the right places. Sure, it may not look too different and this might be a deterrent for some, but spend a little time and you’ll see the changes. It’s visually a lot wider, something that’s enhanced by the larger, protruding, more ‘textured’ grille and new headlamps that look aggressive like a pair of fangs. The lines are a lot more pronounced, especially down the sides, where you’ll also find a subtle indent at the base of the doors. There’s a lot of Audi TT in the look, and you’ll agree, that’s no bad thing. The rear is similar too, with only the new multi-layered LED tail-lamps (and their ‘swiping’ indicators) setting it apart. Under this familiar skin sits Audi’s new MLB Evo architecture that underpins, in different forms, the Q7, the upcoming A8 and even the Bentley Bentayga.
The big news here is weight reduction, and this ‘B9’ A4 tips the scales a whole 95kg lighter than the old B8. Of course, the car comes with Audi’s latest suite of tech, but more significantly, it’s being launched with just a petrol engine for now, and the motor in question is a rather interesting one. More on that later.
What’s it like on the inside?
The outside may remind you of the old A4, but the interior resembles the new Q7, which is really impressive. The dash flows a lot better now, especially compared to the old, upright one from the last generation. There’s a choice of beige-and-black or all-black leather upholstery, the standing MMI screen (though it doesn’t fold away) is very well integrated, and yes, there’s even Audi’s fancy Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster. Material quality, as ever with Audi, is just superb, and a small but consequential thing to note is the use of thick, rich-feeling slabs of wood on the dash and doors that really make this cabin feel plush. Other nice bits? Sure. The wing mirrors, mounted on the doors rather than the pillars, seem small but offer a wide enough field of view. The haptic buttons that ‘preview’ their function when you run your finger over them are stylistic, and a cool touch. The frameless inside rear-view mirror and the wireless charging pad for Qi-compatible phones. And then there is the key’s memory function that remembers not just your seat and mirror positions, but your AC, Drive Select mode and media preferences as well.
The front seats are much better contoured than the previous A4’s and are more comfy over long distances as a result. Moreover, it’s really easy getting comfortable behind the wheel thanks to a great driving position and good all-round visibility. The big change is at the back, where Audi has managed to liberate a lot of room. BMW’s tactic of moving the seat lower and further back seems to have been employed here, and if you don’t mind the slightly more cumbersome ingress that results, the effect is tremendous. There’s quite a lot of legroom and headroom in here, but we’d still say the back seat is best for two, width wise.