Audi A4 3.0 TDI6 min read . Updated: 04 Jan 2013, 01:09 PM IST Audi started with a clean slate, pouring innovation, surprise and delight into the process of creating the new A4.
The new A4 is not a typically cold and clinical Audi
Audi started with a clean slate, pouring innovation, surprise and delight into the process of creating the new A4. Look at the distinctive 'string-of-pearls' LED headlight that Audi has plucked from its R8 sports car and you get some sense of how hard it has tried.
The new A4 is also larger and has a more grown-up look. And its 2.8-metre wheelbase is easily the longest.
However, apart from the head and tail-lights, there's nothing radical about the A4's styling; most of the design clues an evolution of tried-and-tested Audi standards. Still, as on every modern Audi, the design language is very clear and works well. The bonnet and shoulder line swoop down to the 'Bulgarian beard' grille, there is a quarter-glass in the 'C' pillar at the rear and the broadset shoulder line give the flanks the look of an A6.
The A4 is built on Audi's new Modular Longitudinal Platform (MLP) and uses a lot of aluminium in the front suspension. The steering rack is placed low and forward, in close proximity to the front wheels. The rear suspension design allows for sporty and short springs and the dampers are tall for luxury car-like travel. All the dampers are adjustable for either a pliant ride or harder dynamic setting. And Audi has specified massive discs at both the front and the rear. The latest quattro or four- wheel-drive system has rear-biased split for more neutral handling and less understeer.
A glance is all you need to tell that the interiors belong on an Audi. The cabin delivers the impression that you are seated in an expensive, well-designed cockpit, things come to hand easily and the general fit is good. There are plenty of stowage areas tucked nicely around the front of the cabin. There is no handbrake lever — it's electronic and functions via a button marked 'P', and this opens up some space for oddment enclosures.
This version is also equipped with a keyless go and a clear-sounding Bang&Olufsen sound system that has 10 channels and 14 speakers, including the subwoofer. Traffic jam concerts could alleviate some of the hassle of a city commute. Despite these features, the interiors are a bit disappointing since they aren't an advancement like the rest of the car. Closer inspection also reveals that the quality of a few plastics on the central console is not upto Audi's usually exceptional standards.
With the longest wheelbase in the class and the most width too, the new A4 offers occupants a bigger cabin. The front seats are large and very comfortable and you can find the perfect driving position as everything is adjustable. The rear seats are fantastic too, offering loads of space and has that airy feeling.
Performance & Economy
The lively, alert and enthusiastic performance from the 265bhp FSI direct petrol injection motor is a riot. Tap the throttle and the Audi quattro vaults off the block, the thrust immediate, very strong and deeply gratifying. The power delivered is explosive, and even short bursts of acceleration are addictive. You are always on the lookout for gaps in traffic so that you can exploit all those horses and the A4's always up for some sport, whatever the engine speed. And there's a nice sporty note to it too.
The gearshift paddles behind the steering wheel are a treat to use due to the speed of the 'box and as ever you can use the six-speed auto 'box in manual mode, gears shifting up only after hitting the redline. Flat-out performance is lightning quick with 100 taking 8.05 seconds and 150, 16.36 seconds. These figures may be faster to a 100kph than the BMW 325i by only a second, but the difference in real world thrust is much more. Then, in-gear acceleration is very strong despite having tall gearing. On the right road or track, this car will go up and sit on its 250kph limiter, without working up a sweat.
Hit the 'dynamic' button below the gearbox and the Audi goes completely ballistic. Performance is now more V8 than V6, as the car changes the way it applies its electronic throttle. Ask for 40 percent with your right foot and the electronic throttle delivers 80, shooting you down the road like a cannon. This is grin-inducing stuff and should be introduced as an alternative to Prozac. And though this doesn't improve flat- out performance figures, half-throttle is the way we really drive and here, it's exceptional.
This motor may be a more efficient direct injection gasoline unit, but the low octane rating on our fuel negates this advantages. The A4's compression of 12.5:1, high even for a more tolerant direct injection motor, means it continuously has to retard its ignition to protect itself from knocking. This means fuel is not being efficiently burned. We got 5.0 and 7.3 kilometres per litre in city and highway conditions respectively; poor figures, but using 97 octane will help.
Ride & Handling
With 265bhp to put down and handle, there's no scope for messing around. The A4 gets a hi-tech suspension, fat rubber and most important, the Quattro system. Grip is phenomenal, dry or wet, and it is possible to make full use of all that power, both in a straight line as well as on a winding road. The A4 3.2 is a ferociously quick point A to point B tool.
For a start, straightline stability is rock solid, even at speeds close to 200kph on the track. And the massive stopping power of those big discs is very comforting — especially on our roads where you need to pounce on the anchors often. And because you can bleed speed very fast and as the A4 corners relatively flat, you can carry massive speed into corners. And then, despite the speed, the quattro system allows you to chuck even more power down to the road as you apex and exit the corner. The electric steering gets heavier and weighs up as you approach triple-digit speeds, and steering ratio is tightened too. But the steering feels rubbery and there isn't any real communication between the car and your fingers, especially as you unwind steering lock. And despite the rear-biased 40:60 torque spilt, push the A4 too quick into a corner and it will want to carry on straight and understeer, so you have to be aggressive with the steering just when you don't want to be.
The new A4 is not a typically cold and clinical Audi. Dynamic, exciting and designed to appeal to a younger customer, it is a car you will want more than need. The headlights make the car stand out, it looks larger than its rivals and space and comfort are better too. The 265bhp motor gives it incredible pace, the quattro system provides leech-like grip and Audi's 'dynamic drive' allows you to optimise it for a relaxed and comfy ride or some serious fun. Comfort in the rear may be only marginally better that its rivals, fuel economy may be far from practical, ground clearance close to dismal and the car is expensive too. So, this is not the most practical petrol compact exec. But it's just so much fun, you tend to forget its shortcomings. The king of good times.
What it costs
Ex-showroom (Delhi) 34.15-46.9 lakh
Warranty 2 years /unlimited kms
Installation Front, longitudinal
Bore/stroke 85.5 x 92.8mm
Compression ratio 12.5:1
Valve gear DOHC, 4 valves per cyl
Power 265bhp at 6500rpm
Torque 33.60kgm at 3000-5000rpm
Power to weight 164.59bhp per tonne
Gearbox 6-speed automatic
Length 4703 mm
Height 1427 mm
Chassis & Body
Tyres 245/40 R 18
Front Independent, upper and lower wish-bone, tubular anti-roll bar
Rear Independent, trapezoidal-link, anti-roll bar
Type Rack and pinion, power assisted
Type of power assist Electric
Front Ventilated discs
Rear Solid discs
City 5.0 kpl
Highway 7.3 kpl
Tank size 70 litres
Range at a glance - Engines
Petrol 1.8,2.0,3.2 litre