Update Diary 2021 A4 Review – SUVs are all the rage, but Audi thinks the A4 still has its place. The updated sports executive sedan arrived in SA in late 2020, and we had a thorough assessment of the newcomer. Can the facelifted A4 rival BMW’s 3-series and Mercedes-Benz’s C-class? Should you buy a comparable crossover/SUV?
Those who bought the A4 shortly before the release of the facelift version will not feel that they are getting old.
Update Diary 2021 A4 Review
The B9 generation of the Audi A4 has been updated, but the changes included in the makeover are not dramatic. From the front, you can distinguish the new car from its predecessor by the new look of the single-frame radiator grille, flanked by slightly redesigned daytime running lights. At the back, the A4’s taillights have a new LED signature, but the biggest updates are in the cabin, even if they look simple.
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This generation of A4 represents Audi Connect’s entry into the SA market (the sedan comes with a data SIM card and wireless support). Also installed is a new MMI touchscreen and the latest iteration of the 12.3-inch virtual cockpit. The engine lineup gets mild hybrid technology, which Audi says improves fuel economy, of course. Speaking of engines, the A4 range has 3 petrol engines, with a turbo diesel option coming in 2021. The subject of this review is the advanced 35 TFSI series, but there is also a 40 TFSI variant. If you want muscular performance, Audi South Africa also offers the S4.
With these subtle changes, does the Audi A4 stand out enough and is it worth considering if you’re looking for a sports sedan?
The driving modes make the A4 a bit more interesting to drive, but we think this Audi is more about comfort and elegance.
The 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo petrol engine 35 TFSI is a proven quantity – it has been used in many models of the VW Group. However, this layout includes 12V hybrid technology, which causes the engine to slow down when driving towards intersections, for example. Does it really optimize Audi’s fuel consumption? Well, to be clear… Audi quotes an average of 6.1L/100km, we thought that was over-optimistic for a mid-size petrol sedan, but our “mid-8s” expectations were happily dashed when the test unit delivered 7.5. L/100 km (and we haven’t even adopted a frugal driving style).
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The smart software politely asks us to lift off the gas pedal (by displaying a small green icon on the instrument panel) when the navigation system detects a roundabout ahead. The system encourages the user to use the release technique instead of overusing the brake pedal. Now you’re probably wondering how the car handles when you’re in a hurry (you don’t want to save polar bears)…
You see, the 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine combines economy and eager performance in a cost-effective package. Power outputs of 110kW and 270Nm are good, but if you think that’s not enough, you can opt for the 140kW/320Nm 40 TFSI! Dual-clutch automatic transmissions are standard across the range, which is a plus; they move quickly and without haste. In fact, there will be times when the transitions will be barely noticeable. Sure, the powertrain might stall a bit in traffic when 1st gear is idle, but you can compensate by being softer on the throttle. Once you spin, progression is “smooth as silk”.
Despite being the least powerful derivative in the facelift range, the advanced 35 TFSI series can still provide a decent turn of gear when needed, thanks to the aforementioned quick shifting and responsive gearbox (speaking of excellent software/calibration). as well as the different Audi Dynamic Select driving modes. If you select dynamic mode, throttle response becomes significantly sharper, instantly making the driving experience more immediate. When tasked with enthusiastic cornering, the Audi A4 performs competently, but falls short of the 3 Series in terms of driving excitement.
If you look beyond performance (as you probably should for the entry-level A4 sedan – its target market is… conservative), the Audi really excels in ride comfort and refinement. Few people in his class are this quiet and relaxed. In fact, you can easily cover several hundred kilometers and arrive at your destination still fresh. You can feel the heavy focus on noise dampening – the cabin allows only the mildest of roars. Our Audi used 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 245/40 Pirelli rubber; The company has clearly prioritized pure comfort and relaxation over driving pleasure and excitement.
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That’s right, our test unit came with optional sports seats (part of the optional Sport package – for an extra R9k) which were supportive (as expected)
The A4 is based on the MLB platform, which lends itself to supreme thinness and generous cabin space. The legroom in the back is sufficient, but at least the trunk is spacious. Audi claims a massive 460-litre capacity, with up to 960 liters of useful space if you fold down the rear seats. Surprisingly, the A4’s boot capacity is around 20 liters less than that of its main rivals, but that’s certainly not a problem.
The front cabin has a handful of handy storage compartments, and while Audi’s smartphone pouch costs an extra Rs 6,200, it’s a worthwhile option as it includes wireless charging and you can store your phone safely outside, thanks to Android Auto/Apple Carplay convenience. On the horizon. Moreover, practical storage solutions are located in front of the shift lever (ideal for wallet or keys).
Audi cabins are (still) the undisputed market benchmark in terms of quality, user experience and design excellence. They don’t just look at the piece; it is easy to use. Audi’s virtual cockpit continues to be a master class in terms of visual performance and ease of use. Not only does it look like it’s straight out of a car from the future, but it’s incredibly easy to use and explore. To reiterate, the A4 comes with Apple Car and Android Auto, and the interface menus look great on the high-resolution center screen. If you don’t want to go the smartphone mirroring route, the native Audi OS (first seen on the Audi Q8) has a tablet-like look and feel, and works like a charm, too. Our only gripe is that smudged fingerprints are visible on the MMI screen – best to have a touchpad cleaning cloth handy!
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The Audi A4 35 TFSI Advanced range is priced at R663 000, but the test unit was fully optioned, pushing the price to R300856. The vehicle is sold with the Audi Highway plan for 5 years/100,000 km.
While the Audi A4 has a few shortcomings, particularly in terms of cabin performance and improved driving experience, some will no doubt question its relevance in a market that has drifted away from sedans… Given Audi’s incredibly diverse portfolio, is there still a need? A4? Market trends show that crossover/SUV vehicles are and will continue to be in fashion. Worse, if you’re considering an Audi sedan, the A3 4-door offers comparable space and features for less money. Also, the new A3 will debut in Mzansi this year, so the refreshed A4 could soon have some new competition in its ranks.
Should you buy one? If your heart is A4, it is unlikely that you will be disappointed with your purchase. It may lack the enthusiasm of the BMW 3 Series, but its interior quality and refinement is no match for the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. To be fair to the Three-Pointed Star, an all-new model will be introduced in 2021. Given the freshness of BMW and Audi, we think Benz dealers are dying for the arrival of this model.
The revised A4 is unlikely to sell much, as we’re guessing many potential buyers of the sedan from Ingolstadt might be inclined to gravitate towards the brand’s generously designed (and highly rated) Q3 premium family car. However, Audi’s mid-size sedan is the perfect interpretation of a luxury sedan car that’s focused on comfort and packed with technology.
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Contributing to numerous motoring titles as well as helping to run the public relations machine of the Johannesburg International Motor Show, Dave has experience on both sides of the motoring industry. He lives in the Western Cape and has done a lot of driving and photography… still trying to remember everything.
DJ Speedsta owns how he learned to drive and the craziest car ever1 minute read October 2, 2022 no longer supports older versions of your web browser to keep user data safe. Update to the latest version.
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