According to Buddha, the ‘Middle Way’ is the path between extremes and leads to wisdom. Now I’m no monk who can actually explain it in details about the middle path, but this practice certainly has paid dividends for Audi. Please give me a minute to enlighten you. In the sports saloon category, the BMW 3 Series has always been an enthusiast’s delight, while Mercedes-Benz has been known as the mark of success for the traditional minded, but Audi decided to take a step further and merge the best qualities of the two and this resulted in the A4. It has been Audi’s best selling sedan in India since it made its debut in 2008 and later became the segment leader. But as we all know it, all good things must come to an end as change is inevitable and constant. Therefore, Audi is now all set to reclaim its throne, but this time around Ingolstadt has decided to put its clean foot forward, and by that we mean, the 1.4-litre petrol version. We decided to decode this engine on the coastal road of Konark, Odisha, running parallel to the Bay of Bengal.
One has to admit, the new A4 looks all grown up and in literal sense mind you. It is now longer, wider and wait for it, 95 kilograms lighter than the outgoing model. No doubt, the new A4 gets subtle changes like the 3D-like protruding grille, the gorgeous twin DRLs in the headlamp cluster and with a prominent line running across both the boot and bumper, Audi has tried to add some character to it. The A4 certainly looks refreshed, but it doesn’t really make a sweeping statement. In a market like India where people love the attention, this sedan could be easily mistaken as the older one. I guess Audi wanted to retain the A4’s design DNA after all if its not broken, why fix it?
The real treat is the cabin. Audi stated that only India gets authentic wooden panels on the dashboard and doors. And we agree it certainly adds a touch of class to it. The dual tone, black-beige, cabin has an air of premiumness, while the clean and simple layout of the centre console with metal finished buttons are signs of Audi going straight for the kill. The leather seats are very comfortable and leaps and bounds ahead of the old A4, while the seat squabs provide ample space and support. Traditionally, sedans in this segment lack rear passenger legroom, but the new A4 is spacious in the rear as its length is increased to 4.7 metre. So the good news is that now one doesn’t feel packed like canned sardines. To ensure a comfortable drive, it’s better if only two adults park themselves at the back seat.
As our world revolves around our gadgets and how to charge our gizmos is always lurking in the back of our minds. And also no one really likes getting entangled with numerous charging wires. Audi has a simple solution, why not go wireless? It offers Qi wireless charging phone box neatly tucked away inside the arm rest. Place your phone in it and it charges on its own.
What is a stand out feature that we can’t get over is the 12.3-inch virtual instrument cluster. This is just like the one in Audi TT, which doubles up as a navigation device and reads out all infotainment data. As expected, the MMI is updated and rotary dial gets a responsive touchpad. No doubt the A4’s cabin really does make you feel special.
If you simply go by face value, then the 1,395cc can sound a bit disappointing with power figures of 148bhp and 250Nm of torque compared to the outgoing 1.8-litre’s figures– 168bhp at 320Nm of torque. But would you believe that the new A4 is just 0.3 seconds slower? It manages this because its lighter and is mated with a new 7-speed dual-clutch transmission replacing the CVT in the previous generation. Therefore, it manages to do 0-100km in 8.5 seconds. Nudge the accelerator and the 1.4-litre responds in a refined manner without any strains. Once on the move, you can actually feel the lightness of the car. Getting our way around Bhubaneswar roads was effortless as the transmission would smoothly upshift and provide ample power. It’s a well mannered engine and when pushed it redlines in the region of 6,500rpm. But be warned, the A4 feels strained and doesn’t like being pushed around. Sure it will speed past the three-digit mark in a jiffy, but it starts to run out of juice once it passes the mid-range of the engine’s power band. Keeping in mind that fuel efficiency is the what Audi is focusing on, according to ARAI figures, it will return 17.84km/l.
When it comes to ride quality, the A4 carpets whatever the roads could throw at it. It felt like the sedan was especially made for India. It’s a massive improvement over the older model. For a front-wheel drive saloon, it behaved well in a few corners we came across. We’ll have to do a road test to find out how it actually behaves in turns, but in city it stayed on course and didn’t create any hairy situations. At high speeds, the A4 stayed planted and never made us feel nervous.
One has to give credit to Audi for ironing out most of the issues the previous generation had. Sure it might look very similar to the model its replacing, but the cabin is one special place to be in. It also now has more rear space, which will be big boon for those who are chauffeur driven. The infotainment is updated and now comes with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The 1.4-litre is a gem if you only need to commute from point A to B in the city, which most do. But if you are looking to have some fun and want to push the car around, then we suggest you wait for the more powerful diesel or maybe even another petrol option.