Price: Rs 30,20,000
Good: The refreshed A4 looks smarter than ever and the slightly understated design somewhat suits A4's restrained character. Underneath, the new A4 is more efficient than before - making it a worthy buy, yet again. The 3-litre TDI engine offers sportscar levels of performance without having to sacrifice much on the economy front.
Bad: The A4 never was and it still isn't the best in its class when it comes to performance and handling. Rivals like the BMW 3-Series still offer a much more thrilling experience behind the wheel.
On a Monday morning when I should have been enjoying a post lunch siesta, I found myself sitting in front of a 13.3-inch LCD screen and a brilliant keyboard trying hard to turn my thoughts into electric signals, which in turn could be displayed on the website you're currently browsing.
Probably it was the key fob of the facelift Audi A4 that kept me from dozing off. The idea of being in an Audi is something special, especially when it's your first time! Having driven it on the winding roads of Lonavala came as a bonus. Read on to find out how it felt, but first the design.
Not entirely different from the pre-facelift A4 (codename B8), the new A4 definitely looks the way an Audi should; Daytime running lights, trademark Audi grille and the familiar silhouette. On the front, the new design headlamps make it look less intimidating but more pleasing than the car it replaces. The car we tested, the S-Line variant, does look sportier indeed than the regular A4 and that's probably the reason why, even in the company of an S4, 'my' A4 didn't look bad in comparison.
The LED taillamps look better when lit, otherwise it's a rather drab rear, a bit uninteresting. The alloys look good and on the whole, the A4 too. But you may ask. is just being 'good' good enough to be in the segment. Well, I could have answered that with a lot of confidence if BMW still had the previous generation 3-series on sale.
You see most of the cars in this segment have a big problem, they look just about OK. Neither great nor too bad. It would take a real game changer to set the trend but at present, among the current cars, the A4 does a good job.
Although I don't want to sound harsh but the A4 hasn't been as impressive as I though it would be. It has been great on the inside, but it's still not a looker. And now, with my hands resting on the steering, the gearshift slotted in 'D' and my mind anticipating the drive. It's FWD (front wheel drive), is powered by a 2-litre diesel engine (144PS of power and 320Nm of torque) and comes with a CVT gearbox. Now that's not the best recipe for a driver-oriented car, or is it?
Let's start with the positives first. Being a diesel, it does a good job at returning a fuel economy that will keep your fuel expenses in check. Also, since it's a CVT the way it picks up speed is very impressive, not in a 'push your neck into the seat' way but in a very comforting and smooth manner. The ride and handling, unfortunately cannot be altered but it's not stiff, which keeps the passengers happy, as long as you are not taking chicanes at a very high speed. Talking about high speeds, it gets stability control, anti-lock braking system and airbags to keep you safe in case of an accident.
From an enthusiast's perspective, the car makes a good impression at first. The driving position is good and so is the view all around. Picking up speed is not exactly a problem, given that the engine is adequately powerful for a midsize executive sedan. Give it some beans and it will surge forward. That's what I did and then the first corner arrived and the car turned peacefully, with no drama at all and no feedback from the steering. It's almost muted. The A4 is a very capable cruiser but even with the lack of the Quattro all-wheel-drive system, it's not exactly boring. In fact, it did cope up with the slight challenge the heavy rain and winding roads of Lonavala threw at it. The 17-inch wheels not just keep the car stable at double digit speeds but make changing lanes an easy job. The lack of weight in the steering help make it a more nimble car though.
Braking is impressive and so is the overall composure of the vehicle. Quattro and probably a more powerful engine would have made it much more desirable than what it currently is. On the whole, the A4 is a nice car. It might not look as good as the other Audis but it still manages to set a balance between fun and practicality. Driving something from this German carmaker is something very special, I just hope it had a bit more character to it.
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