Audi A4 2.0 TDI: best executive all-around
Audi’s newest and latest A4 executive express, launched a few months ago, is making waves in the local market. It proudly and boldly differs from its rivals who seek to provide the best, sharpest and most scintillating driving experience.
No, the A4 choses its own path confidently, and might I add, wisely, given the traffic and congestion we face everyday, not just in the Philippines, but the rest of the world.
What is that path? We’ll get to that shortly.
First, the looks. Audi’s Russian Doll design theme makes identifying the current Audi range (A4, A6 and A8 sedans) quite difficult. But the design is clean, handsome, well-chiseled and unique, so no issues there.
However, Audi outdid itself underneath the skin where the brand’s modular MQB chassis architecture is.
Thanks to extensive R&D on the usage of light alloy materials, depending on the variant, the latest A4 is up to 100 kg lighter than its predecessor.
Mated to the new, lightweight chassis is Audi’s ever-popular 2.0 TDI diesel engine, delivering 150 hp and 320 Newton meters of torque through the front wheels exclusively via a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission which in Audi-speak is dubbed S-Tronic.
Interestingly, the latest S-Tronic is the smoothest yet, behaving much like a torque converter-equipped automatic, which makes progress smooth and steady, even at low-speed traffic crawls.
Inside, you get a luxurious, roomy and spacious interior that is clean, functional, well-thought out and classy.
Black leather covers everything, with aluminium panels acting as space-age accents. The overall ambiance is, thus, a bit edgy but universally handsome.
The rear seats are impressively roomy, and you get a 3-zone climate control system to really keep things cool.
Audi’s 12.3-inch LCD virtual cockpit also makes an appearance, giving a very high-tech cabin, alongside the latest iteration of Audi’s multi-media interface (MMI) system.
There’s also another large LCD screen to display the MMI’s various menus and settings for the audio system, fuel trip computer, drive mode, and of course, navigation system.
Audi Drive Select is also present, delivering comfort, normal and dynamic driving modes, plus a customized setting that lets you mix and match engine power, transmission, and steering.
On the open road, the A4 rides like a dream: cosseting, luxurious, refined and isolated from the outside world. If you’ve ever slogged through a five-hour (or more) traffic jam, you will really appreciate this level of comfort.
Behind the wheel, the steering is light even in dynamic mode. The brakes are a bit over-assisted, but the suspension is pliant and composed at all times, soaking up all the bumps and imperfections of our provincial highways. This is despite the A4 riding on high-performance 18 x 8-inch wheels shod with Bridgestone S001 high-performance rubber measuring 245/40R18.
Body roll is much more noticeable versus rivals from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus, but if you’re the type that uses roll to judge how much grip your have, you won’t have a problem driving the wheels of the A4 on winding roads, as I did on a spirited drive up and down Tagaytay.
The A4 loads up its corners well, allowing you to accurately gauge weight transfer and helping you to determine the amount of steering lock, throttle and brake effort as you attack the corners.
Switching from comfort to dynamic mode, the engine and transmission really wake up, become more urgent and responsive, with the gears holding on longer at higher revs.
Of course, the paddle shifters provide more interaction should you want to feel like a race car driver barreling down the infamous Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans.
In the city, the A4 is super smooth and relaxing to drive, making it the perfect car to slog through traffic in absolute comfort and luxury with Teutonic efficiency matched with minimal, clean yet tasteful design and flair.
Efficiency is also otherworldly. Driving down from Tagaytay late at night, the fuel counter recorded an astounding 42 kilometers per liter on the winding roads.
On the highway, on a newish, tight engine, I recorded a best 20.7 kilometers per liter cruising between 90-110 km/h, while in-city driving still delivered a mind-blowing 10.7-11.5 kilometers per liter in moderate to heavy traffic.
Truly, if all cars were as efficient as this, the internal combustion engine era will remain with us longer. No wonder Audi is considered to be the most successful and most dominant modern Le Mans team, thanks to amazing efficiency coupled with great speed.
Of course, no luxury car worth its salt in the 21st century would be worth considering unless it had a battery of safety equipment. The A4 impresses with six airbags, traction-stability control, plus ABS-EBD brakes with brake assist.
In case you haven’t noticed, the A4 projects an image of high-tech, state-of-the-art efficiency and comfort.
It’s still a great car to drive, but rather than focusing on delivering the best driving pleasure ever (something which can get tiresome when you’re just not in the mood), the A4 delivers a large dose of functionality, usability and versatility.
It doesn’t deliver the absolute best in dynamic driving compared to other rivals, but it does just about everything else excellently.
You can drive the A4 and enjoy it, appreciate it, and relish in its abilities more often than its rivals. That’s not something its “sportier” rivals can ever deliver.