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It's tired- the debate- which German compact sedan is the best? The truth is that all three cars, the Audi A4, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the BMW 3-Series are all outstanding. In fact, so is the Lexus IS and Volvo S60. Most buyers purchase the brand they know and will continue to do so. New buyers to the segment, arguably Millennials, are less loyal to a brand and therefore open to purchasing persuasion. Now, more than ever customers interested in status are asking the question, "What does this car say about my image". Brand perception is, therefore, key. Another contributing factor in choosing a new car is value for money. These days that's harder than ever for manufacturers to get right - our currency is weaker than a pregnant ladies bladder and we're paying 25% more than we should for most new cars.
Audi, the brand built on Bauhaus design offering understated cars with an elegant edge has an all-new A4. Like the A4's before it, it's a vast step forward from its predecessor and now arguably the benchmark within its class.
90% new, or there about, the A4 is a more refined version of itself. Oozing confidence, it's been beautifully made - tailored even - as it is very well thought out. The emphasis of the A4, from a creation perspective, has been placed on creating the best quality car Audi could make. The cars chassis is new. Feeling light, incredibly ridged, reassuring and very modern. The engines, currently a 1.4 and 2.0 TFSI are both quick, refined, free-revving and efficient. Audi offers a light slick-shifting 6-manual and an effortless razor sharp 7-speed double-clutch automatic for fast seamless gear changes called, S tronic. Together, these three elements make for a new age in executive transportation. The A4 can best be described as tautly fluid. Almost perfected. Almost- a front wheel driven car, until the Quattro versions arrive, Audi's highly advanced 2.0 TFSI (140 kW / 320 Nm) engine is just that prodigious during full acceleration, causing front wheel slip (spin). This sensation detracts from what is an otherwise flawless drive. The entry-level 1.4 TFSI (110 kW / 250 Nm) on the other hand is better suited to the chassis during full acceleration. It also offers more bang than would be expected for its modest size.
The A4, like almost all Audi's, offers the best interior designs. Ergonomically advanced, therefore, superior the seating, dash and electronics work in harmony. It's a happy three-way. I thoroughly enjoyed the A4's virtual cockpit, which also features in the TT and Passat. Essentially replacing the tachometer or the speed, rev and other needled instruments. Out with the old and in with the fabulously modern electronic instrument screen. It's large - filling the entire panel. Cleverly, it is adaptable to the drivers preferred viewing layout.
Other positives are a large, comfortable cabin with more than enough space for five adults. There's a big boot and collapsible rear seats, as you would expect, making for huge storage space.
On the downside, the A4 refined cabin is jarred by tyre noise. I'm not sure why? They aren't hard walled run flat tyres that are known to be noisy. In fact, there is a spares saver sized spare in the boot. Perhaps it is because the A4's new sexy 17" rims are fitted with sports car wide 24.5cm tyres? On the upside, there is loads of grip from the fat tekkies.
Additional, although not badly spec'd at around R600 000, I would have hoped for more standard kit, things like rear park distance control or at least a reverse camera. Options are aplenty, and one can add everything bar the kitchen sink but these lovely extras are expensive.
The A4 isn't only available in 1.4 and 2.0. Later we will see a 2.0 TDI (diesel), a more powerful 2.0 (185 kW / 370 Nm) Quattro, an S4 and RS4.
If you like the A4. If you appreciate its understated well-tailored design; you will not be disappointed. In my option, you'll be driving the current class leader too.
Class leading drive
Intrusive tyre noise
Expensive option extra list
BMW 318i and 320i
Mercedes-Benz C180 and C200
The new Audi A4 will be priced as follows, including the standard 5 year/100 000km Audi Freeway Plan.
1.4 T FSI manual: R 441,000
1.4 T FSI S tronic: R 459,000
1.4 T FSI S tronic Sport: R 492,000
1.4 T FSI S tronic Design: R 488,000
2.0 T FSI S tronic: R 496,000
2.0 T FSI S tronic Sport: R517,000
2.0 T FSI S tronic Design: R 513,000
2.0 TDI Base S tronic: R 517,000
2.0 TDI S tronic Sport: R 538,000
2.0 TDI S tronic Design: R 534,000
2.0 T FSI quattro S tronic Sport: R616,000
Servicing and warranty
The new Audi A4 is inclusive of a standard 5 year/100 000km Audi Freeway Plan.
1.4 T FSI S tronic Design: R 488,000
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