It’s basically car industry doctrine that Audi does the best interiors in the biz. For continued proof, look to the new TT or R8. It’s like their designers are working from another set of rules, playing the game differently. Everything is digital – the buttons, the controls – but they’ve got a machine-like analogue build-quality. It’s the same with Audi’s all-new A4. The climate knobs look like they came off killer ’70s hi-fi gear. And the instrument display looks like something straight out of Blade Runner. The narrow strip of air vent that runs the width of the cabin – why didn’t anyone else think of that?
This is a car Audi really couldn’t afford to compromise on. Now in its ninth iteration, the A4 is their pretzel and pilsner. No wonder it drives like a bank vault: quiet inside, with the chassis happy to soak up the awful roads of Northern Italy, for example. Underneath there’s tech you won’t see even on much more expensive vehicles: magnesium for the rear seat frames, aluminium suspension components. Just about any gadget you can get on Audi’s flagship Q7 SUV, you can get on this.
Out on the road, the A4 has very balanced steering that holds true to centre, and then responds deftly to driver input. The brakes have a helpful amount of grab but don’t overreach. Also, you don’t find yourself reaching for them much outside of traffic – the car is happy to hold a line and carries momentum well through turns where other affordable saloons might get a bit skittish.
The cockpit is spare and elegant, with dearth knobs – just MMI and climate controls peer up from the otherwise clean surfaces. There’s also a configurable control screen that can be optioned if you’re done with analogue dials.
Important to many buyers – the A4 comes well kitted out, even at entry price, with 17-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, three-zone climate control, cruise control, rear parking sensors and the 7.0” screen for MMI. You can add plenty of other stuff, but Audi does a good job of reminding you that you’re not in a, er, Volkswagen.
“ Out on the road, the A4 has very balanced steering that holds true to centre, and then responds deftly to driver input ”
This is the lightest A4 yet, dropping 120kilogrammes (depending on specs), and you can feel it in the handling. The chassis and suspension take great advantage of the lighter load, and the results make the car sportier than its predecessor.All in all, the car is a success – it melds style with substance and provides a credible driving experience on a reasonable budget. Sure, there are bigger, bolder things in the Audi stable, but the A4 certainly marks a great place to start.
Of course, there are plenty of sportier rides in the Audi stable but the A4 is a remarkably satisfying car to drive, partly because the interior makes you feel like a total boss. There are also two different 2.0-litre options developing 187bhp and 249bhp.
There will be many, many variants of the A4. We’ll save you time and just say the S4 is the best one, for now. But, keep an eye out for a future plug-in hybrid model too.
Model: 35 TFSI
ENGINE: 4-cylinder turbo
POWER: 170 hp
Performance: 0-100 km/h in 8.3 seconds
225km/h (top speed)
GEARBOX: 8-speed multitronic
Price: AED 140,300