2013 Audi A4 Test Drive Review
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Audi A4 Review

Car Tested: 2013 Audi A4 2.0-TDI S-Line

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 38,70,500/-

The A4 might be an entry level sedan, but there is no compromise on the Audi experience.

Entry level luxury sedans account for a major chunk of overall sales for the German Teutons, which makes them extremely important, more so in a cost conscious market like ours. The Audi A4 was launched in 1994, which started off from the fifth generation, as it replaced the Audi 80 and the company put the A4 as a continuation of that model. The A4 is now in its eight generation (Typ 8K), which was launched in 2008. Just last year Audi gave the A4 a comprehensive facelift with many changes to make it competitive against stiff competition from its German compatriots. The new Audi A4 looks quite promising on paper, so how does it deliver on the road?

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Exteriors – Typical Audi design elements make the A4 a very attractive car. While Audi hasn’t fiddled much with the overall design of the A4, the company has given the facelifted model a new pair of headlights, fog lights and tail lights, a new hexagonal grille and a new front air dam. 5-spoke alloy wheels look very sporty while the paint quality is exceptionally good. The LED day time running lights on the A4 further confirm Audi’s obsession and mastery in designing LEDs. The styling of the Audi A4 is very clearly defined with smooth flowing lines which accentuate the visual appeal of the vehicle.

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Interiors – Inside the cabin, there are no real surprises. Audi’s well laid out dashboard with high emphasis on quality and attention to detail is immediately apparent. The brown finished dash has wood and chrome inserts, while the seats are extremely comfortable with ample back support, although thigh support feels a bit short. Cabin space is strictly average, with rear seat legroom just about adequate for tall passengers. The huge transmission hump prevents a fifth passenger from sneaking inside.

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The facelifted Audi A4 gets a revised MMI system from the A6 which is more intuitive to use. The display is positioned on top of the centre AC vents and is slightly tilted towards the drive. The steering wheel has the usual buttons which help you to navigate through the crystal clear instrument cluster which has a multi-information display loaded with a plethora of options. The centre console is similar to bigger Audis which is a good thing. You get a host of features with the buttons of the MMI placed neatly next to the gear lever.

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The three zone climate control chills the cabin in no time and Audi has redesigned the ignition key and steering column stalks on the A4 facelift. The complete cabin feels elegant and the ergonomics are spot on too. When you are inside the Audi A4, you will be hard pressed to realize you are in an entry level luxury sedan as there is little compromise in terms of equipment and quality. With a decent sized boot, the A4 can comfortably carry two mid-size suitcases, making it quite practical for weekend trips.

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Performance – Audi offers three engines on the A4. The top of the line motor is a 3.0-litre TDI unit producing 245 BHP and 500 Nm, channelling power to all wheels via Audi’s quattro system. The other two engines include a 1.8-litre TFSI petrol which produces 168 BHP and a 2.0-litre TDI diesel which produces 141 BHP. Both these engines divert power to the front wheels and produce 320 Nm of torque. We drove the 2.0-litre TDI engined A4, which felt average in performance. While this same engine produces 177 BHP in some cars, we are surprised to see Audi offer a lower set of tune on the A4.

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The Audi A4 takes 10 odd seconds to breach the 100 km/hr barrier, which isn’t particuarly exciting. There is decent amount of kick once the turbo spools up but not enough for you to turn boy racer. However the engine is quite refined with negligible vibrations, feeling at home near its redline of 4500 RPM, humming with a muted roar. What particularly robs the fun of the A4 is the 8-step CVT gearbox, which is not really quick in shifting cogs. You can take control of things by manually shifting gears using the Tiptronic function. However, if you want a fast Audi, you are better off getting the 3.0-litre diesel engined A4.

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Driving Dynamics – Audi has carried out a few changes to the chassis of the A4. The vehicle gets re-tuned rear trailing arms and shock absorbers, ESP and Limited Slip Differential on front-wheel drive versions and new electro-mechanical power steering. These changes give the Audi A4 good handling but there is a fair bit of body roll. Torque steer is quite well contained thanks to the ESP which works very well. What does spoil the dynamics is the steering, which doesn’t feel as communicative or direct, with feedback lacking, even though the unit is a speed sensitive one.

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Where the Audi A4 does excel is in its ride quality. Low speed ride quality is terrific and the car absorbs bumps with thorough confidence. As speeds build up, the tendency to pitch increases minutely which isn’t much of a bother. Cruising on the highways at triple digit speeds show the real character of the A4, it simply glides on the roads, remaining supremely planted. Braking performance is good but when you stand on the brakes, the A4 doesn’t show the same confidence as some of its rivals.

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Verdict – The Audi A4 is quite a mixed bag. While it does offer appealing interiors and exteriors, the driving experience falls a bit short compared to the BMW 3-Series. The 2.0-litre TDI engined A4 is a car you would prefer to be chauffeured around, rather than push through the twisties. One can’t really blame Audi for the shortfalls shown by the A4, the new 3-Series has come and re-written the rules of the segment. The next generation A4 is due next year and we expect Audi to take the game forward, right against its Bavarian rival. Till then, the Audi A4 remains a practical offering in the entry level segment, which will appeal to those who want a comfortable luxury car with high appeal and equipment.

The Audi A4 is not the most engaging car in its segment but it has massive appeal elsewhere, enough to be a deal clincher for most.

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What’s Cool

* Exterior appeal
* Interior quality
* Pliant ride

What’s Not So Cool

* Steering not communicative enough

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2013 Audi A4 Specifications

* Engine: 1968cc, VGT, DOHC, TDI
* Power: 141 BHP @ 4200 RPM
* Torque: 320 Nm @ 1750-2000 RPM
* Transmission: 8-step CVT Multitronic
* Top Speed: 210 km/hr
* 0-100 km/h: 10.25 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 10 km/l (City), 12 km/l (highway)
* Fuel Type: Diesel
* Suspension: Five-link, upper and lower wishbones (Front), Independent-wheel trapezoidal link (Rear)
* Tyres: 225/55/16 Tubeless Radials
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Disc (Rear), dual circuit brake system
* Safety: ABS, EBD, ESP, Brake Assist, Six Airbags, Reversing Camera

2013 Audi A4 Dimensions

* Overall length x width x height: 4701 mm X 1826 mm X 1427 mm
* Wheelbase: 2808 mm
* Front/Rear Track: 1564/1551 mm
* Ground clearance: 160 mm
* Turning Radius: 5.75-metres
* Boot Volume: 480-litres
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 63-litres
* Kerb Weight: 1515 kgs

Further Reading –

Audi S4 Review
BMW 3-Series Review
Mercedes C-Class Review