George, Western Cape - More power, more efficient and some seriously great tech... Audi's new A4 has arrived in South Africa featuring possibly the best iteration yet of the automaker's best-selling model.
For the first time, Audi South Africa will offer three trim lines: Standard, Sport and Design. The S line exterior package is available over and above either of the trim lines.
The new model boasts 90% new parts, and across the range benefits from 25% more power and 21% less fuel consumption.
Building on its predecessor
The A4 is Audi's bread-and-butter with the automaker selling more than a million units of its premium sedan.
The outgoing version suffered from a love-or-hate-it CVT and a lackluster driving experience. Hopping into a new A4 in George, Western Cape, I had high hopes for the new model.
Audi tends to leave its models in development a lot longer than its German rivals and it seems its patience has paid off as the new B9 (its model designation) is one the best A4 sedans yet.
To rectify the short-comings of the eighth-gen A4, the latest sedan from Ingolstadt makes huge leaps in dynamics, safety and technology.
The entire design receives subtle tweaks throughout giving it a longer, wider and more aggressive stance.
The new A4 is 16mm wider and 25mm longer than its predecessor and its dimensions has increased its weight has been reduced significantly – up to 120kg depending on the engine. The body of the new A4 is one of the lightest in its class.
Its sleek design isn't just for show; the outer lines of the air-inlets integrate additional openings to guide air over the wheel well. Even the wheels, side-mirrors and door sills are aerodynamically optimised.
The new A4 is offered with a choice of two petrol engines (1.4 and 2.0-litre), with a diesel and a petrol quattro to follow - each can be mated to an S-tronic automatic transmission (replaces the previous multitronic CVT).
The entry-level 1.4-litre turbocharged engine is capable of 110kW/250Nm, available in both manual and S tronic. It has a claimed fuel consumption of 4.9 litres/100km and emissions of 114g/km (making it exempt from CO2 tax in SA).
The 2.0T FSI produces 140kW/320Nm, available only in S tronic transmission, with claimed fuel consumption rated at 5.4 litres/100km with CO2 emissions of 122 g/km.
Electro-mechanical power steering and redeveloped five-link axles are standard, with dynamic steering and adjustable damping optional.
More engines for SA
A 185kW/370Nm 2.0T FSI quattro will be introduced in April 2016 followed by a 140kW/400Nm 2.0-litre TDI. Audi says its new TDI has a combined fuel consumption of 4.9 litres/100km.
Has Audi managed to breathe life into its A4 on the road? In short, a resounding yes!
Driving through the scenic passes of George and Mossel Bay, the 2.0 TFSI engine is great match for the A4 in its willingness to rev to its power peak; turbo lag is negligible and mid-range throttle response is great. Turn-in is sharp and its redesigned suspension enables the sedan to easily soak up bumps and undulations.
Steering is a huge improvement over the outgoing model, connecting you to the road and providing accurate feedback. The numb experience of old has been replaced by a sharper, more agile package backed by controlled cornering and superb handling.
Its standard suspension setup is controlled but fairly supple, striking a pleasant balance between comfort and dynamic driving.
Handling is firm and stable though its front-wheel drive limits its dynamic potential.
The four-cylinder 1.4 is nowhere near as torquey or responsive as the larger 2.0-litre unit considering the mass it has to propel. Powered by the 1.4, the sedan delivers everything a typical A4 owner needs - a quiet, compliant ride with adequate acceleration.
I suppose Audi will never let go of its core market but for those seeking more excitement behind the wheel there's a 185kW 2.0T Quattro on the way.
1. BMW 3 Series
2. Mercedes-Benz C-class
3. Jaguar XE
4. Lexus IS
5. Volkswagen Passat
6. Ford Fusion
As appealing as the A4 is, it's impossible to ignore the excellence of its rivals in South Africa, most of which have already been launched locally. Its traditional rivals include the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
As if those competitors weren't enough, the A4 will take on the likes of relatively new players to the local premium sedan market - Lexus IS, Jaguar XE and Ford Fusion.
Inside, the new A4 surpasses its predecessor in almost all interior dimensions - shoulder width and head clearance for driver and front-seat passenger has increased by 11mm, while the interior length has grown by 17mm and rear legroom is 23mm larger.
Audi offers its optional virtual cockpit in the new A4 - a fully digital combination instrument, debuted in the A3, featuring a 31cm LCD screen that displays the most important information in high-resolution graphics.
The MMI control concept in the centre console is also a new. The top-end infotainment system, MMI Navigation plus with MMI touch and a large 21cm monitor, has a touchpad enabling drivers to zoom-in and out and enter characters.
The new Audi tablet can be used as flexible rear seat entertainment for media and accessing the internet, and is also completely removable to be used as a normal tablet.
New safety systems
Nearly all of the equipment on-board the new A4 has been completely redesigned or enhanced in comparison to outgoing version. Safety systems include Audi active lane-assist, Audi pre-sense, side assist, City Assistance package and parking assistance package. Standard assistance systems include Audi pre-sense city, secondary collision brake assist and the adjustable restraint system.
The City Assistance package will include the following: Parking system plus, reverse camera, Audi side assist, rear-cross traffic assist, Audi pre sense and exit warning systems.
Good handling, enhanced performance and seriously great tech... the ninth-generation A4 has lifted its game remarkably in SA. It's possibly the best A4 yet and a serious contender in the premium sedan market. The new A4 range is elegant, refined and surprisingly sporty.
The next-gen A4 is the embodiment of Audi's longtime marketing slogan 'Vorsprung durch Technik' (Advancement through Technology), filled to brim with the automaker's latest innovations in driving systems and assistance.
Comfortable, sophisticated and packed with tech... the 2016 A4 is technically proficient in many areas but perhaps short on charisma compared to the 3 Series and not as pretty as the C-Class. That being said, the A4 is a vast improvement over its predecessor and should, given its sales history, bring smiles to many local owners.
Prices: includes standard five 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
More from Audi
Wheels24 reported earlier in February that Audi were testing three new models in South Africa. Audi SA confirmed that they were the new A5 coupe, Q5 and smaller SUV Q2.
At the launch of the A4, Audi SA told Wheels24 that the new Q5 and A5 (coupe, sportback and cabriolet) will arrive locally in 2017.
Audi A4 1.4T FSI manual and S tronic:
• 16" alloy wheels
• Xenon plus headlights
• Keyless go
• S tronic gear selector with Multi-function three-spoke steering wheel
• MMI Radio plus with Bluetooth
• Driver information system
• Tyre pressure monitoring
• Partial leather upholstery
• Cruise control system
• Rain sensor
• Auto air-conditioning
• Front centre armrest
• Space saving spare wheel
• Electrical interface for external use AUX-IN and USB
Audi A4 2.0T FSI S tronic:
In addition to above standard equipment:
• 17" alloy wheels
• Audi Drive Select
The Sport line adds:
• 17" wheels with a 5-spoke Y design
• Radiator grille in twilight and inlays in chrome
• Inlays in aluminium
• Dark rear diffusor
• High-gloss package
• Three-spoke multi-function leather steering wheel
• Sports suspension
• Front sports seats
• Chromed exhaust
• 17" wheels with a 10-spoke crystal design
• Radiator grille in dark chrome high gloss and inlays in chrome
• Diffuser in dark chrome matt with diffuser in chrome
• Inlays in aluminium
• High gloss package
• Three-spoke multi-function leather steering wheel
• Chromed exhausts