Jaco Van Der Merwe
The updated Audi A4 has put us in a bit of a predicament. What the people over at Ingolstadt ideally would want us to write about the updated sedan would mostly centre around the fact that it was Audi’s first model to feature fully integrated connectivity. But after spending some time in the A4 in 35 TFSI Advanced guise, we’ve decided to take a different approach.
Simply put, the A4 is a damn fine car. Yes, all the nice sideshows would naturally strengthen the main act, but the main purpose of a vehicle remains getting from point A to point B. And purely from a driving point of view, the A4 manages this task with aplomb. It is comfortable, feels balanced and handles well, which all culminate in genuine driving pleasure. Add to this the appeal of all the improvements in the intended PR message and it’s easy to see why SUVs have not managed to kill this star sedan yet.
Aesthetically, very little has changed in the facelifted A4, both on the outside and in the cabin. Exteriorly, the A4 benefits from a broader and flatter Singleframe grille which is flanked by standard LED headlights. Our test unit featured the optional R13 800 Lightning package, which includes dynamic indicators, headlight washers and high beam assist.
Moving inside and there is no more avoiding the connectivity elephant in the room … or cockpit should I say. At the heart of the cabin is the 10.1-inch TFT high-resolution touchscreen which replaces the functions of the rotary/pushbutton control on the centre tunnel console that served in the previous generation. Smartphone interface and voice control come standard.
Our test unit featured the optional R21 000 Technology package which includes navigation plus, MMI touch and full functionality of Audi connect. And Audi connect features such a comprehensive list of goodies, it’s easy to see why the A4’s cutting-edge technology is a major selling point. An embedded sim card not only keeps the A4 connected with internet services as well as providing real-time information and Car-to-X services, but also allows you to access information and execute certain function via the myAudi app.
The app allows digital access to the car at any time, displaying information such as fuel level, range and warning messages. Certain functions which can be executed from the app is locking/unlocking, sounding the alarm and activating the hazard lights. Additional services include support in the event of breakdown, damage or minor accidents. This is done through an emergency call directly from the vehicle.
Our 35 TFSI featured the optional Virtual Cockpit, which means the standard analog instrument dials are replaced by a magnificent 12.3-inch high-resolution digital instrument cluster. The crystal-clear display gives you the choice of three views and at R5 300 extra, this option is an absolute must. You simply can’t allow prehistoric analog displays infiltrate and otherwise almost futuristic digital experience.
Under the bonnet things have largely stayed the same, with the 35 TFSI powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine that sends 110kW/270Nm to the front wheels via seven-speed S tronic transmission. The facelifted version does feature a mild-hybrid system which is based on 12-volts and said to reduce fuel consumption by up to 0.3L/100 km.
Speaking of fuel consumption, we managed to average around 10L/100 km, a far cry from the claimed 6.1L/100 km on a combined cycle. In its defence, our A4 spent almost all of its five days with us in city traffic and should show a much better return on the open road.
Audi claims the 35 TFSI will reach 100 km/h from a standstill in 8.9 sec with a top whack of 225 km/h, but we did not put either of these to the test. Space in the A4 is as roomy as you’d expect from a midsize sedan, with plenty of leg and headroom for rear passengers and 460-litres of boot space.
The SUV onslaught has relegated many sedans to the history books over the years, but there is still a few waving the flag for this dying breed. The remaining ones have managed to survive for various reasons; they are good products, brand/model loyalty and heritage. The A4, a popular local choice since its debut in the mid-1990s ticks all these boxes. And keeping up with the current digital demands will ensure its longevity.
The Audi A4 35 TFSI Advanced costs R663 000 without options and comes standard with the five year/100 000 km Audi Freeway plan.
For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.