I’m not a big lover of surprises, I don’t ‘hate’ them (which is the way I thought about starting this off) but over the years I have realized that most surprises air towards the negative. This doesn’t make me a pessimist, I’m more of a realist – the glass may be half full but it’s still got 50% more to go. Take surprise birthdays as an example – the ‘surprisor’ goes to great lengths to covertly book the venue and the other party necessities, invite as many friends or acquaintances as possible for full impact (probably by trawling through social media friends – and we all know how reliable that is). Then there is the fake ‘let’s just stop by such and such restaurant’ with accompanying lame excuse (or worse still – the party is at your own home). While this is going on, the surpriseee’s suspicion is raised as whispered phone calls and ‘break in routines’ occur. Close friends have other arrangements on your birthday – but are vague about the details. Attitudes change as misgivings grow in the surprisee and stress increases in the surprisor… and all for what? The big ‘surprise’ as you enter the room – it’s not smiles of joy and happiness you are witnessing – it’s relief! Anyway, last week Audi gave me the keys to something that make me rethink my whole surprise ethos, it make me scratch my head and say ‘A?’
A diesel engined Audi A4 may not sound much and as I walked towards the 2016 model in the car park it didn’t immediately look that much either. It’s not at all bad looking, (in fact when you take it away from a lineup of cars two and three times its price it looks great) but it has the ability to blend into its environment. First impression from afar is that it’s not ostentatious or dramatic in its exterior it’s just a clean and tidy looking sedan – but then I got up close.
I was surprised to see that the paintwork wasn’t grey it was Florett Silver, a metallic coating that offered depth and shine to the body. This model also had the S-Line exterior package which included 19” matt titanium Alloys, larger air vents and deeper skirts, it may not sound like much but the overall effect is a more aggressive and purposeful than the base model. It also has the S-Line Sports suspension, which lowers the car and stiffens the dampers – thankfully not too much. The Head and tail lights are upgraded and of course the S-Line badge is added plus it has a few high gloss trim pieces that complete the effect.
The outside was great but it was the inside that really had me bemused. I was under the (evidently misguided) impression that the ‘A’ was the standard run of the mill Audi so the Fine Nappa leather interior, Piano Black inlays, Head up Display, Audi virtual cockpit and 360 degree camera came as a bit of a pleasant shock – the whole package had me scratching my head and reaching of the manual, where it got even worse. This model came with Stop/Go Adaptive cruise control, Park assist – it will parallel park at the push of a button, Active lane assist… I’m semi old school where the base model comes with electric windows – this car was the gift that kept on giving!
Ok, so the exterior and interior managed to raise my eyebrows but I felt pretty certain that the fun would stop under the bonnet – after all, it’s a diesel. My expectations of a noisy and slow lump were shattered the moment I pushed the start button and hit the road. Yes I know that diesel powertarins have come on leaps and bounds but this 3L V6 turbo engine in the A4 was something else. It has a full tank range of around 1000k’s and yet will give you 200kW’s of power (that is introduced at 3250rpm). Plus it has a whopping 600Nm of torque that comes at you around 1,500 rpm. What that means is, 0-100 is upon you in 5.3 seconds and it has a (limited) top speed of 250kph. All this with a 4.9L/100 fuel efficiency. The 8 speed tiptronic gearbox is fun to play with and paddles should you require an added (mistaken) sense of driver control – the gears are selected perfectly well in Auto.
Dynamic mode gets the A4 for steer more precisely and makes the drive more exciting so that’s where I spent most of the week. The Quattro system is as good as it’s ever been and you really get the confidence to throw it into corners that little bit more that with other sedans. Boot space (I can personally attest) will take two large suitcases plus carry on travel luggage which was another revelation.
Look it’s not all rosy, I think that the indicator stalks don’t seem to have been changed since the 80’s and steering wheel adjustment isn’t electronic (oh the humanity) but the virtual cockpit instrument panel with Sat Nav display, more than makes up for it.
With its class leading Drag coefficient, fuel economy, exceptional driving experience, and fully loaded gadgetry all wrapped up in its discrete middle management look this Audi is quite the package. All I can say is ‘Thank you Audi for restoring my faith in surprises’ the eye opening (and near jaw dropping) improvements you have made to this car really turns it from an A4 to an Audi A phwoar.
Thanks for the pic Audi NZ Simon Watts/bwmedia.co.nz