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Audi A4 2.0 TDI 190PS S line S tronic

Click to view picture gallery“What’s trending today in cars is
  Comms — and Audi’s all-new A4 does
  an impressive job of seamlessly
  integrating the latest glossy hi-tech
  communications disciplines within
  its beautifully evolved cabin...”


INSTANTLY IDENTIFIABLE AS AN A4, the new fifth-generation is actually the same height as the previous model although looks-wise it exudes a far more 'planted' stance. Fronted by a wide, low single-frame grille flanked by distinctive angular LED headlights, the slim clam-style bonnet's shut-lines run into sharply-ironed creases that flow down the flanks from nose to tail. Confirming its self-assured kerb appeal, and fitted snugly in subtly flared wheelarches, are standout matt titanium-finish, V-spoke-pattern 19-inch alloys. On the move, dynamic 'sweeping' indicators add extra 'wow'.

With a range of more fuel-efficient yet at the same time more powerful engines, more cabin space, and less weight, the new A4 delivers better driving dynamics and is clearly set on continuing the best-selling record set by its predecessors.

Left to self-manage in
Drive, the S tronic glides
quickly up through the
gears in the interests
of fuel economy.
However, snick the
selector back into Sport
and it shows a far more
dynamic side to its
character with decisive
shifts that are
very much in tune with
your right foot...”
Engines first: a range of seven four- and six-cylinder petrol and diesel units means there's a powerplant to suit everyone. We've just been driving the 187bhp 2.0 TDI with the seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic gearbox that in real-life, over the course of a hard-driven week, averaged a plastic-friendly 45.7mpg. Top speed is a licence-losing 147mph and acceleration to 62mph takes a speedy 7.7 seconds.

A muscular 295lb ft of torque guarantees responsive acceleration from low down; it feels agreeably fee-revving notably so for a diesel and even when pressed the soundproofing, which wouldn't be out of place in a limo, keeps the engine note nicely muted.

Easily justifying the extra £1,530 it costs, the seven-speed S tronic autobox complements the S line's premium ambiance better than any stick-shift; it also does a superior job of putting the TDI's power and torque to good use through the front wheels.

Left to self-manage in Drive, the S tronic glides quickly up through the gears in the interests of fuel economy. It also has a built-in 'coast' mode to make every gallon go as far as possible, which it switches to virtually undetectably (the only give-away is the green icon that appears in the speedometer). However, snick the selector back into Sport and it shows a far more dynamic side to its character, with decisive shifts that are very much in tune with your right foot.

For Scully in the X Files the truth was always 'out there' but for A4 owners it's actually 'in here'; inside the beautifully-crafted cabin — not only is it the best in its class with more space but it scores highly for its easy-to-use, cutting-edge Comms.

Setting the scene in the appealingly tactile and tastefully designed wraparound cabin is fine Nappa leather upholstery, first-rate fit and finish and outstanding attention to detail: for instance, touch any of the climate control switches and their icons immediately enlarge for better clarity.

Our S line test model came with Sport seats that take the sting out of long journeys thanks to plenty of adjustment, good bolstering (particularly around the ribs), extendable under-knee support, comfy headrests (with smooth-operating, nail-friendly side-buttons to change the height), four-way powered lumbar adjustment, three-stage heating, and a full fist of headroom.

For Scully in the X Files
the truth was always
‘out there’; for A4 owners
it’s actually ‘in here’,
inside the beautifully-
crafted cabin — not only
is it the best in its class
with more space
but a major plus is its
easily-usable, cutting-
edge Comms...”
The S line also comes with an all-black multifunction Sport wheel that while not flat-bottomed is nevertheless of a compact size with a grippy perforated leather rim. On its spokes you'll find paddle-shifters along with remote controls for just about everything you'll ever need while driving. We especially liked the buttons that let you skip instantly between major menus and displays as well as minimise or maximise the rev-counter and speedometer.

A major highlight of the new A4 is its Virtual Cockpit. Already in use in the latest TT and the new Q7 and R8, this is a fully digital, multi-configurable 12.3-inch hi-res LCD instrument display that lets you put everything you need to know right in front of your eyes; it can be changed in an instant from conventional dials either side of a driver's information section to a 'wide-screen' navigation map that fills the instrument panel overlaid by large or small dials and whatever other important navigation or infotainment data you want.

The rev-counter's centre section shows the currently selected gear as well as the Drive Select mode; your road speed figure appears in crisp white numerals in the centre of the speedometer. Usefully, roadside speed limits (including temporary ones) and other important warning signs are also shown in the driver's information section as well as on the other desirable piece of digital real estate to be found in the A4.

Sited in the centre of the fascia is a slimline 8.3-inch, free-standing infotainment touchscreen which also does smartphone-style scrolling: swipe, pinch or just plain tap. Whatever you do, it happens in a flash thanks to big-hitting processing power behind the scenes.

Last but most definitely not least is Audi's MMI system made even more interactive by MMI Touch, which turns the top of the MMI rotary control knob into a touch-sensitive pad with handwriting recognition: use your finger to input letters, numbers and symbols.

If that's not enough, when your mobile is connected you can switch to Apple or Android-based operating systems to have your smartphone's functions and menus mirrored on the main touchscreen display so without taking your eyes off the road you can safely make calls, navigate, and select music and podcasts via your smartphone's assistant, the MMI controls on the centre console, the multifunction steering wheel, or by using Voice Control. Furthermore, with the Smartphone Interface, any text messages you receive while driving can be read out to you if you need to respond you can do so simply by dictating your message.

A major highlight of the
new A4 is its Virtual
Cockpit. Already in use
in the latest TT and
the new Q7 and R8, this
is a fully digital, multi-
configurable 12.3-inch
hi-res LCD instrument
display that lets you
put everything you need
to know right in
front of your eyes...”
You can also, should you prefer, use Apple and Google maps for navigation; addresses from your email, texts, contacts and calendar can be added as destinations. Does it get any better than this?

Yes, actually, it does. More techie stuff is housed in the glovebox where you'll find two SD slots along with one for a SIM and another for a CD/DVD; and in the storage box under the adjustable centre front armrest are an AUX and a pair of USB connections it's also the place to park your mobile so it can be wirelessly charged as you drive!

We should stress that every part of this tech-fest is simple and straightforward to use thanks to the entire MMI control logic being similar to that of a smartphone and including an intelligent free-text search function that can be used across the menus. Better still, the new, and more natural, voice control system also understands straight talking: should you, for instance, want to call Debbie Harry you can simply say "I want to call Blondie".

In its class the A4 also sets the benchmark for driver assistance systems with features like an Adaptive Cruise Control that can recognise and use the prevailing roadside speed limits as well as adapt to conditions ahead using the SatNav, and Traffic-jam Assist which, in congested traffic at speeds of up to 40mph on well-developed roads, can even take over the steering.

Using radar and ultrasound sensors as well as the front camera, it guides the car by gently adjusting the steering and following the traffic ahead using the lane markings and other vehicles on the road for orientation. When the traffic thins out or human intervention is needed, Traffic-jam Assist provides timely warnings and, if necessary, will safely bring the A4 to a full stop.

Poor night vision can make even Bugatti's 261mph Chiron slow in the dark, but not the A4; its Matrix LED headlights maintain a constant high beam without dazzling other drivers using sensors and an inbuilt camera to detect other road users (as well as ambient light in built-up areas) they dip individual LEDs to prevent dazzle while still fully illuminating the remainder of the road. They also serve as cornering lights and (in conjunction with MMI navigation plus) can use the car's navigation data to anticipate corners and shift the beams towards the bend just before the driver turns the steering wheel.

Versatility is boosted by
the 40:20:40 split/fold
seatbacks — drop the
centre section and you
can still carry two rear
passengers as well
as long and fairly large
items loaded through
between them.
Luggage capacity is on
a par with its BMW
and Merc rivals with a
seats-up 480 litres and
965 litres with them
folded down...”
All-weather lights are also standard-fit and prevent your own headlights dazzling you on wet roads. More core safety features include the Pre-sense City automatic braking system, that uses a stereo camera to detect vehicles and pedestrians up to 100 metres ahead and, if an imminent collision is detected, the system warns the driver; Pre-sense City can also initiate emergency braking to prevent a collision up to speeds of approximately 53mph.

And making a fashion statement out of safety are the brilliant dynamic indicators which 'sweep' sequentially in the direction you're intending to turn and which alert other drivers far more effectively than do conventional 'winkers'.

Aristotle's observation about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts rings as true today with the A4: sure, the amount and sophistication of the A4's avant-garde technik is impressive and makes you wonder how on earth you managed without it but it works because it's seamlessly integrated with the premium cabin and the enjoyable driving dynamics that collectively make this latest A4 such an appealing package.

And when you're carrying back passengers they'll be grateful that the rear cabin is longer and wider enough to make the A4 one of the most spacious in its class. Getting in and out is easy and the backrest angle is comfortable; a big, wide centre armrest with a built-in tray in the lid, along with very usable outer armrests on the doors, together make for relaxed travel.

Fair-sized door pockets and netted magazine pouches mop up personal 'clutter' while the AirCon's third zone keeps the climate just so. Knee-room is good and there's space for feet although if you're carrying a third person in the middle their feet will have to straddle the transmission tunnel but that's not a problem.

Versatility is boosted by the 40:20:40 split/fold seatbacks drop the centre section and you can still take two rear passengers as well as long and fairly large items loaded through between them. Luggage capacity is on a par with the competition from BMW (3 Series) and Mercedes (C-Class): 480 litres with the rear seats in use and 965 litres with them folded down. Need more? The A4 Avant estate comes with a 1,510-litre loadbay.

The saloon's boot lid is head-friendly and loading be it cases or cargo is easily done through the wide boot aperture. Sturdy tie-down points and a stretchy luggage net keep things shipshape, while netted side bins hold a first aid kit and reflective safety vests.

Earlier, we mentioned less weight… Underpinned by a new platform and aluminium-rich suspension componentry, the new A4 is a significant 120kg lighter. Not only that, but it's more aerodynamic a lowest-in-class drag coefficient of just 0.23 helps it cleave through the air with barely a ripple.

It’s an easy car to drive
fluently even when
pressing on.
The steering is fine with
turn-in well-judged:
sweeping bends and
corners can be entered
swiftly and your line
held and rewarded by
a keen exit...”
At higher speeds it rides with reassuring stability and refinement and will effortlessly cover long distances at big speeds. But it's equally happy on everyday A and B roads where the ride is supple and comfortable enough even rolling on 19-inch Hankook 245/35 rubber while letting you know that it's staying in touch with the blacktop.

The driving position makes it easy to visually place the A4 while beneath your feet the grippy and wieldy chassis makes it enjoyable to drive while doing the same. Equipped with the optional Adaptive Sport suspension with damping control, our front-wheel drive A4 served up an assured and secure driving experience.

Don't let 'secure' put you off the A4's handling dynamics don't end there and it's an easy car to drive fluently even when pressing on. The steering is fine with turn-in well-judged: sweeping bends and corners can be entered swiftly and your line held and rewarded by a keen exit. The brakes are fine too, progressively hauling down your speed without drama.

Giving you more handling and ride choices is Audi's Drive Select which means a press of the 'fave' button on the steering wheel (if that's what you've set it to) instantly puts the A4 in any one of five driving modes: Dynamic, Comfort, Auto, Efficiency, or driver-customised Individual.

Adding to the dynamic mix is the S tronic dual-clutch autobox: paddle-shifting in Sports mode injects a strong dose of sharp-edged driving aggression especially when selected alongside Drive Select's Dynamic mode. For less adrenaline spikes you (and your passengers) will appreciate the compliant ride that Comfort brings. But whatever your norm racy or relaxing you'll find this new A4 delightful to live with and a far, far better A4 than Audi has ever done before.

You don't need to drive far in Audi' latest compact executive saloon to know that every mile you spend travelling in it is charging your mental and physical batteries as surely as it's wirelessly charging up the battery in your smartphone. It's classy, refined, comfortable and a pleasure to drive. More than that, in every sense of the word, it's 'connected': to its driver, its passengers and to the World!
MotorBar

Audi A4 2.0 TDI 190PS S line S tronic | £33,345
Maximum speed: 147mph | 0-62mph: 7.7 seconds | Test Average: 45.7mpg
Power: 187bhp | Torque: 295lb ft | CO2: 113g/km