Last week, you might recall me moaning about my bad back. But thanks to that massaging rear seat in the suave A8L, I was well enough to throw the revised A4 TFSI quattro around a few corners without worrying about slipping a disk.
Happy days indeed because this improved A4 with the S line package, was just begging to be thrashed. One look would confirm that. Aggressive front end with a high-gloss black grille? Check. 19in five-arm rotor-design titanium-look wheels? Check. Blood-red paint? Sort of. The tins of Misano Red used to bathe this four-door beauty worked just as well.
Basically, it looked like it wanted to go. I wasn’t going to sit back and drive Audi’s global best-seller (10 million units sold around the world over the last 39 years) like I was driving Miss Daisy — not with a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 under the pumped bonnet.
According to the official literature, this eighth-generation model has “more sportiness and efficiency”.
The latter part really doesn’t interest me nor, do I suspect, you, since we live in a part of the world where fuel is cheaper than water. It was the first claim that I was getting excited about. But you must never simply jump into a car and floor the loud pedal through the footwell. Not on a first date.
So, I decided to take it easy before going wild with my blood-curdling red A4 just in case it tried to kill me. It was, after all, packing a 272-horse motor. That doesn’t sound like much, but as I was to find out, each of those horses would hoof you in the face when you stabbed the throttle like you’d been, er, hoofed in the face. By a horse. 272 times.
Before being belted, I thought it wise to give this 3 Series-bating saloon a good going over. It looked cleaner and more pronounced thanks to a revised bonnet, bumpers with angular air inlets and flat front fog lights and a single frame grille with the Audi rings highlighted three-dimensionally.
Daytime running LEDs at the front and back screamed “look at me!” while there was no missing those S-line badges scattered, carefully, all over the exterior. Inside, I was expecting big things. Audi has spoilt us with interiors crafted, seemingly, in heaven. But the A4’s cabin was just good.
That’s not saying it was bad. Though it certainly wasn’t in the same league as its brethren. Still, it was elegant yet sporty and that leather-wrapped multifunction steering felt as if it were made for my hands.
Plenty of brushed aluminium trim, fine Nappa leather (which replaces the old Valcona hide) and excellent workmanship made for a sound environment. Speaking of which, the Bang and Olufsen stereo with its eight loud speakers, was mightily impressive. It was so sharp and clear that after years of trying, I was finally able to understand just what Dylan had been mumbling about. No higher compliment can be paid to a sound system than that.
Some of the buttons and control elements had been improved too, such as the ones on the MMI navigation plus infotainment system. It now uses just four buttons while the volume knob doubles up as a skip function. To the oily bits and this is where it gets interesting.
The updated A4 has reduced fuel consumption by as much as 11 per cent. I’m pleased for your wallet, the environment and all that, but the really good news is the force-fed 3.0-litre TFSI six-pot is a raging loony!
It packs 400Nm of torque from as low down as 2,150rpm and has the ability to hit 100kph from standstill in just 5.4 seconds. We also have a 1.8 TFSI and 2.0 TFSI in this region, but just why anyone would want either of those when this brute is available baffles me. Want an A4? You want it with this powerplant. Like our test car’s exterior, it is red hot and also features direct injection and a start-stop system as standard.
The big boy’s pulling power is just terrific. I really wasn’t expecting to be so impressed with this four-wheel-drive beast, it caught me off guard. With that delightful seven-speed S tronic gearbox swapping cogs without a fuss and an exceptionally poised chassis, this car was a delight. That raspy V6 made merging with traffic not just fun but easy and another dab of the throttle later and it left all the others in its wake.
It didn’t mope around town but clearly enjoyed being unleashed on an open stretch where it gobbled up the tarmac like it’d been starved for days. And with all four wheels working in tandem, it gripped like a vice. I brazenly tossed it into a bend at speed and not only did it stick to the road like glue, but I barely noticed any body roll, nor did I hear a screech from the rubbers. And when the roads got bumpy, the A4 remained as smooth as silk. Its chassis really is a work of art and impressed me no end with its sporty precision.
Those retuned shocks and rear trailing arms have done it the world of good while the electromechanical power steering is a decent set up and offered plenty of feedback.
The Audi drive select has five driving modes, but trust me, you’ll only ever want it in Dynamic.
The sound of the gears blipping down alone will see to that. Activate this mode and the steering becomes stiffer giving you better control in the corners. It holds on to gears longer too and the throttle response is much sharper. Yep, forget the other modes because you really won’t want to disengage it from Dynamic.
The BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C Class are both great cars, offer lots of prestige and lots of thrills too. But they had better be watching over their shoulders, because not only is this top-of-the-line A4 at the top of its game, for Dh177,000 it’s been competitively priced and is creeping right up behind them.