When the new Mercedes-Benz C200 took out the Judges’ Choice at the 2014 Australia’s Best Cars awards, we concluded: “Apart from easily being the best in category (Medium Car Over $50,000), the C-Class is now the standard by which others will be judged.”
One of those ‘others’ is Audi, which earlier this year responded by way of its ninth-generation A4.
Don’t be fooled by the similar looks to its predecessor – under the skin and inside is 90 percent new and bristling with the latest technology, as it needs to be. Built on the latest MLB platform, the 2016 A4 throws down a genuine challenge to the game-changing C-Class.
At idle, our 2.0 TFSI (turbo-petrol) quattro (all-wheel-drive) test car emitted not even the hint of a pulse through its flat-bottomed (optional) steering wheel.
Roll the throttle on and, after a little first gear pause, the smooth flow continues as the turbo four surfs its wave of torque (370Nm from 1600 to 4500rpm) and on to peak power (185kW), which kicks in at 5000rpm and stays true to 6000rpm. Zero to 100km/h comes up in just 5.8 seconds, with the standard seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmission upshifting clinically and ultra-fast.
The steering is more accomplished and communicative and the quattro system provides all the traction and grip you could want.
Body control is taut and tight and, although there’s no harshness even over second-grade roads, the A4 rides on the firm side on 19˝ alloys.
Audi interiors have been long-regarded as among the best in the business and the new A4 dances to this beat. Ergonomic function fuses seamlessly with contemporary style, with everything laid out logically and devoid of clutter, an exception being the cruise control on a separate, inconveniently placed stalk. The 480 litres of cargo space doubles when the split/fold rear seats are dropped.
As expected, creature comfort and connectivity levels are comprehensive: leather seat trim, powered front seats with memory function, tri-zone climate control and keyless entry/start. Tick the boxes also for an 8.3˝ display, satellite navigation, Audi Connect online services, in-car Wi-Fi, digital radio, Bluetooth phone and audio, 10 speakers, MMI touchpad and scroll wheel, 10GB flash hard drive and smartphone connectivity.
Safety includes eight airbags, autonomous emergency braking, fatigue monitoring, rear view camera and front/rearpark sensors.
Based on our week-long test, the new A4 is a smooth, comfortable and engaging drive – even by prestige segment standards.