Launch Drive: New Audi A4 B9 (2016) in SA
The launch of the new Audi A4 2016 is very important for the brand since the car is a volume seller in the Audi stable. In the South African automotive landscape, competition is very high within the D-Segment vehicles and the most popular cars in this segment are made up of what people like to refer to as the “big three” which is BMW’s 3 Series, Mercedes’ C-Class and Audi’s A4.
The A4 is the last to be updated between the three as BMW’s and Mercedes’ models are two to three years old already. Now is the time for Audi’s A4 to shine, after seven years in production, the B8 model is now a thing of the past and the new B9 is here to shake things up. The question is, will it be able to hold its own up against the ever so popular BMW and the ever so classy Mercedes-Benz? What has changed?
From the outside looking in, the new 2016 Audi A4 keeps very similar lines to the previous model, with the most notable change being in the front and rear end of the car. Sharp clean lines are prominent in the design and the car looks clinically beautiful in the typical Audi understated way. Packaging wise, customers have three options, a standard model, the “Design Line” and the “Sport Line”. The visual differentiators are not large but the handling characteristics of the car change according to the package chosen, with the “Sport Line” having the firmest and most dynamic suspension.
Under the bonnet is where you see the progress made in the new Audi A4. The previous generation featured a 1.8 litre turbocharged engine with 118kW, yet the new entry level is a 1.4 litre turbocharged engine which makes 110kW/250Nm. Due to smarter construction methods and materials, the new car is lighter than the car it replaces so the power to weight ratio is very similar… if not better.
The 2.0 litre turbocharged version remains, this time featuring 140kW/320Nm. The figures for both engines may sound very conservative for a car of this class, but the way the car performs in either 1.4l or 2.0l guise tells a totally different story. The powertrain is incredibly refined , giving you a very rich experience behind the wheel. The new Audi A4 is also very dynamically intuitive and allows the driver to exploit the cars capabilities as we did around various mountain passes in the Western Cape of South Africa.
The comfort levels of the new Audi A4 are of the highest standard, add that to the state of the art technology in the car and you soon realise that Audi have outdone themselves with this new A4. The dated nature we had in the old car is gone, this is no mere face-lift, it’s a new car. Sitting inside, one is reminded of the new Q7 in terms of interior design but a fixed infotainment screen was chosen over the pop-up found in the Q7.
A selection of media, vehicle information and optional navigation can be fiddled with through Audi’s MMI infotainment system. The most impressive technological feature in the new A4 has got to be the optional Virtual cockpit which displays various features through the digital dashboard. A personal favourite of ours was the full screen navigation option available on the cockpit which aids driver focus on long journeys. The technological features don’t end there, standard safety technologies include Presence City, secondary collision brake assist and the adjustable restraint system.
There is no argument that the new Audi A4 is a beautifully designed vehicle which is more efficient and dynamically capable than the car it replaces. No one can question the abilities of this vehicle, the potential problem lies in the perception of the Audi A4 in South Africa. The BMW 3 Series comes with a cult following and so does the Mercedes C-Class. Brand loyalty will be a very big determining factor for the sales on the new A4… but this is so much rewarding in the long run with everything we’ve grown to love about Audi in the last five years perfectly channeled into one car.
A 2.0 litre diesel derivative is on the way as well as a more powerful 185 kW 2.0 litre turbo, so this will do well to increase the portfolio of the model. The future looks bright for the Audi and helped by sharp pricing, the new A4 has set a new standard for the brand in this segment.
- 1.4 T FSI manual: R441,000
- 1.4 T FSI S-Tronic: R459,000
- 1.4 T FSI S Tronic Sport: R492,000
- 1.4 T FSI S Tronic Design: R488,000
- 2.0 T FSI S Tronic : R496,000
- 2.0 T FSI S Tronic Sport: R517,000
- 2.0 T FSI S Tronic Design: R513,000
- 2.0 TDI Base S Tronic : R517,000
- 2.0 TDI S Tronic Sport: R538,000
- 2.0 TDI S Tronic Design : R534,000