Our car reviewer gives a first-hand account of what it’s like behind the wheel of the latest vehicles available in Singapore. No better way to kick off than with latest Audi A4, one of the country’s most popular European saloons.
One of the perks in my line of work is the opportunity to drive some of the nicest cars available in Singapore. It goes without saying that every time I pick up an Audi, the experience is invariably a good one.
The German brand has gone from strength to strength in the last decade or so, and their regular roll-out of new models has kept the auto scene on their toes trying to catch up. Yet, when they announced a new Audi A4 would be on the road soon, I wondered what they had up their sleeves. Needless to say, it piqued my curiosity.
In the auto industry, if you’re not moving ahead, you’re falling behind. Audi proclaims that the new A4 is “sportier and more modern” — right from the outset, I could hardly refute this declaration
SLEEK LINES, SPORTY DISPOSITION
The sleek lines of the new A4 are discernible. I found the sculpted crossbars on the single-frame grille sportier, giving the front a lower-slung disposition. The three-dimensional design of the rear was remarkably impressive. And the continuous chrome strip connecting the lights gave the whole section a more cohesive countenance, which I liked. The car comes with standard 17-inch wheels, which I found more than sufficient, and an option to upgrade to 19-inch ones.
Audi’s attention to luxurious detail in the interior never fails to leave a favourable mark on me. And though owners of recent models of the A4 may not find the latest iteration much different, it will certainly move the needle for drivers looking to buy their first Audi.
The whole sensation of being ensconced in the leather-bound seats, sound-proof environment, and array of visuals that surrounds the driver lets me know that I’m in a high-end, European car. As comfortable as the seats are, you can even opt for the Sport or Sport S options. I like the seat-position memory feature, especially in my household where there are several drivers of different physical proportions. I’ve always liked the Audi steering wheel, with its comprehensive control switches. You can further opt for a flat-bottom design if you feel it gives you a racier sensation, or if you’re just inclined to enjoy more room above your thighs.
I understand that, for motoring purists, a digital dashboard may be a no-no. But personally, I like it very much. With a press of a button, you can change what’s before you to show different pages of information. I always like to see where I’m going, so changing the dash to display a full navigational map is my preferred setting. Audi is known — to a fault sometimes! — for giving the driver so many display options that it may be a little confounding to navigate. The A4 does away with the superfluous, leaving a selection most drivers are likely to use on a daily basis.
Audi’s new MMI infotainment system is one of the most sophisticated available in any vehicle on the road here. I particularly like the fact that you can scribble a word on the touchscreen instead of using the keyboard to type out the name of a road. The predictive ability of the software is incredible and seldom misses a beat, even with my horrid handwriting.
Though I didn’t get a chance to use it, you can even control the system through voice commands. You can use phrases in everyday speech with this natural-language feature, and it should still return accurate responses. And if you are tech-savvy enough, the MyAudi app may be downloaded to your phone and you can check on the car’s status remotely.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
The proof of any new car pudding ultimately falls on how the vehicle performs on the road. On this front, the new Audi A4 did not disappoint.
The 2.0 TFSI engine variant is now enhanced by a mild hybrid system (MHEV) based on 12V to provide better fuel efficiency. Apart from a smoother ride through slower traffic, I found this to be pleasantly palpable when the car wakes up from its automatic cut-off mode at traffic lights to accelerate away. The transition is quicker and smoother than ever with the new model.
Hidden from view, Audi has incorporated a new technological feature that makes it even more fuel-efficient. The B-cycle combustion process, with a shortened compression stroke and a longer power stroke, is designed for a ‘part-load’ operation. What this does is provide you with greater fuel efficiency when the car is driven normally, like in the city, yet offers the dynamism and performance of a large engine when driven more sportily.
If you ask me, one of the most discerning characteristics of the new Audi A4 is the ride quality. The car glides through bumps and even humps like they weren’t even there, and cruising on the expressway is an effortless lark. There are five different drive modes from which to choose from: Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Efficiency and Individual. After trying them all, I have decided that I prefer the Individual mode, where I can choose Dynamic steering with Comfort suspension.
As four-door sedans go, the Audi A4 offers plenty of space both in the rear passenger compartment as well as the boot. Being 1.78m tall, I found that I had more than enough space between my knees and the front seats when seated at the back (behind the driver seat set to my proportions). And the ability to chuck my golf bag into the boot (with the longest club in it) without any exercise in contortion ticks the final box on my list for a high-end European sedan that is going for under $200K.
The new Audi A4 is available from Audi Singapore from S$182,540, inclusive of COE and VES.