Text: Jude Morte / Photos: Jude Morte, Audi press services | posted April 01, 2008 00:00
New (A4)ward movement
Billed as a 2009 model, the new A4 closely resembles its A5/S5 sports coupe sibling, especially at the front end. The austere Bauhaus-inspired lines of the previous model A4 remain, but more sinewy surfacing and edgy detailing give the new car a fresh, new appeal. The B8 (chassis code for the new A4) also looks expensive, with taut shut lines and neat details like LED running lights. Coming from the A4's first truly new platform (known as MLP or modular longitudinal platform) since 1995, it moves the engine 5.9 inches rearward by mounting the differential forward of the gearbox, allowing the center line of the front wheels to be relocated closer to the nose. This results in more balanced weight distribution, resulting to less mass leading the A4 through the corners by the nose.
Another illustration of the technical progress done with the B8 MLP is its rigidity, aerodynamic and loading efficiency. PGA Cars claims that the chassis is more rigid (thus being safer) than the previous A4, totes a drag coefficient of 0.27 (helping improve fuel consumption further due to less wind resistance) and carries a 480-liter trunk loading capability that is arguably bigger than that of the Teutonic compact premium sedans in existence.
In creating the interior, Audi has not overlooked what was arguably one of the outgoing A4's key selling points - supreme quality that makes more expensive cars look cheap by comparison. Few interiors - including the current BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes Benz C-Class - seem as well conceived and constructed.
The detailing is highly impressive, especially the controls for Audi's optional MMIS (Multi Media Interface System), which has a wide range of functions, including the sound system. The A4 also is available with an optional 505-watt Bang and Olufsen audio arrangement that feeds 10 channels of sound through no fewer than 14 speakers.
Despite growing in every vital dimension, the A4's high shoulder line and high dashboard provide it with a cosseting feel from the driver seat that reinforces the sporting aura. At the same time, it gains added seat and steering wheel adjustment, allowing you to tailor the driving position perfectly. Accommodation in the rear has been significantly improved by the new car's longer wheelbase and more efficient packaging of the rear seat.
While the previous model eventually blossomed into a car of true desirability for keen drivers, this new one manages to up the ante again with newfound levels of response, body control and fluency. Audi Drive Select, which allows the driver to choose between comfort and sport modes, makes a big contribution here.
The newfound driving response begins with Audi Dynamic Steering, which features a rack that is now mounted low in the front of the engine bay close to the front wheels, providing more direct steering action. The steering wheel goes from lock to lock in just 2.2 turns, so it responds to inputs quickly and relays information back from the ECU (electronic control unit with added clarity.
The Philippine market will receive two introductory A4 variants – a 1.8L four cylinder turbocharged fuel stratified injection (TFSI) version, and a 2.0L four cylinder turbodiesel injection model. The former (tagged at P 2.55 million) sports 158 hp and 250 NM of torque, and a six speed manual. The latter (tagged at P 2.68 million) has 141 hp and 320 NM of torque on tap, and comes in either a six speed manual or a six-speed continuously variable automatic transmission (with Multitronic and manual mode).
With the new A4, Ingolstadt (Audi's German headquarters) made sure that the A4 will more than hold its own against significantly better competition.