Audi's petrol A4 didn't quite cut it in the engine department. However, its new, smarter and more powerful diesel version, holds a lot more promise
Diesel power is a genuine thing. It has consequences, but so do all fossil fuels. Petrol may be refined and the engine may rev higher, but when it comes to lugging people around and building up a reputation for offering strong bottom- and mid-range oomph, diesel has proved to be the fuel of choice for many. Of course, price plays a huge role here. Even if the difference is marginal, most people choose the one that costs less. Although the gap in the pricing of petrol and diesel is narrowing, there are more than a few reasons why people choose one over the other.
So, yes, the diesel A4 in its B9 generation has arrived. Sharp, chromed and sparkling with revitalised charisma, the A4 '35 TDI' stood gleaming in the morning sun. It's a handsome car, with the standout design elements complementing the smooth flowing lines. The build process has also been optimised to improve aero efficiency as well as reduce weight.
Aluminium and walnut trim accentuates the tasteful interior. Pics/Saurabh Botre
Inside, the light-themed interior lends the cabin a spacious feel with the quality of fit and finish adding to the air of quality. The hexagonal shape of the grille is mirrored in the steering wheel garnish. The front seats are comfortable and offer good ergonomics and support. The Audi Virtual Cockpit is standard kit and is one of the most interesting elements in the car, making it seem years ahead of the competition. The configurable display shows the usual setup of dials, albeit in their digital forms, with the maps for navigation getting priority whenever needed. That makes it much easier to spot and means it's less distracting for the driver. The MMI Touch, Smartphone Interface and three-zone climate control add to the feel-good factor.
Virtual cockpit is a boon when on the move
The rear is not the best in class room-wise, but it is extremely pampering once you settle in. Should it be used as a chauffeured car, moving the front passenger seat forward liberates more than adequate room. There's a centre armrest and rear air vents that do a good job of maintaining the cool. It does make for a good business saloon, and that's because Audi has given it just what a luxury sedan customer would ideally be looking for.
More potent 190 PS version of the 2.0-litre TDI engine arrives
At the heart is an upgraded 2.0-litre in-line four turbo-diesel that now makes 190 PS and 400 Nm. The new A4, like its petrol counterpart, ditches the old Multitronic CVT for the exceptional seven-speed twin-clutch automatic S tronic, driving the front wheels. The new A4 TDI also weighs just 1,480 kg, giving it a healthy power-to-weight ratio of 128 PS/tonne. The acceleration shows it's just as quick as any would expect, with a sub-nine-second 0-100 km/h time and a claimed top speed of 237 km/h. It picks up well and carries the speed through the seamless gearshifts with one clutch keeping the next ratio ready to go while the other clutch disengages the previous one.
And it's very business sedan-like all the way. Be it hard acceleration during an overtake, where it rolls from 40 km/h to 80 km/h in just 3.3 seconds, or urgent braking, where it gets from 80 km/h to standstill in 2.2 seconds over just 24 metres. The suspension, though on the softer side, soaks up bumps well without compromising on handling and agility. The feel of the package sums up Audi's approach to car-making with everyday use compact dimensions in mind. Everything - from the way your senses respond when you grasp the steering wheel and gear lever to how the steering feels and responds to input - speaks volumes about the levels of balance and consistency they have achieved.
On the corners, the grip level is admirable. With 225/50 R17 rubber, there is no shortage of road-holding across varying surfaces. The A4 mixes frugal practicality with satisfying driving dynamics, whenever either is called upon. Let's not forget the old 2.7-litre V6 also made 190 PS and 400 Nm - this 2.0 four-pot manages identical figures with 27 per cent less displacement. It also manages up to 19 km/l on the highway and close to 14 km/l overall.
At Rs 43.69 lakh (ex-showroom), it's not a bad deal at all. It's definitive modern and contemporary on wheels, and it feels like it. Diesel, tidied up, seemingly.