What’s it like to drive?

This particular version of the Audi A4 range has always perplexed me a bit. 

There’s another front-wheel drive model below it with a 1.4-litre turbo engine (with 110kW/250Nm), which I’ve driven and I liked quite a bit. And it costs about $5000 less than the non-Black Edition version of this grade.

Then there’s the model above it, which uses the same 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder but has quattro all-wheel drive and more power (185kW) and torque (370Nm). To me, that version is a lot more appealing, although it does cost about $8000 more.

The 2.0-litre in this version, with 140kW/320Nm, isn’t necessarily short of grunt, with Audi claiming a 0-100km/h acceleration time of 7.3 seconds. That’s not blistering, but it’s quick enough. 

At low speeds the engine and transmission can be a little slow to act, with some turbo lag and dual-clutch transmission hesitation to contend with, but you do get used to it. 

At higher speeds the gearshifts are clever and brilliantly slick, and the gearbox has a decoupling mode, which allows fuel saving because the transmission can be disengaged when you’re coasting down hills.

With the sports suspension and bigger wheels, the A4 was mostly comfortable when it came to handling inconsistencies in the road surface. (image credit: Matt Campbell) With the sports suspension and bigger wheels, the A4 was mostly comfortable when it came to handling inconsistencies in the road surface. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

Even with the sports suspension and bigger wheels with low-profile tyres, the A4 was mostly comfortable when it came to handling inconsistencies in the road surface. There was some twitching over mid-corner bumps, but it never got out of hand, and around town with five on-board I had to ensure I slowed down for speedhumps, as it could be a bit sharp. 

The steering isn’t as involving as a BMW 3 series, but it is light and easy to twirl, making for super easy low speed moves. At pace, there’s a reasonable amount of feel and feedback, but twister bends made for a little bit of understeer if you hit them with pace.

I didn’t particularly love the drive experience of this Audi A4, but nor did it upset me to any great degree. Sure, you get more handling purity in one of its rear-wheel drive competitors, but in regular day-to-day driving, it was decent. Just not overly exciting. 

To be honest, my biggest testing gremlins were multimedia based. I had a lot of trouble connecting and reconnecting via Bluetooth, with audio problems aplenty. Plus the CarPlay system – when paired with a rotary dial rather than a touchscreen – is beyond painful.

The CarPlay system, when paired with a rotary dial rather than a touchscreen is beyond painful. (image credit: Matt Campbell) The CarPlay system, when paired with a rotary dial rather than a touchscreen is beyond painful. (image credit: Matt Campbell)

It’s designed for a touchscreen, like a phone, strangely enough. That and the fact the screen looks out of date already, plus the reversing camera is pixelated… all of that let the drive experience down a bit. 



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