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Audi A4 2019 review: 45 TFSI

EXPERT RATING
7.5
With BMW's new 3 Series leaping into the ring like a crazed MMA fighter, the Audi A4 now has more to do in the executive mid-size segment. Is the mild 2019 update going to help?

Audi's A4 is one of those cars that everybody likes. Despite wearing a German badge, it doesn't feel the need to bellow about itself. If anything, the A4 is so subtle you have to check it's not either its smaller sibling the A3 or its larger one, the A6.

In 2019, the A4 has a bit of a blue on its hands - the new BMW 3 Series is a belter of a car. The rivalry is now freshly-fired, with the 3 lifting its game in every single area, including the interior. And the C-Class is still going strong.

The A4 isn't a whole new car, though, it's the mildest of mild refreshes of a model we've had here for just over three years.

Audi A4 2019: 45 TFSI QUATTRO S TRONIC SPORT
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency6.5L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$70,300

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

The A4 45 TFSI quattro S line is a fairly long name and, obviously, wants to give you an idea of exactly what kind of car it is. The 45 TFSI bit I'll explain in more detail later, but it means a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder, the quattro bit indicating it drives all four wheels and S line means some shiny wheels and other bits and bobs.

Starting at $70,300 before on-road costs, it's clearly head-to-head with the BMW 330i. Out of the box, you get 19-inch alloys, a 10-speaker stereo, three-zone climate control, reversing camera, keyless entry and start, a comprehensive safety package, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, the 'Virtual Cockpit', electric front seats, sat nav, auto LED headlights, auto wipers, leather trim, power everything and a space-saver spare.

Out of the box, you get 19-inch alloys. (image: Peter Anderson) Out of the box, you get 19-inch alloys. (image: Peter Anderson)

A 10.1-inch screen graces the dashboard and is controlled by a rotary dial on the console. Audi's 'MMI' system include Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (without any of BMW's subscription nonsense), DAB+, CD and DVD player. MMI is an excellent system and coupled with the digital dashboard Audi calls Virtual Cockpit, it's a bit sci-fi inside.

'Our' car had a bunch of individual options: sunroof ($2470), metallic paint ($1950), nappa leather ($1950 and very nice, if you must know), a colour lighting package ($520) privacy glass ($1105) and heated front seats ($780)

The $1300 S line Sport package switches the 19s for Audi Sport five-spoke design with titanium look, dashboard and headlining in black, various aluminium trim bits and perforated leather, sport front seats with Alcantara and leather and a flat-bottomed steering wheel.

It comes with auto LED headlights. (image: Peter Anderson) It comes with auto LED headlights. (image: Peter Anderson)

The $2470 'Assist Package' adds adaptive cruise with stop and go (it'll keep you moving in traffic semi-autonomously), active lane assist, pre-sense front (senses you're about to, or might, have a crash) collision avoidance assist, auto high beam and turn assist (tries to stop you turning across oncoming traffic).

The 'Parking Assistance Package' brings 360 degree cameras and auto parking for $1235.

The 'Technik Package' adds the excellent matrix LED headlights a Bang & Olufsen 3D Sound System and head-up display for $5600 - that's a fair bit, but the matrix LEDs tend to be very expensive on their own.

All of that adds up to a hefty $89,680 as tested.

The A4's interior is still top-notch despite BMW's excellent catch-up work and the C-Class's is still a bit gauche to my eyes. (image: Peter Anderson) The A4's interior is still top-notch despite BMW's excellent catch-up work and the C-Class's is still a bit gauche to my eyes. (image: Peter Anderson)

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

The update to the A4 hasn't changed much, so it's as it was - calm, cool and sophisticated. The new, wider grille is an improvement - when you see the two grilles side-by-side, the bigger one just looks better and the front and rear bumper detailing is different. Nothing major.

Current Audi design thinking is starting to carefully add curves, but the nearly four-year old design of the A4 is resolutely straight-edged.

I don't mind that, but if you're looking for a bit more 'look at me', you'll have to go to the S4 or RS4. Even S line doesn't do a huge amount to toughen up the A4's visual appeal apart from the very cool design of the new for this year Audi Sport wheels.

If you're looking for a bit more 'look at me', you'll have to go to the S4 or RS4. (image: Peter Anderson) If you're looking for a bit more 'look at me', you'll have to go to the S4 or RS4. (image: Peter Anderson)

Virtually nothing has changed inside, and that's not a drama at all. The A4's interior is still top-notch despite BMW's excellent catch-up work and the C-Class's is still a bit gauche to my eyes.

The horizontal themes and gentle stacking of visual elements is calming and the materials are superb. Run your finger along the climate controls and enjoy the visual and tactile quality. Just a little thing, yes, but it's a lovely cabin. The ambient lighting is also nifty if you have it fitted.

And I'm still a big fan of the jet-fighter style transmission selector.

Current Audi design thinking is starting to carefully add curves, but the nearly four-year old design of the A4 is resolutely straight-edged. (image: Peter Anderson) Current Audi design thinking is starting to carefully add curves, but the nearly four-year old design of the A4 is resolutely straight-edged. (image: Peter Anderson)

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

As a mid-size sedan, it's not especially roomy, but is fine for four adults. The rear seats are comfortable with decent head and legroom, but you won't want to be much taller than six feet before you'll feel the pinch. Having your own climate control zone in the back is rather nice, though.

There are two cupholders in the front and another pair in the rear, and each door will hold a modestly-sized bottle.

  • Like all the mid-size German sedans, the boot is a suspiciously uniform 480 litres. (image: Peter Anderson) Like all the mid-size German sedans, the boot is a suspiciously uniform 480 litres. (image: Peter Anderson)
  • The boot is a usefully clean shape. (image: Peter Anderson) The boot is a usefully clean shape. (image: Peter Anderson)

The centre console is relatively shallow and topped by an armrest and that's where the USB ports are to connect your phone to the MMI.

The glove box is cooled, so it's a good place to keep your Mars bars, I guess.

Like all the mid-size German sedans, the boot is a suspiciously uniform 480 litres (I'm guessing it's probably more than that) and is a usefully clean shape.

As a mid-size sedan, it's not especially roomy, but is fine for four adults. (image: Peter Anderson) As a mid-size sedan, it's not especially roomy, but is fine for four adults. (image: Peter Anderson)

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

The A4 45 TFSI translates to Audi's 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo developing a not inconsiderable 185kW/370Nm.

Using Audi's seven-speed dual-clutch auto transmission, all that heads to all four wheels through the company's famed quattro system. You'll see the ton in just 5.8 seconds.

The A4 45 TFSI translates to Audi's 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo developing a not inconsiderable 185kW/370Nm. (image: Peter Anderson) The A4 45 TFSI translates to Audi's 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo developing a not inconsiderable 185kW/370Nm. (image: Peter Anderson)

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

The official combined cycle figure is listed at 6.5L/100km, and do you know what? I reckon you could get pretty damn close to that.

My week was almost exactly 50 per cent highway and 50 per cent urban battling and the outcome was an indicated 7.7L/100km.

If some of it had been of a less enthusiastic nature, I'm confident that number would have dipped under 7.0L/100km. Not bad.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The A4 ships with eight airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, blind spot sensors, brake assist, rear cross traffic alert, exit warning, active safety bonnet, driver attention detection and brake force distribution.

There are also three top-tether anchors across the back seat and two ISOFIX points.

The A4 scored a maximum five ANCAP stars, the highest available, in February, 2016. This car had a few extras and all were welcome, but had no effect on the ANCAP rating.

It has a space-saver spare. (image: Peter Anderson) It has a space-saver spare. (image: Peter Anderson)

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Audi is stubbornly sticking with a segment-competitive three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty and chucks in roadside assist for the same period.

If you keep servicing your car at an Audi dealer, you get another 12 months of roadside with every service.

Audi likes you to return to the dealer every 12 months or 15,000km and you can either take your chances on the day or pre-pay up to three years/45,000km of servicing for $1710 or five years for $2700.

As you can see, the longer plan is better value for money (both are substantially cheaper than the diesel service plan).

What's it like to drive?   7/10

I had forgotten how quiet and smooth the A4 is. It may be that this mild 2019 update has further suppressed pretty much every sound, making this cabin the calmest in the class.

The A4 took us up to the Blue Mountains in virtual silence, only the garbage surface of Sydney's appalling M4 motorway ruffled the interior calm.

On that same motorway is one of the laziest pieces of road engineering, a join to a bridge that can sometimes be a bit hair-raising in softly-sprung cars and downright insulting in stiffer cars.

It's a pretty suave, elegant looking thing and that philosophy extends to the technology and the drive experience. (image: Peter Anderson) It's a pretty suave, elegant looking thing and that philosophy extends to the technology and the drive experience. (image: Peter Anderson)

The A4 handled the resultant heave with exceptional ease and comfort, but watching the other cars ahead was as amusing/terrifying as ever. It made me appreciate how well sorted the A4's springs and dampers are.

And the same impression came from winding our way up the Great Western Highway to Katoomba, with its variety of surfaces, corner types and inclines.

The body control is impressive but the ride is super-refined, remarkable given the huge 19-inch wheels.

The 2.0-lite TFSI is impressive in just about any Audi it's installed in, and in this latest A4 it's even quieter and more remote. The stop-start is unobtrusive and as you cruise to a stop cuts out at higher speeds than most.

The 2019 Audi A4 is a classic case of failing to break something that wasn't broken. (image: Peter Anderson) The 2019 Audi A4 is a classic case of failing to break something that wasn't broken. (image: Peter Anderson)

There is little to complain about - while the steering is certainly a big improvement over the previous (B8) A4, it can feel a little artificial and light.

The quattro drivetrain is entirely fuss-free but does take the edge off the handling, especially relative to the more natural steering feel of the 3 Series.

Not everyone's worried about that sort of thing, and that's perfectly reasonable.

Verdict

The 2019 Audi A4 is a classic case of failing to break something that wasn't broken. It's a pretty suave, elegant looking thing and that philosophy extends to the technology and the drive experience. It's such an easy to car to look at, live with and drive.

At this price point, you probably want a car to move your heart a bit, and that's where the A4 might fall short for some. But it's awesomely comfortable, quiet and powerful, shrugging off whatever you can throw at it.

It stands apart from its rear-wheel drive rivals with its quattro all-wheel drive and the elegance of its design.

Does the A4 have what it takes to combat the resurgent 3 Series? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$65,700
Based on Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)
Lowest Price
$56,100
Highest Price
$75,300

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
1.4 TFSI S TRONIC S LINE 1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $56,100 2019 Audi A4 2019 1.4 TFSI S TRONIC S LINE Pricing and Specs
2.0 TDI QUATTRO S TRONIC SLINE 2.0L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO $67,300 2019 Audi A4 2019 2.0 TDI QUATTRO S TRONIC SLINE Pricing and Specs
2.0 TFSI QTTRO S TRONIC BLK ED 2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $72,300 2019 Audi A4 2019 2.0 TFSI QTTRO S TRONIC BLK ED Pricing and Specs
2.0 TFSI QUATTRO S TRONIC S LN 2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $70,300 2019 Audi A4 2019 2.0 TFSI QUATTRO S TRONIC S LN Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.5
Price and features7
Design8
Practicality7
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption8
Safety8
Ownership7
Driving7
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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Pricing Guide

$70,300

Lowest price, based on new car retail price

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