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Audi A4 2021 review

Is the "new" Audi A4 new enough to take on its German rivals?
EXPERT RATING
7.5
The new Audi A4 ups both the style and the substance on the model it replaces, but the battle for the premium shopper's dollar has never been more heated. Has it done enough to lure buyers from Benz and BMW? Let's find out.

It's easy to think SUVs have already consumed Australia's new-car market, but a deeper dive into the numbers throws up some surprising results for some brands.

Take Audi, for example. Yes, some 57 per cent of its sales are SUVs, and that's a lot. But that still leaves 43 per cent of its customers who are looking for something a little different.

Something like the new A4, perhaps. Available in sedan, wagon or a more off-road focused allroad body style, the just-refreshed A4 will give you just about everything but an SUV shape.

The question now is, is this plucky premium passenger car good enough to fight off the SUV hordes? Join me as we find out. 

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

The cheapest way into an A4 remains the 35 TFSI Sedan, which will set you back $55,900, while the more sport-and-style focused S line variant will cost you $59,900.

For that, you'll find LED headlights, 19-inch alloy wheels, a new 10.1-inch touchscreen that's Apple CarPlay and Android Auto equipped, a smart key with push-button start, leather trim, three-zone climate, standard navigation and a DAB+ digital radio.

The cheapest way into an A4 remains the 35 TFSI Sedan. The cheapest way into an A4 remains the 35 TFSI Sedan.

The S line version adds Audi's Virtual Cockpit (a 12.3-inch digital display that replaces the traditional driver's binnacle), as well as sportier exterior and interior styling, frameless mirrors and illuminated door sills.

The range then steps up to the A4 45 TFSI quattro S line, which is yours for $68,900 in sedan guise, or $71,400 for the Avant, or wagon. Both are S line only, so you get the sportier style, but you also build on the 35 TFSI S line's equipment list with a memory function for the driver's seat and a better Audi 10-speaker stereo.

The range then steps up to the A4 45 TFSI quattro S line, which is yours for $68,900 in sedan guise. The range then steps up to the A4 45 TFSI quattro S line, which is yours for $68,900 in sedan guise.

Finally, you can opt for the more off-road focused allroad, which is available with the 45 TFSI petrol engine ($72,900), or with a smaller diesel power plant ($69,900), bot of which are quattro AWD.

Both offer aluminium-look exterior highlights, roof rails and new front and rear bumpers, as well as a mite more off-road ability.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

It's undeniably handsome, the A4, in all of its guises. I have a particular soft spot for the stance of the sedan, but wagon lovers will find plenty to like about the Avant, too.

Ask Audi, and they'll tell you how this is a major design update for then A4 (albeit one that's arrived in the middle of its life, rather than for a whole new model), and how almost every exterior panel has been changed or altered. 

The reality, though, is it still looks like an A4, only now with a wider grille, and redesigned headlight and DRL clusters, both of which combine to give the muscular mid-sizer a lower, more athletic-looking front-end. 

It's undeniably handsome, the A4, in all of its guises. It's undeniably handsome, the A4, in all of its guises.

The sharp creases that flow down each flank give the side-view some clear definition, and I do particularly like the way those alloys fill the wheel arches, genuinely making the A4 look tough and purposeful.

The biggest change, though, is arguably reserved for the interior, where a new 10.1-inch screen takes pride of place in the dash. Audi says the new model offers 10 times the computing power of the outgoing model, owing mostly to connected car features including live traffic, weather reports and fuel pricing, as well as the ability to remote unlock or lock you car from your phone, or pre-plan destinations and send them to the vehicle's nav.

The biggest change is reserved for the interior, where a new 10.1-inch screen takes pride of place in the dash. The biggest change is reserved for the interior, where a new 10.1-inch screen takes pride of place in the dash.

Better still, it's a touch screen, which is eleventy-billion times easier to use than fiddling with the centre controls. In fact, it's so much easier that Audi has done away with them entirely, replacing them with extra storage in the centre console.

The flat-bottomed wheel feels great under touch, leather abounds, and the dash and centre console received lashing of metallic or carbon-fibre trim. 

The end result of all this is a clean and uncluttered interior space that feels very well screwed together, and rather premium.

19-inch alloys are standard across the range. 19-inch alloys are standard across the range.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

It all comes down to your body style, of course, but let's start with the sedan, shall we?

It stretches 4762mm in length, 1847mm in width and 1431mm in height, and will swallow 460 litres of luggage in its boot. 

There's enough room up front for two adults to never encroach on each other's territory. There's enough room up front for two adults to never encroach on each other's territory.

Those numbers translate to pretty spacious cabin, with enough room up front for two adults to never encroach on each other's territory, and enough room in the back for me (I'm 175cm) to sit behind my own driving position with clear air above my head and between my knees and the driver's seat in front. 

The Avant, or wagon, increases those dimensions to 4762mm x 1847mm x 1435mm, but also increases the cargo capacity to a considerable 495 litres with the rear seats in place, or 1495 litres with them folded flat. If yours is a life filled with kids' sport and weekends away, this is the model you want.

Backseat riders share two USB connection ports (as well as ISOFIX attachment points in each window seat). Backseat riders share two USB connection ports (as well as ISOFIX attachment points in each window seat).

Finally, the allroad measures in at an identical 4762mm in length, and will deliver the same luggage space as the wagon, but you do get a more off-road focused suspension setup, delivering an extra 46mm ground clearance, a wider track front and rear, and a unique "off road mode" that uses the cars many traction and braking controls to deliver more grip off road.

Elsewhere, you'll find a plethora of storage spaces, two cupholders up front, bottle holders in each of the doors, and a new cubby in the centre console, where the media controls once lived. 

Backseat riders share two USB connection ports (as well as ISOFIX attachment points in each window seat), while up-front riders get two of their own, as a 12-volt power source.

  • The sedan will swallow 460 litres of luggage in its boot.  The sedan will swallow 460 litres of luggage in its boot. 
  • The wagon increases the cargo capacity to a considerable 495 litres with the rear seats in place. The wagon increases the cargo capacity to a considerable 495 litres with the rear seats in place.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

Let's start with the 35 TFSI, which is home to a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine producing 110kW and 270Nm, and that is now paired with a 12V mild hybrid system that delivers fuel savings of up to 0.3 litres per hundred kilometres.

The 45 TFSI engine (pictured) is the same size as the 35 TFSI, but ups the grunt to 183kW and 370Nm. The 45 TFSI engine (pictured) is the same size as the 35 TFSI, but ups the grunt to 183kW and 370Nm.

That engine is paired with a seven-speed S tronic automatic, with power sent to the front wheels. Audi reckons it will knock off the sprint to 100km/h in 8.6 seconds on its way to a 224km/h limited top speed.

The 45 TFSI engine is the same size as the 35 TFSI, but ups the grunt to 183kW and 370Nm. It gets the same gearbox, and the same mild hybrid system, but because it's only offered with quattro, power is sent to all four wheels. Fittingly, there's a drop in the sprint time, now as low as 5.8 seconds, with the top speed increased to 250km/h.

Finally, the diesel, which is only offered in the allroad body style. The 40 TDI quattro squeezes 140kW and 400Nm from the it's 2.0-litre engine - enough to dispatch 100km/h in 7.9 seconds.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

The diesel is the most fuel-efficient option, sipping a claimed 5.2 litres per hundred kilometres on the combined cycle, while emitting 136g/km of C02.

The diesel is the most fuel-efficient option. The diesel is the most fuel-efficient option.

The smaller petrol will use 6.1 litres on the same cycle over the same distance, and expel 167g/km of C02, while the bigger petrol ups the fuel use to to 7.1 litres, but drops the C02 to 162g/km.

Fuel tank sizes vary from 54 litres for the petrol sedan, 61 litres for the diesel, and 58 litres for the petrol wagon.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

You can't help but feel for Audi when you first slink into the driver's seat of the A4 45 TFSI. In today's motoring world, there's a heap of pressure on car company's to deliver something special with each new vehicle - some scintillating wow factor - be it a door-to-door digital screen, rocket ship acceleration or game-changing cabin materials.

And if we're honest, the A4 doesn't really do any of that. Instead, it offers a comfortable, quiet, super-competent drive experience that delivers most everything you might expect from it, and then some.  

And while that might sound disappointing, here's the rub. Wow factor eventually fades, or the speeding tickets begin to pile up, and all you're really left with is how well a car goes about its day-to-day business, and it's here the A4 shines. 

The A4 offers a  comfortable, quiet, super-competent drive experience. The A4 offers a  comfortable, quiet, super-competent drive experience.

You'll notice I called out a particular engine at the start there, and that's because the 45 TFSI really is the pick of the bunch. It’s not that the engine is overly potent, it’s more that the power delivery feels perfectly matched to the vibe of the car - easy, plentiful, and hassle-free.

The entry-level petrol engine feels exactly that, like the entry-level choice. Perfectly capable at commuter speeds, but lacking in the fizz department should you find yourself on a winding road, and you do find yourself longing for more grunt as you exit a corner, especially heading up hill. 

Same, too, the diesel, which isn't underwhelming, but feels like a particular tool for a particular job, or for those wedded to the idea of a long-distance diesel engine. 

The drive experience is, in a word, very Audi. The drive experience is, in a word, very Audi.

But in the words of a particular fairytale heroine, the 45 TFSI quattro feels just right. And even the most prehistoric owner can’t complain about the hybrid tech here, either. It’s seriously unnoticeable, with the Audi behaving like any other turbocharged petrol engine should, only with the added benefit of saving a little fuel.

So, to the drive experience itself. It is, in a word, very Audi. The ride might lean to the firm side of comfortable occasionally, especially over harsher road imperfections, but the cabin is quiet, comfortable, and your forward momentum is effortless, with the steering and gearbox both performing their duties seamlessly.

So seamlessly, in fact, that it can feel a little disconnected. It will get you where you’re going in comfort and with ease, but it won’t necessarily stir the soul on the way. For that, you might have to spring for the incoming S4, due later this year. 

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

You can expect AEB with pedestrian detect, an exit warning system, lane change warning, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera - all of which contribute to the A4's five-star ANCAP safety rating.

The high-tech stuff joins the eight airbags (dual front, front side, side bags front and rear and curtains front and rear), but if you want more, you'll have to pay. 

Adaptive cruise control with Stop&Go, active lane assist, Audi pre-sense, Collision avoidance assist, high beam assist and turn assist all arrives as a package on the 35 TFSI, costing between $1900 and $2470.

The same kit, only with a head up display, park assist and a 360-degree camera will cost you between $2900 and $3770 on the 35 TFSI S line and 45 TFSI S line.

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

All Audi's are covered by a three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, with servicing required every 12 months or 15,000km.

You can pre-pay your service costs for three or five years, which will set you back $1710 or $2720 for petrol engines, or $2050 and $3190 for diesel engines.

All Audi's are covered by a three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. All Audi's are covered by a three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

Verdict

More style, and more substance, for Audi's updated A4 range. And a good thing, too. Competition is stiff at this end of the market. Happily, the changes haven't dampened the likability, and liveability, of the A4 one bit. 

EXPERT RATING
7.5
Price and features8
Design8
Practicality8
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption7
Driving8
Safety7
Ownership7
Andrew Chesterton
Contributing journalist

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Pricing Guide

$55,900

Lowest price, based on new car retail price

This price is subject to change closer to release data
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