Tag: New Audi

Doing nothing in the Audi A4…

If someone were to ask me how I would sum up an Audi A4, I would use one word – sensible. The applies to all the generations of the vehicle, including the newest iteration that Audi South Africa loaned us for the December holidays. We at TheMotorist have been very fortunate to sample many of the Volkswagen Group’s vehicles over an extended period. Normally these periods include long drives to the coast, frequent excursions to popular areas and many selfies. 2020 however, proved to be very different as the world has been and still is going through a pandemic. As a result, our German steed had the fun task of parking at either my home, or my brother’s home five kilometres away. What would have been hundreds of kilometres on the road ended up being nearby shopping runs, dinner outings and the usual “staycation” activities that are involved when trying to avoid getting infected by a potentially deadly virus.

To call a spade a spade, it’s rather unfortunate that our 40TFSI A4 with all its bells and whistles didn’t get the attention it deserved. However this situation did allow us to put on our “consumer hat” and evaluate this vehicle from a consumers perspective. Often times us journalists make the mistake of judging a vehicle as a petrol-head, forgetting that for most, a vehicle needs to do the normal stuff very well too – something a number of performance vehicles struggle to do. Speed, style and flair often wow us to write sterling reviews of a vehicle. The reality is that majority of buyers need a vehicle that makes sense in many ways, something the new Audi A4 seems to have nailed on many counts. Let me tell you why…

Looking at the updated A4 will not evoke heart-racing emotion, unless you have a thing for understated sedans. The overall design of the car remains largely similar too, with the modernisation of the front and rear bumpers, as well as the headlights being the main changes. The vehicle remains good looking and in the specification we tested, the larger wheels make the design “pop” more. What stands out in the outward appearance of the vehicle is the LED lighting system, with the rear lights being my favourite. Audi have always had a strong lighting game and it’s great to see the A4 get the lighting design treatment you’d expect in an A6 or even the ever so rare Audi A8. So outwardly, the A4 is pretty enough to be admired briefly but it also blends in on the road, quietly going about its day, not drawing too much attention to the driver – something that can be appreciated by a number of motorists.

Where the new A4 comes into its own is on the inside. Finished in a light grey leather, the interior of this specific vehicle was top class. Minimalistic, vast and very modern are the words that one can use to describe the A4 on the inside. Oh and the build quality is great too. My wife, a non-petrol head kept commenting about how she enjoyed being inside this vehicle, with its comfort being the winning attribute for her, but we’ll touch on that shortly. At the virtual launch of the updated A4, Audi South Africa emphasised the new connected services, now on offer in the updated A4 through the myAudi app. The technology in this car is what they’re most proud of, which is interesting as face-lifts are usually about the exterior changes. This time around, Audi is talking directly to a tech-focused audience. The app is impressive as it allows you to lock the vehicle remotely, check how much fuel you have, find the vehicle in a car park and then some.

My favourite feature was the ability to search for a specific location on the app and then send the location to the vehicle, which lessens the time it takes sitting in the vehicle and setting up your next stop on apps such as Waze and Google Maps. Being in South Africa, you don’t want to be sitting in an idling vehicle, looking down on your phone, as that is when you can potentially be affected by crime. All in all the features of the app are useful, but I fear that other systems such as Apple CarPlay could steal the limelight from the myAudi app as nothing is more simpler than simply plugging in your phone and mirroring your smartphone – something our December A4 did as it was fitted with the Technology package. That meant that we had the awesome Virtual Cockpit, which fully digitises your instrument cluster, allowing you to mirror customised information onto your dashboard. A must in our opinion.

Another feature we felt was a must in the A4, was the upgraded sound system. Listen, R17 200 is not cheap but you’ll kick yourself if you don’t do it because the Bang & Olufsen setup is brilliant. Every dance song was a party, every vocal sounded like a concert and the bass on offer was perfect for any Amapiano song. Interestingly, if you switched the radio off, you’d be surprised at how quiet the A4 was. That is what Audi has done really well with this update. The A4 felt very refined behind the wheel. My wife’s praise was warranted as this was one comfortable sedan. Despite it riding on optional 19 inch wheels, it glided through the quiet streets of Joburg gracefully. Personally, I felt our model was riding a smidge too high. The clearance between the wheels and the wheel arches seemed to large. But obviously there’s reasoning as to why the vehicle is set up like this and judging by the ride quality, I can understand why.  

Our vehicle was equipped with the tried and tested 2.0 TFSI engine that has done the rounds at both Audi and Volkswagen for many years. This specific engine produced 140kW/320Nm and was good for a 0-100km/h sprint of 7.3 seconds. Truthfully, you don’t jump into an A4 with the mindset of racing around town. As a result, the power delivered by this vehicle is just enough for what most people will use it for. Consumers will be more enthralled by the 7-speed S tronic gearbox that changes gears quieter than a child stealing sweets from the pantry. The overall driving experience is what you would expect from a vehicle such as this, again there’s a strong feeling of sensibility in the way this car does things. It almost feels like the A4 is not looking to compete with the sporty characteristics of the likes of a BMW 3 Series or a Mercedes C-Class. The A4 feels like it’s doing its own thing.

After four weeks in this vehicle, myself and fellow motorist Richard understood why the A4 exists and why it is still seen on the road today, despite it not being the “star” of the segment. You see at standard price of R726 500, the A4 is not cheap. Our model came in at a whopping R920 200. This is a lot of money and one could justify that there are other Audi models that a customer could buy for the same amount of money, especially in the pre-owned market. But that’s the thing, the A4 is not for those looking for thrills, it’s not a vehicle aimed at die-hard petrol heads. It’s a vehicle for consumers who want to commute quietly, in style and luxury. It’s for a consumer who wants a vehicle that simply makes sense and for many, the Audi A4 is just that. Good sense. Spending our time in this model for a month doing “nothing” allowed us to take a break from being a journalist and rather look at things from a consumer perspective. Now each time I see an A4 on the road, I think to myself, that’s a well to do person who wanted a vehicle that simply makes sense. A vehicle that will most likely be kept for a long period of time, until a new A4 arrives. Question is, are you that consumer?

Good Made Better: Audi’s New A3 Range Updated

Good made better: Audi’s new A3 range updated.

If you stood next to the first generation Audi A3, you would be shocked to know that it was introduced to the market nearly twenty years ago. Yes, it’s been almost two decades, and it’s been an excellent run for the brand. Locally, a total 51 400 units have seen themselves into the homes of new owners. The car has also grown from the simple days of the 90’s to a very refined product. The A3’s refinement has been its major selling point for years now. With competitor brands marketing a more sporty persona and others selling a more “people’s car”, the Audi has always retained a certain level of class. That class though has often made the brand seem a bit blander compared to similar products. For those who have driven Audi’s though, they tend to stick with the brand for a very long time. The question is why?

We had the opportunity to answer that question for ourselves when we were reacquainted with the latest iteration of the A3 hatchback and sedan. Subtle changes make for a more streamlined look,  but the same shape remains. New front headlights and taillights make the car look modern, and its refreshed looks are welcome as this segment is very competitive.

audi-a3_0004_1800x1800

Internal changes: The most notable changes in the new A3 range are the engines which have been overhauled to produce more power and be more fuel efficient. Naturally, petrol-heads will gravitate toward the 228kW Audi S3 but more on that later in another article. What interested us most was the entry model to the range, which now has a 1.0 TFSI three-cylinder engine powering it. With 85kW and 200Nm, the baby A3 offers enough torque to drive happily. For any city dweller, this configuration makes the world of sense.

On the other hand, if you’re worried that the 1.0 litre is too small you can have the 1.4 TFSI with features 110kW and 250Nm. Again if you feel that configuration is too little power, you can then have the 2.0 TFSI which shares the same power output of the new A4 at 140kW and 320Nm. A personal favourite of ours was the 2.0 TDI variant which only has 103kW but features 340Nm; that surges you wherever you need to go. It also only consumes 4.5 litres/ 100km on average while doing so.

audi-a3_0043_1800x1800

Comfort throughout: Whatever A3 hatchback, Sportback or sedan you choose, you’ll be happy to know that the entire range feels as solid as Audi’s reputation. There’s a distinct level of silence that you experience while driving the new A3 and it creates a rather soothing feeling. The standard dynamic suspension does well to soak up bumps while not also feeling to “couchy” on the road. The interior may not be the most inspiring to sit in, but it cannot be faulted in terms of quality.

There is a wide array of options to choose from, but many features come as standard on each model.  Things such as Xenon headlights, cruise control and Audi’s MMI plus system are features that you don’t have to pay for.  The most notable new feature in the updated A3 range is the option of Virtual Cockpit, something we have all loved to use in the A4 and Q7. This digital dashboard is probably the most intuitive system out there and it’s a “must have”  for any tech-loving driver. If you want to make your Audi A3 more visually appealing too, you’ll be happy to know that you can still specify your car with the S-Line package which gives it a more aggressive look and some larger wheels.

a161874_large-1_1800x1800

To answer why many Audi drivers remain loyal to the brand. We personally believe that it’s about assurance. Yes, excitement is great and it always nice to drive something that sets your hair on fire. The reality though is that our day to day lives are not exciting unless you’re a race car driver. What Audi offers then is the option of excitement in cars like the S3 and RS3, but for the everyday person the updated A3 is a car you would love to wake up to every day and live your life.