BEHIND THE WHEEL: Audi A4 35 Sline
MONDAY OCTOBER 11, 2021
Take the drive out of the journey. Fuel efficiency is of the utmost importance. The badge and it must look expensive. The people have spoken, car manufacturers have delivered because it is not profitable to make cars to please a small number of people called the enthusiasts.
If you want to buy an executive sedan ten years ago, you get three different offerings from Germany. Into driving? The BMW is for you. Into comfort? It’s the Mercedes. The happy middle, then it’s the Audi. Today, you get similar things from these three manufacturers so is this A4 the one to get?
Traction when damp
Off the line refinement
0-100 km/h: 8.5 s
This is the budget focused 35 TFSI S-line with only the essentials specified. Assistant Package which brings adaptive cruise, lane departure and automatic headlight dipping. 19" wheels, metallic paint, keyless entry, heated front seats, Qi phone charger and a sunroof. These add $8,300 to its price, before negotiations of course.
Man.. it is a good feeling to be in a lower riding car and there’s a good amount of space inside. Like the Q2, only the fronts are powered. While that made the Q fun, it does not here.
So long the surface is damped, the wheels just slip which is surprising because this A4 wears grade W double A traction tyres. Although wheel spin is reduced when in Dynamic mode, you also get a numb heavy steering and the gearbox that holds the revs. So it is best to go into Individual mode with steering set to comfort and leave the rest on Auto then we are back with wheels slippage hence Quattro is highly recommended for this application thanks to rainy days.
Outside Dynamic mode, the gearbox wants to occupy the tallest gear or coast as frequently as possible making it indecisive when throttle is applied. On top of that, it reacts to paddle inputs extremely slowly which makes them more of a garnish than anything because they do not bring joy. This S tronic box is a similar one to the Q2 but behaves very differently in this tune.
Moving on to the A4’s standard audio, they sound anaemic. One must really not care for music to have stuck with these 8 loudspeakers. Sure you can turn it off then unpleasant engine sounds can be heard which we shall get to.
Vibrations from the motor can be felt at idle which is unusual in an Audi because they tend to make cars that are quiet and refined. That said, passengers are well insulated from the outside world. My experience got worse because the 35 TFSI doesn’t like getting off the line as it was always juddery. It was so alarming where I stopped by the road, walked around the car and did a Google search to make sure a diesel model wasn’t sent by mistake.
Well, it wasn’t a mistake. Maybe a better balancing shaft is direly needed, consult an automotive engineer to be sure. Furthermore, the car provided only had 6500 kilometres on the clock, someone must have been doing some abusing otherwise it has been so far so disappointing.
Standard infotainment is quick enough to respond and voice command got my input right all of the time which is astonishing. Carplay/Android Auto comes as standard. I don’t miss an all-screen digital cockpit because these multi layered analogue gauges are perfectly fine.
Lane keep assistance wasn't annoying but still had it turned off when driving round the bends. Adaptive cruise works well, brings the car to a stop and resumes afterwards. After a day of normal driving around B roads, it averaged 7.2l/100km which is nothing to shout about, nonetheless decent. The standard seats are supportive up to 4 hours of driving, a better one will certainly be appreciated. Finally, the passive dampers coupled to these relatively large wheels do an above average job on most surfaces.
The strongest point of the B9 Audi A4 is how it looks. To my eyes at least, it looks well proportioned throughout and is really handsome with the S line treatment. Ultimately this is not aimed at me so if a regular sedan that looks good is on top of your list, the A4 should be under your consideration. Just go straight for a 45 TFSI quattro, tick the Technik and assistant package to avoid the misery I was put through.