Extensive changes bring new engines, new digital features and new looks to the most popular Audi model
SINGAPORE — Two new Audi A4 variants made their online debut in Singapore yesterday, with a third set to follow by the end of the year.
Both have a 2.0-litre TFSI engine with a seven-speed, twin-clutch S tronic transmission sending power to the front wheels. And virtual launch notwithstanding, both are in showrooms here.
The Audi A4 range in Singapore kicks off with a 35 TFSI S tronic variant for S$182,540. A slightly plusher, more powerful version called the A4 advanced 40 TFSI S tronic costs S$192,490. Both prices include a certificate of entitlement but are before you load up on options.
We’ve driven the new A4, when our mumbling chief ed (the gargoyle above) went balls-out in Bolzano to drive a 190 horsepower version of the car a year ago. You can read his report here, but meanwhile we’ve got details of the 2020 Audi A4 as sold in Singapore.
Although a facelifted version of the current B9 model generation, the new A4 has undergone plenty of change to keep it fresh in the face of strong competition, like BMW’s 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. It’s been Audi’s global best-seller so it’s a vital car for the brand; the A4 has managed to find more than 10 million buyers so far.
Much of the revamp is aimed at drawing links between the A4 and more expensive models from Audi, such as the larger A6 or even the flagship A8, but there’s plenty new under the bonnet and inside the cabin.
What’s new about the Audi A4?
Cosmetically? A lot. Designers must have plenty of clout at Audi, because most of the A4’s body panels are new. That costs a lot of money in tooling for metal stamping.
The bonnet, roof and boot are carried over, but everything else is new. It has new full LED headlights and a wider grille to give the front end a broader stance. Larger air scoops in the front bumper add visual aggression, too.
New taillamps grace the rear, with a strip of chrome to link them on cars that don’t have the optional black trim. Here’s what it looks like:
Again, the intention is to make the car look wider. Car designers are currently falling over themselves to visually broaden their products, hoping that a wide stance will help create a more imposing presence on the road.
Perhaps the most interesting new styling feature on the A4 is a sort of double-crease that runs along the sides of the car, starting from the edge of the headlights.
That helps to visually elongate the car, and it draws the eye lower to take attention from the glass area to the body itself. If you’re going to spend big money shaping new body panels, you might as well make it count.
How much horsepower does the new Audi A4 have?
In Singapore, the 2.0 TFSI engine is tuned for either 150 horsepower or 190hp. Later in the year there’ll be a 249hp option that also comes with quattro, Audi’s all wheel-drive system.
Audi says both are tuned for exceptional fuel economy, and they both add mild hybrid drive to the car. That involves a 12 volt lithium battery (alongside a normal car battery) that stores energy during deceleration. It feeds it back into a starter-generator that can give the engine a bit of extra oomph. It’s also more powerful than a normal starter motor, so it wakes up the Audi’s engine far more smoothly, which in turn allows extended shutdown (say, when you’re coasting on the highway).
Power from the lithium pack can also drive ancillaries (such as lights or pumps) when the car’s engine is shut down.
The A4 engines also run on Audi’s “B-cycle” combustion process, which plays with valve timing and compression ratios to boost efficiency. The combined cycle for fuel economy testing rates the A4 35 TFSI and 40 TFSI at 6.1L/100km and 6.3L/100km respectively, which is admirably frugal.
We once drove an A4 2.0 TFSI to Genting Highlands and back on 4.3L/100km, so the new A4 replaces an already economical car.
But if scorching tarmac concerns you more, the A4 is fairly willing. 0 to 100km/h takes 8.9 seconds in the A4 35 TFSI. 150hp might not sound like much for a 2.0-litre turbo, but the engine produces 270 Newton-metres of torque at just 1,350rpm, so it should feel like a lively car. The power peak actually arrives at just 3,900rpm, so you never have to rev the engine hard.
If you’re in a hurry, the A4 advance 40 TFSI has 320Nm of pulling power, and it hits 100km/h in 7.3 seconds.
What’s new inside?
Audi was early to the game with full digital instruments, and in Singapore the Virtual Cockpit Plus system is standard issue. That means the driver has a configurable 12.3-inch screen for the main displays behind the steering wheel.
The infotainment system (MMI Navigation Plus, if you want Audi’s name for it) has a 10.1 touchscreen. It recognises fingertip handwriting and voice commands, and Audi says its understanding of natural language is better than ever.
Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, and like other current Audi models, such as the new Q3 and Q3 Sportback, the A4 comes with Audi Connect.
That uses an internet connection to enable a number of things through the myAudi companion app: you can send a destination from phone to car, lock or unlock the doors remotely, track the car’s location, set up geofencing alerts and so on.
The web connection helps to make the navigation system smarter, too. “Imagine this: You’re heading out for lunch, and you’ve got to find out quite quickly if the restaurant of your choice is open, has got good reviews and if parking is available during peak lunch hour traffic,” Rudi Venter, the marketing manager for Audi Singapore, said in the car’s launch video.
The system lets you search all of the above seamlessly before the navigation takes you to the restaurant, he said. Cleverly, it can take into account current traffic conditions and plot a route that doesn’t plonk you in the middle of a jam.
Having worked hard to give the A4 a new body, Audi has been just as focused on updating its brains.
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