A 2.0-litre with 1.4-litre economy? How the new Audi A4 2.0 makes smaller engines irrelevant
Audi has made smaller engines obsolete. At least when it comes to its small executive sedan, the A4.
Replacing the least expensive variant for one with a bigger engine seems illogical for maximising sales, but that’s what Audi has done here.
After all it’s common sense that a bigger engine means more fuel consumption, but Audi’s s new A4 2.0 actually has the same small appetite for liquefied dinosaur as the A4 1.4.
And, Audi says, their costs would have been around the same in the end after rebates and VES. So, more power and torque, same efficiency and price tag, customers only stand to gain.
So no surprise the 2.0 now is the entry-level model in the A4 range, above it sits the 252hp 2.0-litre with quattro all-wheel drive, and the 354hp S4.
The kicker here is the 2.0-litre engine. It’s an evolution of the EA888 we all know and love, now in its ‘3B’ iteration, and one of Audi’s efficiency flagbearers besides the cylinder-deactivation equipped 1.4-litre. First appearing on the A5 coupe, it uses modified Miller cycle operation (called B-cycle) for improved efficiency.
Like Toyota’s Atkinson cycle hybrid engines – and also seen on its Lexus IS Turbo – it uses judicious opening and closing of the valves to simulate the operation of a smaller, less powerful engine.
But like other cars, the engine operation is part of a combined effort at fuel saving – in th A4 this includes start-stop, dual-clutch gearbox, weight reduction, ‘Efficiency’ drive mode with coasting – all of which add up to a significant amount.
That helps the 2.0 deliver the same efficiency and CO2 figures as the 1.4, all while being 50hp more powerful, making 70Nm more torque, and weighing 30kg more. In fact the A4 2.0 beats its rivals, the BMW 320i (5.5L/100km) and Mercedes-Benz C 200 (5.3L/100km) in the game of who sips least. Even the BMW 318i with its 1.5-litre three-cylinder can’t match it in economy.
Caveats? You’ll still pay more road tax – $1,193 a year compared to $624 a year for the 1.4 – but if anything it also highlights how that mode of calculating ‘what you owe for being on the road’, and COE categories, is increasingly outdated.
In the real world, the 2.0 does deliver efficiency as promised. On the highway, it’s easy enough to better the quoted fuel economy figures. Even ploughing through traffic, you’ll struggle to exceed 9.0L/100km over anything but the most heavy-footed, short and slow journeys.
And speaking of heavy feet, there’s still no replacement for displacement, the generous thrust of the 2.0 means less revving, and more fuel saving, compared to a smaller engine for drives demanding more speed.
We’ve often maintained that the lesser, front-wheel drive Audis often make up for in finesse and lightfooted feel what they lack over their quattro all-wheel drive brethren, and it’s still true here.
0-100km/h saves 0.8 seconds over the 1.4, but the 2.0 simply has the power and authority its smaller sibling can’t hope to match, and feels more than rapid, since it delivers nearly 200hp with a relatively light (1,405kg) kerbweight
Efficient new heart aside, it’s the classic A4 experience on board. This model has sportier suspension as standard (‘Dynamic suspension’) and smaller, 16-inch wheels, so it’s agile and fun to drive, but never approaching crossover-like levels of rocky ride quality.
As the entry-level model there isn’t a huge load of equipment. The Virtual Cockpit shown on the test car (above) is an option, while the infotainment is the basic, non-navigation equipped model, though you can hook up your smartphone for that.
Sometimes, small engines do feel out of place, and under the bonnet of increasing;y capable and complex German executive sedans is one of them.
The A4 makes a driver’s choice easier, being extra clever where it counts, demanding top-level efficiency without sacrificing power, or much of anything else really.
Audi A4 2.0 TFSI ultra
|Engine||1,984cc, inline 4, turbocharged|
|Power||190hp at 4200rpm|
|Torque||320Nm at 1450- 4200rpm|
|Price||$176,980 with COE|