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With a refreshed design, new cabin equipment and a mild-hybrid drivetrain, the updated Audi A4 takes key steps to keep it abreast of the competition.

19 Aug 2020


Competition within the compact executive saloon segment is tough. Besides the heavy hitters like the BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, there are also other captivating options such as the Alfa Romeo Giulia or the Lexus IS.

The current generation Audi A4 was launched in 2016, and four years on its high time for an update to keep it abreast of the competition. How does it stack up? 

So, what's different? 

New styling lines create a more sporty and athletic exterior design
It may not be immediately obvious from the outside, but the exterior of the A4 is almost completely updated. In fact, only the bonnet, roof and bootlid have remained the same. The rest of the exterior has been refreshed - new bumpers, new doors, new lights, new wheels, and even new styling lines.

The updated A4 is a subtly better-looking car - especially from the side view, the car appears to lean forwards a tad, giving it a more athletic disposition. The front and rear also have more girth, and it all adds up to a more handsome look, without feeling like a try-hard.

The new 10.1-inch MMI touch display runs the MIB 3 system, which is notably faster than before
The cabin also receives notable upgrades. The 12.3-inch virtual cockpit plus gets upgraded graphics and additional configuration options, and the MMI touch display has been upgraded to 10.1-inches. The infotainment system has also been upgraded to MIB 3 (this is the first Audi to use this new system, reportedly 10 times faster than MIB 2).

Audi has ditched the rotary wheel in the centre console (there's now a small cubby hole there), and now you have to operate the infotainment system entirely by using the touchscreen. Yes, this definitely makes the cabin a cleaner and sleeker place, but we will admit to slightly missing the clickwheel. Having to stretch to use the touchscreen while driving is a little more hassle than we'd like. 

Something about a hybrid? 

The mild hybrid system allows the car to temporarily shut off the engine while cruising
The Audi A4 is also now a mild hybrid - a 12V system is integrated into the drivetrain. The belt alternator starter can recover up to 5kW of power on braking and feed that to the battery. This energy can then be use to coast with the engine shut off at speeds between 55km/h and 160km/h. Audi also says that this mild hybrid system helps to improve fuel economy slightly.

The mild hybrid addition does not fundamentally change the way the car feels. It still exhibits many of the key qualities that the A4 holds dear - a highly refined drive with a keen focus on comfort, quietness and smoothness. You don't really think about the mild hybrid system even as it works away in the background, whether by letting the car coast with the transmission disengaged, or sometimes even with the engine temporarily switched off.

Driven sensibly, we managed to achieve a fuel economy figure of 13.5km/L over five days of driving
The 2.0-litre engine here produces 188bhp and 320Nm of torque, with power sent to the front wheels (there is also a 148bhp variant, and a 246bhp quattro variant will be introduced later on). Acceleration is brisk and effortless, and the A4 actually handles itself well around corners, too. It's not quite 3 Series engaging to drive (there's not much feel through the steering wheel), but it's really not that far off.

We must say, for a 2.0-litre car, fuel economy is pretty good. Over five days, we managed to clock 13.5km/L, not terribly far off the on-paper figure of 15.9km/L.  

So how does it stack up?

The updated Audi A4 delivers high levels of comfort, refinement and driving sophistication
This Audi A4 update is timely and well-executed - while the changes may not be particularly showy or 'loud', the under-the-skin upgrades further elevate the A4 already stellar capabilities.

Honestly, there's no need to get too hung up about the mild hybrid technology. While it's likely to get attention-grabbing headline, it doesn't fundamentally change the way you use the car. Nor should it - it's a function that's primarily conceived to work in the background.

Within a highly competitive segment, the updated Audi A4 definitely manages to claw back some of the ground it may have lost in the last couple of years (many of its competitors were more recently launched). Highly accomplished, refined and capable, there's plenty to like about the updated model.

Want to see that new 10.1-inch infotainment system at work? Then do also watch our video review of the facelifted Audi A4 here!



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Car Information

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Audi A4 Sedan Mild Hybrid 2.0 TFSI S tronic Advanced (A)
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Price

: $192,490

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1984cc

Horsepower

:

140kW (188 bhp) / 6000 rpm

Torque

:

320 Nm / 4200 rpm

Transmission

:

7-speed (A) S tronic

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

7.3sec

Top Speed

:

240km/h

Fuel consumption

:

15.9 km/L

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