It’s a pity. Without dropping big bucks, you can get behind the wheel of what’s a good-looking sports sedan, but also one that’s a capable all-rounder, especially in the ride and handling department.
We don’t mind the Quantum Grey paint job, either.
Whichever way you look at it, the A4 is an attractive proposition. it undercuts its Q5 cousin by around $6000, while delivering a more exhilarating driving experience. And let’s face it, at just under 4.8 metres in length, it also affords its passengers plenty of space.
In short, it ticks enough boxes for those Audi enthusiasts that can’t quite stretch all the way up to the V6-powered S4, by offering a sufficient dollop of punch from its turbocharged engine, as well as confidence-inspiring grip from its quattro all-wheel drive system.
The A4 45 TFSI quattro S line sits atop the Audi A4 totem pole before you get to the full-blown S4, which swaps the regular 2.0-litre turbo-four for a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6.
Before options, the A4 Sedan 45 TFSI quattro S line costs $70,800 before on-road costs, substantially less than the $101,500 asking price for the S4.
Nevertheless, it still commands a sizeable premium over the less powerful front-wheel drive A4 35 TFSI S line, which is priced at $59,900 before on-road costs.
If you require more space and versatility but like the low-slung profile, there’s always the A4 45 TFSI quattro S line Avant wagon from $70,877 list.
A4 45 TFSI quattro S line highlights:
- 19-inch Audi Sport five-spoke alloy wheels
- Sport suspension (20mm lower ride height)
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Auto lights and wipers
- Full-LED headlights (Matrix LED +$1050)
- LED tail lights with dynamic rear turn signals
- High-gloss package (window surrounds in anodised aluminium)
- Keyless entry and start
- Electric side mirrors with heating, folding, auto-dimming and kerbside functions
- Leather-appointed upholstery
- Electric front sport seats with memory and extendable thigh supports
- Heated front seats
- Three-zone climate control
- Frameless auto-dimming rear-view mirror
- Ambient lighting
- Flat-bottom sports leather steering wheel with paddle shifters
- Storage package
- 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit digital instruments
- 10.1-inch MMI touchscreen
- Satellite navigation
- Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Wireless phone charging
- 10-speaker Audi sound system (180-watts)
- DAB+ digital radio
Our tester was also fitted with a number of options, including special paint ($1531), adaptive sport suspension ($1100), Audi exclusive black high-gloss styling package ($800), 19-inch five-V-spoke star alloy wheels ($385), and inlays in piano black finish ($400).
The Audi A4 line-up gets a five-star ANCAP rating carried over from 2015 test results, which included for a 90 per cent score for adult occupant protection and 87 per cent for child occupant protection.
Both vulnerable road user and safety assist each recorded a score of 75 per cent.
Standard safety kit on the A4 45 TFSI quattro S Line comprises eight airbags, attention assist, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian protection, blind-spot monitoring rear cross-traffic assist, exit warning system, and lane-change assist.
Despite the inclusion of a raft of active safety systems, the A4 45 TFSI quattro S Line misses out on standard adaptive cruise control with stop&go and traffic jam assist, active lane assist, park assist, collision avoidance assist and turn assist, which monitors oncoming traffic when making a right turn at low speeds.
For those, our tester was equipped with the optional Assistance plus package ($2900), which also adds a head-up display and 360-degree cameras to the above suite of safety equipment.
For so long it was Audi leading the charge when it came to interiors with top-shelf materials, cutting-edge tech, and clean lines. These days it’s harder to pick a winner.
BMW and Mercedes-Benz have lifted their games substantially, and there’s the new kid on the block, Genesis, looking every bit the contender when it comes to interior design.
Audi still does a nice job, especially with its higher-end variants. There’s still plenty of grey, but the quality of the plastics – both hard and soft – is exemplary.
The brightwork and knurled switchgear is where Audi has always excelled, with beautiful polished or brushed metal accents complementing the soft-touch materials perfectly. While the A4 still has plenty of that, our tester also had its fair share of piano black material on the centre console, dashboard and door trims.
No question it looks nice, but it also shows up finger marks and smudges quite easily as we all know.
The seats are superbly comfortable with just enough bolstering to properly control your posture should you be lucky enough to find some lonely roads. The perfectly round leather steering wheel is refreshing, given Audi was one of the first to introduce the flat-bottomed variety, which don’t make much sense to me in road cars.
It’s hard to go past Audi’s trademark 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit driver’s display for its response times when changing layouts, but the screens in Mercedes-Benz cars offer better clarity and more vibrant colour these days.
Gone is the traditional rotary dial that was common in Audis, only to be replaced by a relatively large and crystal-clear touchscreen. To be frank I’d like both, because sometimes the screen can be difficult to use on the run. The dial is easier in those situations.
Audi also uses thick carpet for its floor mats, so barefoot driving can be pleasant enough as summertime looms.
There’s plenty of storage spaces for keys, wallets, and mobiles up front, especially the console box itself, with an inductive phone charging cradle of non-slip rubber as well as extra space for odds and ends.
We could only find two USB ports in the entire car and they’re positioned up front (1 x USB-A, 1 x USB-C), while out back we could only find a single 12V outlet.
A4 passengers are afforded plenty of legroom, especially those in the rear. Boot space is similarly generous with 460L of space back there, and a decently wide aperture for easy loading.
Nonetheless, you’ll need to weigh up the cost/benefit in choosing the more practical A4 Avant, which boasts 495 litres of luggage space and the convenience of a tailgate versus the traditional boot. It will cost you an additional $2500, but seems like a no-brainer for those with active lifestyles such as MTB riders and surfers.
Powering the A4 TFSI 45 quattro is a 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine making 183kW of power between 5000 and 6500rpm, and 370Nm of torque from 1600 to 4500rpm.
The power unit is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission sending drive to all four wheels via Audi’s trademark quattro all-wheel drive system.
Top speed is limited to 250km/h, while the 0-100km/h sprint comes up in a claimed 5.8 seconds using premium 95 RON petrol.
This latest version is also equipped with relatively simple 12V mild-hybrid system, which can recover energy during coasting or under braking. The system uses a lithium-ion battery that powers the auxiliary functions when the combustion engine is shut off, while the 12V belt alternator-starter provides seamless stop/starts, as well as a tad more power.
It’s got some genuine go this thing. Punch it, and aside from some very light hesitancy under 2000rpm it takes off with real gusto the moment the turbo spools up and the quattro system gets all the power down.
It’s not quite the enthusiast’s choice (that’s the S4 or RS4), but it’s satisfying to know you’ve got plenty of poke in that right pedal to dispense with right-lane hogs or get you out of trouble during high-speed overtakes.
Around town, it’s a smooth-revving engine that pairs well with its dual-clutch gearbox, especially in Auto, though more often than not I found myself flicking the shifter over to manual while tapping the Drive select button into Dynamic mode for a few pops and crackles on rapid-fire downshifts.
However, while there’s some rorty-ness to the engine note in the mid-range, any higher and you get that not-so-pleasant harshness so many four-pot engines suffer from.
That lowered stance from the standard Sport suspension reduces the ride height by 20mm, and also gives the A4 excellent composure and body control through the bends. When combined with its electromechanical steering, I found myself seeking out the long way home just to put it through some of the twisty stuff.
Ride comfort is very decent too, given the fact it’s a fixed-rate damper set up, which is where Audi has made big improvements in more recent times.
No longer is the damping sharp and uncomfortable, rather there’s excellent compliance built into the suspension that largely absorbs all manner of bumps and broken roads.
Audi has struck a good balance between handling, chassis balance and ride comfort in the A4 45 TFSI quattro, though to be fair it skews slightly sporty (which is what I want).
It’s fun to drive and quite versatile when you factor in the various drive modes on offer.
From January 1, 2022, all new Audi vehicles are covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty – aligned with other Volkswagen Group brands in Australia.
For servicing, Audi offers three- and five-year servicing packages ($1710 and $2720 respectively), with service intervals set at 12 months or 15,000km – whichever comes first.
It can also be quite economical, returning an average fuel consumption of 7.9L/100km around the suburbs.
There’s aren’t many car brands that do sport and luxury better than Audi, and the A4 45 TFSI quattro is a fine example of a manufacturer striking the right balance between these two key attributes.
Sure, you can save around $9000 going for the 35 TFSI S line, but an extra 73kW can make all the difference between something nice enough and something special, not to mention the extra trim bits that complete the package.
Best of all, the 45 TFSI packs the unique combination of understated aggression, low-slung looks, and quattro all-wheel drive that have always made the Audi A4 worthy of consideration against a suite of like-minded rivals.
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MORE: Everything Audi A4