Drive Thru: 2008 Audi A4 1.8 TFSI

2008 Audi A4 1.8 TFSI

Last month Audi Australia officially launched an all new A4 model. Audi claims to be the fastest growing prestige brand in the Australian market. If that growth is to continue the new A4 needs to deliver bums on seats. At launch there were four engine choices available. Two petrol powerplants—118kW 1.8 TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder, 195kW 3.2 FSI narrow angle V6—and two turbocharged diesel engines—105kW 2.0 TDI four-cylinder, 140kW 2.7 TDI six-cylinder. In AUSmotive’s second Drive Thru instalment, we bring you a brief report on the entry level 1.8 TFSI model.

2008 Audi A4 1.8 TFSI

Audi is widely recognised as a market leader in both exterior and interior design. The all new A4 continues that tradition for the German manufacturer. While the outside of the new A4 doesn’t possess the immediate appeal at launch that previous iterations have, it will be a design that ages gracefully and will maintain a fresh look throughout it’s model cycle. The interior is simply a beautiful place to be. All controls and dials are well laid out with simple and effective design, and, if anything, Audi’s class leading interior build quality has taken a further step ahead of its rivals. Naturally, the new A4 has all the latest safety technology, including up to eight airbags. These, and several other features, have been developed by Audi’s Accident Research Unit, which looks into real-world accident situations and uses the learned data to formulate new technologies and occupant protection strategies.

At 4.70m long, the new A4 has grown by 117mm overall. Width has also increased by 55mm to 1.82m, while the front and rear tracks are now 45mm and 36mm wider respectively. The wheelbase is 167mm longer and the front overhangs are shorter by 68mm. These overall increases have given the interior more space in virtually every dimension. The additional 29mm in rear legroom perhaps the most welcome improvement over the outgoing model. The 460 litre boot has also grown and is really quite cavernous. For those craving more space, an all new wagon, or Avant model, will be in Australian showrooms by around August. It took Audi’s bahn-storming 1994 RS2 to make me realise that station wagons can be objects of great desire and beauty, and the new A4 Avant is close to their best effort yet.

2008 Audi A4 1.8 TFSI

Our test car was fitted with an all new continuously variable multitronic transmission. At an additional $2600 over the standard six-speed manual the CVT does come at a cost. Although, it is worth noting, that the CVT is the only transmission available on the 2.0 TDI and 2.7 TDI models. While the 3.2 FSI is fitted with a conventional torque-converter six-speed tiptronic auto. If you’ve never driven a CVT before it is quite a surreal experience at first. To explain in very basic terms, when left in D mode the car will rev at a steady rate while the transmission’s ratios constantly change as speed increases or decreases. Flicking the shifter into the Sport mode gives you eight settings and a feeling of a more conventional automatic, albeit a very competent one. There is also a manual mode available by pushing the gearshift to the left. On this brief drive, though, there was no need for this feature as the Sport mode proved so able. In D mode, from a standing start, foot to the floor, it’s almost comical watching the needle steadily increasing from around 5000rpm, while the increasing speed shows no signs of abating. This is in no way a criticism, however, the CVT will most likely have plenty of sceptics, but for the A4’s target market this technology is very well suited.

I was pleasantly surprised at how responsive the little 1.8 TFSI was and its ability to shift the 1410kg saloon is to be commended. If the fuel consumption figures are to be believed this engine will return a very tidy figure of 7.4l/100km, even less with the six-speed manual.

Driving the car around town was a pleasant and enjoyable experience. The test car was fitted with the optional sports suspension which predictably made for a firm ride over some harsher bumps, but I certainly didn’t feel uncomfortable at any stage. When pushed the car felt very stable and it handles twists and turns with aplomb. The steering can feel a little heavy on initial turn in, although it doesn’t take long to get comfortable with this, and soon the weighting feels just right. Even though the car is front-wheel drive there was no noticeable understeer during the test and the grip from the optional 17” wheels fitted with Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tyres was plentiful.

In closing, perhaps the only real criticisms possible would be that the foot well space for the driver could be slightly larger and, at times, the otherwise delightful CVT can be a bit noisy. Starting at a luxury car tax busting price of $50,900 plus on roads, for the manual 1.8 TFSI, the new A4 makes a compelling argument when placed against its rivals. You often hear people describe a house as having a ‘good feel’ to it. Well, the new A4 is just like that. Even though my time with the car was brief, you just know it would be a great car to own.

2008 Audi A4 1.8 TFSI

Thank you to Audi Centre Canberra for their assistance.