Audi's revised-for-2012 A4 and S4, released this week in South Africa, is more an evolution than a revolution, bolder styling, a new entry-level engine and, as always, a bewildering list of derivatives, with the familiar Attraction, Ambition and Ambiente trim levels making way for S, SE and Quattro models.
The tweaked A4's bonnet is more arched, the upper corners of the grill are tapered and the cross ribs and Audi rings are more three-dimensional, while the grille is painted grey, or gloss black on the six-cylinder models and S-line exterior package.
The headlight clusters have been re-arranged with a slight wave at the bottom edge, the tail lights have been reshaped to match, and the bumper (as well as its diffuser insert) are redesigned so that all models have two tailpipes.
GOOGLE'S ITS FRIEND
Inside, there's a selection of new steering wheels with chrome and gloss inlays, and a fancy new ignition key, delicate new chrome trims and high-gloss inserts.
What's more, the MMI navigation plus system has been radically simplified, with four instead of eight buttons and a script function built into the volume control. The auto gearshift, aircon and optional drive select controls have also been revised to make their operation more intuitive.
Some neat technology also makes its debut in the form of an optional Wi-Fi feature that allows passengers to connect their laptops and tablets and there's a navigation system in Google Earth view.
NUTS AND BOLTS
The new entry-level engine is a detuned 1.8 TFSI, for which Audi quotes 88kW and 230Nm with a CO² figure of 149 grams per kilometre. A 125kW version of this engine is also available.
The proven 2-litre TFSI is rated at 155kW, and at the top of the range there's the three-litre V6 TFSI with 200kW and 400Nm on tap.
Two four-cylinder diesel engines, each of two litres' capacity, offer output levels of 105kW and 130kW, while the top diesel remains the six-cylinder three-litre TDI, generating 180kW and 500Nm.
Front-wheel drive models come with either a six-speed manual 'box or an 'eight-speed' continuously variable multitronic transmission, while the quattro versions each have a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Electromechanical power steering is new across the range; it requires no power when steering straight ahead, reducing fuel consumption by 0.3 litres per 100 km.
Also new is the driver information system with brake recommendation; the car detects and alerts the driver attention to deviations from typical driving behaviour.
The S4 has the most powerful engine in the line-up, the three-litre V6 TFSI with 245kW and 440Nm, capable of 0-100 in five seconds flat and 250km/h flat out, at an average fuel consumption of eight litres per 100km.
The S4 has special headlights, bumpers and air intakes, and a sportier interior. It runs on S sport suspension with 19” rims as standard.
GREAT TO DRIVE
Our launch correspondent Denis Droppa of Star Motoring drove the tweaked A4 soon after experiencing BMW's all-new 3 series:
“I can say that as good as the new Beemer is - and it really is - there's nothing about the A4 that feels outdated. It's still an impressive junior executive car with the necessary ride comfort, driving dynamics and refinement to compete with anything in its class, while still boasting the classiest cabin in its segment.
“That said, the electromechanical steering feels a little artificial in the quattro models, with feedback that's sometimes out of synch with the speed the vehicle's doing.”
A4 1.8T FSI 88kW S - R309 500
A4 1.8T FSI 125kW S - R332 000
A4 1.8T FSI 125kW S Multitronic - R349 000
A4 2.0 TDI 105kW S - R336 500
A4 2.0 TDI 130kW S Multitronic - R353 500
A4 1.8T FSI 125kW SE - R347 000
A4 1.8T FSI 125kW SE Multitronic - R364 000
A4 2.0T FSI Multitronic - R390 000
A4 2.0 TDI 130kW SE - R351 500
A4 2.0 TDI 130kW SE Multitronic - R368 500
A4 2.0T FSI Quattro S tronic - R456 500
A4 3.0T FSI Quattro S tronic - R504 000
A4 3.0 TDI Quattro S tronic - R503 000
S4 quattro S tronic - R620 000
1.8T FSI S - R349 000
1.8T FSI S Multitronic - R366 000
2.0 TDI S - R353 500
2.0 TDI S Multitronic - R370 500
Partial leather upholstery
Four-spoke multifunction leather covered steering wheel
Concert radio with colour LCD screen
New-design 16” alloy rims
Front centre arm-rest
Driver information system with monochrome display
Electromechanical power steering
Idle stop function
SE models add to that:
Audi music interface
Colour driver information system
Chrome side window surrounds
quattro models also have
New-design 18” alloys
Split rear seat
Delux three zone automatic aircon
Three spoke multifunction steering wheel
S4 models add to that:
19” alloy rims
Electric sports front seats in alcantara/leather combination
Symphony radio with six-disc front-loading CD changer
Xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lights
Tyre pressure monitor