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Audi A4 1.4 TFSI Sport Line S-tronic The right note in versatility and value

It is said that first impressions count for a lot and are made within the first 30 seconds of entering a place. If I were to have based this review of Audi’s new A4 1.4T FSI purely on first impressions, I’d have the following to say of it:

Clean, slightly aggressive-looking lines. Impressive sporty-looking credentials (read large two-tone 18-inch wheels, added sills, stylish chrome highlights). I like the overall look and it’s definitely a fresh take on a popular middle executive type car.

The tapered rear window leads to a short boot, and is picked out in chrome, creating the impression of a longer bonnet … or a hunkered down beast waiting to hit the open road - whichever you prefer. A cavernous boot easily accommodates golf clubs and converts into a family sedan for the school run, ensuring a seamless transition in purpose. Not a bad start, Audi.

But, just like when you meet someone, first impressions, while important, aren’t necessarily a deciding factor. Sometimes a little time is required to get to know them better. So I knuckled down to some pertinent relationship building with our test car.

As the week progressed and I exposed our ride to more and more of my weekly travel rituals, I discovered that initial doubts on comfort were largely unfounded. Yes, the optional larger wheels look good, yes they make the ride a whole lot harder, but you’re used to it within a couple of days - good news for those who prefer looks to brains!

Several trips to and from the Mother City, some in heavy traffic, completely endeared the car to me. I loved its intuitive MMI system and blasting my favourite tunes through the eight speakers in the car certainly alleviated any traffic-related boredom.

Gear transitions on the 7-speed S-tronic transmission are smooth as silk and all helped make what is generally a tedious trek into a pleasant and refreshing journey each time. One criticism (it’s minor) is the a small amount of turbo lag I encountered when trying to accelerate quickly from a low speed. This doesn’t happen when at cruising speeds and can easily be picked up up on and accommodated by a slight shift in your driving style and some forward planning.

Another minor criticism is the auto start-stop functionality, which I found overly sensitive. I like to coast to a stop and I found the engine cut out below a certain rev range. This was intensely frustrating in heavily gridlocked traffic. You can resolve it by turning off the auto start function, even though this did detract from the ride.

Other outings included the daily run up and down the hills of my hometown, including negotiating a ridiculous number of speedbumps. Here you’ll note the harder ride, particularly if you don’t take care to reduce your speed sufficiently. Impressively, despite the hilly short commutes, we still averaged 8,1l/100 km for the week on fuel consumption. I was reasonably impressed, although Audi claims an average of just 4,9.

In terms of added extras, definitely get the full MMI package with writable touch pad, voice commands and impressive digital instrumentation display. I spent ages fiddling around on it X it’s quick to react (generally speaking) and simple to use. The display is really stunning.

One of the questions asked me was which vehicle I preferred X Volkswagen’s new Passat or this A4 from Audi? It’s a tough one as they’ve both come to the party in impressive outfits and are equally stunning to drive, handle and to look at. On better acquaintance with both of these lovely ladies, I find myself hard-pressed to give an answer.

Let me just end by saying that if striking the right note in terms of badge and brand is an important part of your criteria, you’ll want to take this A4 home. If you’re looking for value for money and more bang for your buck, you may want to give it a little more thought.

The Audi A4 1.4 TFSI Sport Line is priced from R505 000. - Galimoto Media

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