Long-term update (3): Audi A4 1,4T FSI S tronic Sport
In my last update, I complained about the slow nature of the dual-clutch transmission especially when compared with the one in the VW Tiguan 1,4 TSI. Shortly after, I was contacted by an Audi representative who informed me of a service update on A4 1,4T FSI models. A quick visit to Audi Centre Cape Town and the software that controls the shift patterns was updated. There’s been a moderate improvement in clutch engagement from pull-away and a marked difference in terms of downshifts. If you own a new A4 1,4T FSI, it’s worth getting in touch with your nearest dealer for this upgrade.
At the very end of last year, the instrument cluster had been calling for an oil service. It was difficult to book the car in at the time, so I waited until early in the new year. A call to Audi Centre Claremont secured me a spot later that same week.
Although my booking wasn’t captured at the time, the friendly and efficient staff created a new job card immediately. I was offered a lift to our offices and, because the A4 was the last in for the day, I was informed that it would be ready late in the afternoon.
Later, I went to fetch FC 21 GS GP and had to fill out some paper work before the freshly cleaned vehicle was released to me. Total cost for the painless process would have been R1 147,14, but it was completely covered by the five-year/100 000 km maintenance contract.
Included in the service bill were a few quarts fo 5W-40 spec oil, a new oil filter and sump nut. The oil filter costs a fair R106, but R50 for a sump nut is steep. More interesting, however, was the labour charge of R 1 006,40 ... ouch.
After 10 months
Mileage now: 13 454 km
Fuel consumption: 8,52 L/100 km
We like: transmission software update
We don’t like: test period ending soon
Long-term update (2): Audi A4 1,4T FSI S tronic Sport
It's been very difficult to find fault with our Audi A4 long-term test car … but, having said that, when my colleagues have driven, it a few have complained about the transmission.
These gripes have centred round lag as you pull away from standstill, and the dual-clutch transmission’s reluctance to down shift when negotiating corners. The latter is easily cured by using the steering wheel-mounted paddles, but the former isn’t quite as easy to overcome. Shifting to sport mode does hasten take-offs, but then the transmission holds onto gears longer than is ideal.
All of this has not really been a problem for me, as I’ve obviously learned to skirt round the issues by adapting my driving style, and after six months, I had stopped noticing it. But, when I drove the new VW Tiguan recently (tested in the October 2016 issue), I was reminded how hesitant the Audi’s transmission is.
The two cars have near identical drivetrains, a 1,4-litre turbocharged petrol engine powering the front wheels via a dual-clutch transmission, but the response rate between the two is night and day. In the VW, pull-aways are quick and lag-free, the clutch engaging crisply and with no sensation of slip. Downshifts, too, are more decisive and perfectly timed. The sharper operation of the VW’s transmission is obviously a sign of progress, but the A4 isn’t that old and the two cars aren’t dissimilar in usage patterns, which makes the discrepancy all the more odd.
After 7 months
Mileage now: 11 978 km
Fuel consumption: 8,48 L/100 km
We like: refinement
We don’t like: hesitant transmission
Long-term update (1): Audi A4 1,4T FSI S tronic Sport
In my introductory update for the Audi A4, I mentioned that the newcomer wasn’t in quite standard specification. Audi SA had seen fit to add a few niceties to FC 21 GS GP before it left the factory.
The most obvious upgrade is the adoption of 18-inch alloy wheels (R15 500). The S line exterior package (R21 620), meanwhile, helps to give the car’s styling a bit more edge.
In the cabin, Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital-instrument cluster adds an air of modernity (R6 980) and the three-spoke multifunction steering wheel (R4 750) is a thing of beauty to hold and control, but the optional sound system (R5 700) lacks a bit of punch.
The MMI navigation is the most expensive option (R24 500), although it does boast a touch interface that allows you to input information by “writing” on the control pad. That said, as I’m a righthander and end up using my left forefinger, the letters are usually unclear.
Adding a few other options quickly escalated the total to R90 760 … ouch! The one item Audi didn’t fit was parking sensors. At nearly 4,8 metres long, the A4 is a comparatively long vehicle for its segment and therefore isn’t the easiest to park, although I am getting used to it with time.
The one thing that’s really odd on this car is the fact that it starts via a transponder key, but still requires you to click the remote-fob button to gain access to the cabin. It’s a small thing, but if the car can start without the key, why not allow ease of cabin access, too?
After 3 months
Mileage now: 4 358 km
Fuel consumption: 8,52 L/100 km
We like: keyless start
We don’t like: lack of keyless entry
Long-term introduction: Audi A4 1,4T FSI S tronic Sport
Since the departure of my BMW long-term test car, there has been an M235i-shaped hole in my life (you can watch my video wrap-up here). The prospect of driving any other car suddenly seemed unappealing … until a Florett Silver Audi A4 rolled into the CAR garage and caught my eye.
Editor Steve Smith must have seen me sniffing around the newcomer to our fleet and, a few days later, he handed me the keys and asked me to be its caretaker for the next year. I accepted his offer without hesitation because I’ve never had an Audi long-term test car. To date, the list includes vehicles from Renault, Seat, Mini, Fiat, Honda, Toyota and BMW.
Audi’s evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, design strategy has created a car that most onlookers don’t peg as an all-new A4, which undersells this sedan. Despite being the entry-level model of the new A4 line-up, the 1,4T FSI variant is indistinguishable from the 2,0-litre model. This fact was underlined when we had a 2,0T FSI on test recently and the only visible cue was the different registration numbers and a Drive Select button inside on the latter.
“My” car has the S-line exterior package as well as 18-inch five-spoke alloys. There are a few other non-standard items, which I’ll highlight at a later stage, that lift the price of R492 000 to R582 760.
The exterior may be conservative, but the interior treatment is among the best in this class. The choice of materials, perceived build quality and optional virtual cockpit digital instrument cluster are all top-notch and make the A4’s cabin a great place in which to spend time. I’m also a big fan of the excellent noise insulation.
My new steed has Audi’s slick-shifting S tronic dual-clutch transmission. Some have questioned how such a small engine as the 1,4-litre can propel such a large car, but thanks to the turbocharger, there’s a handy 110 kW on offer and an even more impressive peak torque value of 250 N.m; that’s nearly 180 N.m per litre.
I’ve been really impressed with the ride quality thus far, even on the optional wheels. The power delivery is typical of modern forced-induction units – there’s a wide powerband from just above idle speed. The ECU has a tendency to shift up through the seven-speed transmission really quickly, unless the shift lever is pulled down to sport mode, which I avoid in my daily commute. Obvious benefits to this strategy are lower fuel consumption. Audi quotes an incredible 5,1 L/100 km, although I suspect I won’t get close to that number.
After 1 month
Mileage now: 1 846 km
Fuel consumption: 7,68 L/100 km
We like: beautiful interior
We don’t like: staid exterior