- Handsome design
- Interior quality and technology
- All-wheel drive system
- Three-year warranty is lacklustre
- Service costs are huge
- Lack of steering feel
Let’s say you’re in the market for an executive sedan. Something above the Toyota Camrys of the world, but way less than something like a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It’s gotta be subtle and discreet, luxurious, good to drive. But most of all, it’s gotta have a premium badge. Enter the 2020 Audi A4 45 TFSI Sedan.
For a long time in Australia, the sales king of the segment has been the Mercedes-Benz C-Class – but what if they’re a bit ‘common’? They’ve regularly outsold the Mazda6 over the past five years after all. Are there any worthwhile options?
Price & Specs: 7.5/10
The 2020 Audi A4 starts at $56,100 (plus on-road costs) for the entry 35 TFSI, though we tested the top- spec 45 TFSI, which is priced at $70,300 (around $78,000 drive away).
This competes with the BMW 330i ($71,900) and Mercedes-Benz C300 ($74,200), and like the Audi, both are available in (arguably cooler) wagon bodystyles. Like the A4, both the 330i and C300 use 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engines, with 190kW of power and 370Nm in the C300 and 400Nm in the 330i.
The 45 TFSI we tested is well equipped for the money, with standard equipment such as automatic LED headlights and wipers, leather upholstery, heated/auto-folding mirrors, keyless entry and start, 12-way electrically adjustable front seats with memory functionality, tri-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, a 10-speaker sound system and an 8.3-inch infotainment screen with a reversing camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, digital radio, integrated satellite navigation with live traffic reporting and routing and a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display.
All A4s are also well equipped in terms of safety with eight airbags, low- and high-speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB), driver attention monitoring, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and a system called ‘exit assist’, which warns of oncoming moving objects when opening doors.
Adaptive cruise control – standard on the 330i and C300 – comes with a $1,900 Assistance Package that should be standard on the 45. This pack also adds lane assist, steering intervention for the auto braking system, auto high beam and turn assist, which monitors oncoming traffic when turning right at low speeds.
Like the other cars in this segment, you can choose from other option packages to more richly equip your A4.
The Technik Pack ($4,300) adds matrix functionality (high beam that can shadow moving items such as cars) and headlight washers to the standard LED headlights, a colour heads-up display and a 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system.
You can also choose a $950 Parking Assistant Pack, which adds a 360-degree camera, auto parking and a number of standalone options, including a $1,900 sunroof, $600 heated front seats, $1,530 metallic paring, $1,400 Nappa leather upholstery, and $400 wood dash inlays.
Drive & Engine: 8.0/10
From the outset, it’s obvious that the A4 is not as sporty to drive as the BMW 330i; the handling is not as invigorating and the chassis is far more neutral. There’s no oversteer malarky here.
However, if you’re not about that, then what’s the issue? Even with standard 19-inch alloy wheels and fixed dampers, the A4 is still very well damped – even on Sydney’s atrocious roads. The steering, too, isn’t as feelsome as a 3 Series – but it’s still very nicely weighted. However, you can still have a lot of fun with the A4 45, and you can pick up an alarmingly quick pace too.
All things considered, we thoroughly enjoyed driving it – though a less expensive Volkswagen Passat 206TSI is more rapid and just as dynamic.
Under the bonnet of the 2020 Audi A4 45 TFSI is a 185kW/370Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, which is the most potent A4 drivetrain (S4 aside). It’s matched to a seven-speed dual-clutch auto and unlike the BMW and Merc (in Australia at least), all-wheel drive is standard.
For those that need year-round driving confidence, the A4 feels planted at all times and never struggles for grip. Being all-wheel drive, there’s no torque steer under hard acceleration, and it just points and shoots. It’s surprisingly quick too, with the claimed 0-100km/h sprint taking up just 5.8 seconds. Stay on the pedal and you hit 250km/h before the electronic limiter kicks in.
In normal driving, the A4 is a very easy car to drive around town with excellent visibility, and it’s quiet at speed too with little road noise – just as a luxury car should be.
Audi claims that the A4 45 TFSI will use 6.3L/100km on a combined cycle, and in purely urban driving we got an average 8.5L/100km. The 330i will use 6.4L/100km, and the C300 7L/100km, according to their manufacturers.
All vehicles require a minimum of 95RON fuel.
Interior & Practicality: 9.0/10
While so many Audi interiors look similar – it’s hard to tell the difference between this and the less expensive A3, let alone the Q5 SUV – they are all excellent quality, with a nicely textured range of materials that will keep looking modern well into the future.
Even in the rather conservative white exterior/black interior colour combo of our test car, the A4’s cabin is attractive, sleek and somewhat futuristic – we particularly like the vent that spreads the cabin’s width (even if a lot of it is fake). Best of all is the feeling of each button in the cabin, which offers a very satisfying click when pressed.
It’s an ergonomic cabin too, with everything close in reach to the driver. The 12-way electrically adjustable sports seats of the 45 are very comfortable too, and we really like the half leather/ suede trim that was fitted to our test car.
Full leather is standard, while you can option Nappa leather as well – though unlike the 330i and C300, you get an option of either black or dark grey, with no option of brown or beige or even red. We’d keep it at the suede trim as it’s more yielding and comfortable than the full leather.
Our test car also had the optional Technik Package, which adds a thumping 19-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system with ambient lighting, as well as a very crisp heads-up display. If you’re able to, tick this box before anything else.
Standard fit is Audi’s MMI satellite navigation system, which unlike the facelift A4 due within months, isn’t actually a touchscreen. It’s controlled by the click wheel between the front seats and while it can take a bit to get used to, it’s an excellent way of controlling the infotainment system at speed and is much safer than using a touchscreen.
We’re sad that Audi is replacing this system with a less intuitive touchscreen in all of its products. Audi’s ‘virtual cockpit’ digital dials system is standard too, and it’s excellent. Highly configurable, the virtual cockpit can display a map in front of the driver, for example.
The A4’s cabin is reasonably practical as well. There’s a surprisingly shallow centre bin with optional wireless charging, but big door bins, a large glovebox and both rear door pockets and rear door bins though Audi’s more practical sister brand Skoda does practicality better.
Space is good though, with more than ample room to accommodate four six-footers inside – though rear headroom could be better. Another reason to buy the wagon.
The A4 sedan also has a square 480-litre boot with rear seats that fold down reasonably flat. The boot is the same size as the 330i but 25-litres bigger than the C300. And unlike those cars, the Audi gives you a space-saver spare wheel.
Running Costs & Warranty: 6.5/10
Unlike Mercedes-Benz Australia and its five-year term, Audi Australia continues with a three-year/ unlimited km warranty with one year of roadside assistance. Servicing your car at a dealership at the required times extends this by another 12 months for up to nine years. Servicing the 2020 Audi A4 is required once a year or every 15,000km, whichever comes first. Audi offers three-year/45,000km ($1,710) or five-year/75,000km ($2,720) service plans that are available to purchase upfront – beware that service costs are even more if not purchased upfront.
This is somewhat expensive compared with the BMW 330i, which costs $1,650 for five years/ 80,000km of servicing. The BMW comes with three years of roadside assistance.
While the C300 has a five-year warranty and longer 25,000km service intervals (if that matters to you), its servicing is considerably more expensive. A three-year/75,000km service plan costs $2,000 (five years is $4,300) while paying for each service at service time is even more expensive – $2,450 for three years.
2020 Audi A4 45 TFSI DiscoverAuto Rating: 7.9/10
The 2020 Audi A4, particularly in 45 TFSI guise, is a great executive mid-size car – one that’s comfortable, handsome, full of tech and can do the sporty thing if you require it to. It also offers something its direct competitors do not: all-wheel drive (at least in Australia), which could be important to you.
Sure, it’s not the most exciting car – we’d pick an S4 for properly rapid everyday transport – but it still strikes a great balance in the premium mid-size segment. Choose the wagon for even more cool points.