First introduced in September 2016, the B9 Audi A4 arrived with pricing for just a sole 2.0 TFSI variant, for starters. Several months later, the full A4 line-up became readily available, with the price introduction of the 1.4 TFSI as well as the 2.0 TFSI quattro.

With that, Audi Malaysia invited us along with other media members to sample the all-new A4 on Malaysian roads. Available to us were two ends of the A4 spectrum – the base 1.4 TFSI and the range-topping 2.0 TFSI quattro S Line.

Fellow colleague Danny Tan had the opportunity to sample both in a far away land known as Venice in Italy, and Anthony Lim later on shared his thoughts of the 2.0 TFSI. So, let’s see how the other variants fare in our local context.

Our media drive began in the most affordable A4 you can buy, where initial impressions were good. The A4 offered a low sitting position that bodes well with this writer.

Despite that, there is still good ergonomics to be had, with common controls within easy reach. It also helps that when it starts to get dark in the cabin, common places you would acess access are highlighted by soft lighting around them (i.e. the cupholders).

Other practical points of focus include the spacious rear living space, complemented by a large seat base for passengers. Meanwhile, cargo space is rated at 480 litres, expandable to 965 litres when you fold the rear seats down.

The design of the dash is also something that is attractive to this writer, with a minimalistic approach that feels very modern. Yes, it may not be as flashy as what you may find in a Mercedes-Benz C-Class for instance, but there is a certain appeal here that I assume many will like.

Another plus point is despite the 1.4 TFSI being the base A4 variant, it certainly doesn’t appear “cheap” in any way. Build quality is impressive and you still get those cool climate control dials, with tiny displays within them. The seven-inch MMI Radio Plus infotainment further adds to the premium feel of things, although its graphics and intuitiveness can be a little uninspiring.

With initial introductions out of the way, it’s time to get a move on to see what the base A4 has to offer. Let’s start with the engine – the 1.4 litre turbocharged unit here provides 150 hp at 5,000 rpm and 250 Nm of torque at 1,500 rpm.

The mill isn’t the most encouraging at low revs, and you’ll have to work it a bit harder to get some urgency. Even so, there’s no denying that the engine does feel like it runs out of puff, something that was exacerbated when traversing the numerous uphill sections of the route.

Nonetheless, it certainly is good enough for the standard highway and city runs, just don’t expect much if you want to head out on a spirited drive. The seven-speed wet dual-clutch S tronic automatic gearbox is also a treat to utilise, with seamless shifts that you’d expect.

Should you choose to “get your hoon on,” the 1.4 TFSI will be more inclined to understeer when pushed. Front-end grip is good despite the high-profile 225/50 tyres, but the front-wheel drive nature of the powertrain won’t make things very encouraging.

Away from the twisties, you’ll be glad to know that the 1.4 TFSI delivers a really good ride, which this writer feels outshines the competition. This is partly thanks to the comfort suspension fitted, which smothers poorly laid out tarmac with minimal fuss.

Primary ride is dealt with sans any shocks to the cabin, while secondary ride is kept in check without any teeth clattering involved. Adding to this pleasantries are the supportive and comfortable seats, which by the end of my stint in the car, didn’t give me the urge hastily exit the vehicle.

Of course, when the next car on the cards was the more powerful, and more wheels driven 2.0 TFSI quattro, haste didn’t turn out to be a bad case.

This time, the 2.0 TFSI quattro was driven back to our starting spot from our lunch stop (a very pretty one at that). The stint involved a blast along the Karak Highway before joining the North-South Expressway and trudging our way through traffic back to the city.

Walking up to the car, you’ll notice plenty of distinct cues that separate the range-topper from the rest of the A4 range. More aggressive-looking bumpers and larger 18-inch “Star” alloy wheels are just some of the items found in the S line package, which is standard here along with LED headlights (bi-xenon on the 1.4 TFSI).

Inside, there’s a wider 8.3-inch MMI Navigation Plus unit instead, and with its added functionality, the switchgear on the centre console is tweaked (Car is replaced with Nav/Map). The system also works with the digital screen in the instrument cluster, which sadly isn’t Audi’s virtual cockpit display system.

If you want that, you’ll have to opt for the Tech Pack with the front-wheel drive version of the 2.0 TFSI. Beyond that, the 2.0 TFSI quattro gets Alcantara/leather seats, sport steering wheel, aluminium pedals and a dash-mounted badge to mark it out further.

The extra RM96,000 you’re paying nets you a 2.0 litre turbocharged engine, which makes 252 hp at 5,000 rpm and 370 Nm at 1,600 rpm. This is obviously leaps and bounds ahead of the 1.4 TFSI, and also more than the FWD 2.0 TFSI (190 hp at 4,200 rpm and 320 Nm at 1,450 rpm).

That extra grunt is required for the car’s quattro all-wheel drive system, while also bringing down the zero to 100 km/h time down to just 5.8 seconds from the 1.4 TFSI’s 8.5 seconds and 2.0 TFSI’s 7.3 seconds.

That’s some intense progression in terms of performance, and it gets better with a higher top speed of 250 km/h (against the 1.4 TFSI’s 210 km/h) and the addition of adaptive comfort suspension.

All this is linked to the Audi drive select system, which is controlled via the infotainment or dedicated buttons just below the climate control switchgear. The system allows driver to adjust the aggressiveness of the car’s powertrain as well as the dampening of the suspension (except on the 1.4 TFSI).

For the Karak portion, “dynamic” was the option we went with – the mode forces the car to hold on to gears for longer and provides quicker engine response. The extra power was undoubtedly noticeable, and there was still plenty on tap even when the speedometer reached heightened numbers (a far cry from the 1.4 TFSI).

While the power is intoxicating, the 2.0 TFSI quattro has plenty to offer in the handling department as well with the brand’s proprietary AWD system. Though the car is still inclined to understeer initially, the quattro system helps pull things back in line, by sending up to 85% of torque to the rear axle.

This is certainly something that was noticed during the sweeping, high-speed corners of the Karak Highway. Sadly, there wasn’t a whole lot of rally-esque sections that allowed us to go all Michele Mouton on, safely. However, this writer notes that the A4’s steering is quick and communicative, although it can feel a tad bit light and overassisted for some (“dynamic” mode helps add a bit more weight to it).

Reentering the city, we slipped the drive select in to “comfort” mode, which cranked things down by a few notches. The change in ride wasn’t as noticeable as the restrained powertrain, and the 2.0 TFSI quattro continued to offer a comfy ride similar to the 1.4 TFSI. This is even with the larger engine and 18-inch alloy wheels (shod with 245/40 tyres).

For those on the hunt for efficiency, there’s just such a mode available, which limits engine response severely and changes the shift points to arrive earlier. This mode also allows the rear axle and differential to be decoupled entirely when coasting, reducing frictional losses that would hurt fuel economy.

The A4 is a very compelling buy if you’re looking for something beyond the usual range of German premium sedans from Mercedes-Benz and BMW. It offers a cushy ride, a lovely interior, and all-wheel drive if you opt for the range-topping variant, something neither the F30 nor the W205 has.

Even in its base variation, the A4 is a delightful bit of kit to drive around in, so long as you’re not concerned about navigating corners as quickly as possible. If you plan to do such a deed, the quattro variant is the one to go for, as it provides the assurance that rear-wheel drive rivals may not offer.

In summary, the A4 is a trustworthy option that you’ll enjoy spending time driving around in. You’ll just have to choose which variant matches your intensity.

Compare all four variants of the B9 Audi A4 at CarBase.my

GALLERY: Audi A4 2.0 TFSI quattro S line


GALLERY: Audi A4 1.4 TFSI