Audi has had a pretty interesting history, starting with the glorious years in the pre-world war II era, then the Volkswagen model cloning until the 1980s or so, to challenging the two very best premium manufacturers, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Some might say that the real threat to the two Teutonic knights started no earlier than 1994. That was the year when Audi decided to change its models' nomenclature from the non-sensical "50", "80", "90", "100", "200", "V8", "quattro" to the much more logical "A", followed by a number designating a different segment for the model.
Coincidentally, that was also the year when the first generation of their A4 model was launched, along with a facelift for the 100/200, renaming it the A6, while the aluminium space frame A8 was also unleashed upon the BMW 7-Series and the Mercedes-Benz S-Klasse. Technically, the B8 Audi is the third generation of the A4, since we don't like calling the extensive facelift suffered in 2005 as a "new generation". So, fifteen years later, can the latest Audi A4 still play in the same field as the sales-leading BMW 3-Series or the techy Mercedes-Benz C-Klasse?
For years, Audi's marketing strategy has been pretty misleading for its customers. The main key attributes of their goals went something along the lines of "BMW sportiness" and "Mercedes-Benz comfort", all in one "four circles" package. The latest Audi A4 is apparently going in the same direction, but throwing a "technology" twist in the features pile. "Vorsprung durch Technik" aka "A lead through technology" became Audi's European slogan in the mid-nineties, while the "Never Follow" was the company's strapline in the US.
We've managed to get our hands on the Audi A4 1.8 TFSI model, with 160 horsepower and 250 Nm (184.4 lb ft) of torque, to see if the company's slogan is still effective in a model that's not the biggest, most comfortable or sportiest in Audi's lineup. Built on Audi's new Multi Longitudinal Platform (MLP), which can also be found under the new Audi Q5, the latest A4 managed to both impress and unimpress us, with the accent put on the former.Continue reading