Thursday, March 31, 2011

All New Audi A4 1.8 TFSI (Five-Millionth Audi A4)

Did you know that it basically took Audi 126.5 million years to finally agree with everyone alive that having a tall 4,6 or 8 cylinder engine set up high and way in front of the front axle does not do wonders to the handling of their front wheel drive sedans? Having driven the current A6, the previous generation A4 (B7 series) as well as the earlier ones too, I have to say that massive understeer is the preferred way for these front wheel drive Audis to corner.

On the B7 A4 I remember driving it hard and it felt so nose heavy that even with a pointy nose it felt as if the steering was the one end of the stick and the other end was the large elephant hanging off of it. That A4 was a pretty good car and in 2.0TFSI form was a fast ride but the high speed handling on a twisty road was really bad. I would assume this trait would be lessened in the Quattro or All wheel drive version of the cars, but in the front wheel drive A4, it basically was awful.

Now this brings us to the current B8 Audi A4 1.8 TFSI launched around two years ago. The car I tried is owned by a friend of mine and it is a car that is very familiar to me. His ride pictured above is the 1.8TFSI 160bhp spec that comes with the larger 18inch tires and rims. It looks so much better than the stock 17inch rims that the standard car is specced with.

I suppose it was because of nearly universal criticism of mega understeer that Audi had finally decided to re-engineer the engine and gearbox placement of the A4. The wheels are now at least 8cm forward compared to the earlier setup and this equates to better handling as well steering feel. The car does not drive like you were sitting just slightly behind an arrow's head in flight. You actually have a car in which does not fight the laws of physics all the time unlike the earlier versions.

This time it feels like you're driving a front wheel drive car with a normal transverse engine instead of a longitudinally placed one (even though it is still longitudinally placed). Imagine driving a slightly larger Honda Civic (in terms of nippiness). This is the first 4 door front wheel drive Audi ever that behaves decently well.

There is very little sign of it being nose heavy like its predecessors. It is a car which you can fling into corners, of course there's none of the tail out antics being a front wheel drive and it will only show mild understeer at speeds in excess of 150km/h on high speed sweeping corners. On tighter corners, it is poised and predictable, with the A4 managing to turn accurately and without much of the artificial steering sensation of the previous variable assist steering wheel. It still lacks feel, but it is better than the previous A4.
Audi's convention of internal numbering go behind a logical series from the 80 to the A4 with the first release selected as the B5-series, followed by the B6, B7, and the present B8. In an auto show in Frankfurt, B8 series of the Audi A4 was launched in 2007 and the Geneva auto show in 2008. At present, B8 engines include both petrol and diesel engines. The petrol engines offer 1.8 liter, 2.0 liter and 3.2 liter as well as 2.0 liter, 2.7 liter and 3.0 liter diesel engines. If you buy second hand Audi A4, check out different classified websites online.

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