B9 A4 Review


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Feb 6, 2012
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Hey guys,

I managed to get a car for overnight so that I could try out the Matrix LED headlights and thought that it might be good to write a quick review of my thoughts since I had a B8.5 A4 as well. I had a 190PS 2.0TFSI S-Tronic in SE trim, much like the one that bluemoona3246 posted in #13 of this thread http://www.audi-sport.net/xf/threads/new-a4.256909/.

I drove about 130 miles on the dual carriageway and got to try out a bunch of the tech as well as get an idea of efficiency and the general feel of the car.

I think that this is something that has been covered by a plenty people already and the general view is that it's an evolution rather than revolution. I think I agree with that, it's very similar to the B8.5 but has a little more edginess to it I'd say. I like the look of the front and rear LED headlights and actually don't mind the wing mirrors being mounted to the doors like the A3 and TT, I don't think that it takes anything away from the overall look of the car to be honest.

As I had the SE version there wasn't any leather seats but the leather on the steering wheel was soft as well as all the other surfaces that were covered in cow hide. The overall build quality was up with what you'd expect of a new Audi, no squeaks or rattles and all the fit and finish was perfect. The car had the lighting pack and I really liked the lighting in the doors and around your knees at the central console, I think that it adds a really nice high quality feel to the cabin at night. I added LEDs to all of my interior lights on my B8.5 but the B9 I had came standard fitted throughout and they also add to the interior I think.

At the time of writing I hadn't really thrown it around a whole bunch but it still felt really solid and didn't tramline like the B8.5 did. That said, it could be a result of the thinner rubber (225 versus 255)... The little bit that I did down some back roads felt really good and I didn't really notice a whole bunch of front end push at a fairly representative 'fun' driving speed so that's better than my B8.5 was for sure.

The ride quality was better than the B8.5 but that could easily be down to the SE springs versus the S-Line springs that I had on mine. I think to compare like for like I'd have to try out an S-Line with the same size wheel and such I think. I think that I'd also like to try out the S-Line adaptive suspension too, adaptive shocks aren't something I've had the chance to try apart from in a Porsche Cayman which just made your teeth rattle out when in 'stiff' mode.

One thing that was immediately noticeable over the B8.5 once I was cruising was the lack of road or wind noise. It was really impressive. I think that it would be even better with the privacy glass that includes the acoustic glass in the front as well (I believe).

I'm wasn't too bothered about the engine or transmission because I'm looking at getting the S4 but it was smooth and had a decent amount of torque for the real world. Unless you like to specifically have a decent amount of power, as I do, then I think that something like this would be more than enough for day to day driving.

This was the real reason that I wanted the test drive.

I wanted to try out the Matrix LED headlights which I think are really impressive. I don't think that they're probably quite as good as the A8 versions that I've seen but I'd say that they are on par with the A6. I thought that they were really good when driving B roads in the dark and really lit up the road as far as was possible at any given point. They also have turning lights that activate during the tighter turns which are really useful. I tried to capture it on the GoPro, hopefully it's a halfway decent video for you guys.

It was my first time using the adaptive cruise and it also had the lane assist. On the dual carriageway it literally drove itself, I just kept one finger on the wheel in case of an issue but it was really good for a 60 mile trip. With the packs that were on the car it had traffic sign recognition and I found that you could set it to change the adaptive cruise speed automatically so you don't even have to alter the setting yourself. Might just be the lazy in me but I thought that was great. :) It can get a bit confused on the odd occasion so I think that to see if you want it you should really take a drive with it before ticking the box.

I really liked the virtual cockpit but I would say that it's probably not one of those things that would be a 'must have' for me. I definitely like it and as it's included in one of the packs that I want to add I think it's a good deal in that regard.

I tried the automatic parallel parking and it was impressive but I know that it's a system that's been used in a number of VWs for a while. I don't know if the system does parking in car parks like the Q7 version but I'll try to find a place to give it a shot and update if I find that it does it because that'll be something new for me for sure. :)

The controversial centre screen really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I was expecting it to look very out of place but once I was in the car and driving I didn't even notice it in terms of being an eyesore. I actually found that I really liked it to be honest. I can't imagine that I would ever have folded it away even if I was able.

The only other thing that I can think of that would be worth mentioning was the Carplay on the centre screen. It took me a while to get it working but once I did it was pretty cool and was nice to be able to see messages coming in and get the car to read them out and to see missed calls, etc. I thought that it was a cool interface and if it was my car and it automatically connected when I got in I think it would be really cool rather than having to take ages setting it up. Haha.

One thing that I was surprised by was the fact that all A4s now have push button start regardless of whether you select the advanced key option. There's no longer even a place to physically put the key in the dash board! So really if you pay for the advanced key (which I probably would because I like leaving it in my pocket) then it's really only for the ability to not have to unlock the car before you get to it and just pull the handle instead. I like that but I think that a lot of people will weigh it up and find they don't find it worth the money now you get a start button regardless.

So... I think that the overall feelings are that I really liked the car and am happy enough with the decisions and options that I'd thought about getting. I think that I'd like to try the S4 with the 8 speed auto to make sure that I like the overall powertrain.

In the meantime if anyone has any questions then pop them in here and I'll try to answer. If there are any picture requests I have the car until tomorrow morning so can try to help out.

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Can you take some photographs? I think it's a nice car, maybe I'll get one in the future, when there's some family members but not for me right now :)
Sorry, I'd already dropped the car off by the time you posted this. I did take a little drive video to get a view of the Virtual Cockpit and the ACC working if anyone wants to take a quick look though.

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Thanks for that review Dan - very interesting. I'm not sure if I'm missing something but why are the matrix LED headlights so good?
I imagine that I'll take a test drive in a B9 S4 when it is available.
I just like the headlights because you can leave them on high beam and they'll illuminate as much of the road as possible while not blinding other drivers. They illuminate sections of the road rather than just turning the high beam on and off like the high beam assist does.

If that doesn't make enough sense then just look it up on YouTube and there's a good video showing how they work against an illuminated wall.

I want the S4 too but figured they probably wouldn't have a demo as fully loaded as this one and took the opportunity to drive it while I could. I'll get a shot in the S4 once it's out to make sure it's the one I want I think...
Love the interior, but the exterior just looks to dull in my eyes.
Nice to read a non-journo report. However for me, the whole car is ruined by that flippin laptop screen dumped on the dash. Doesnt matter how it drives etc, I just couldnt live with it.Shame that as, i need to change my b8.
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That's what I thought when I saw the pictures of it but to be honest once I'd driven it for a bit I never even noticed it being an eyesore. I think if I had the option of it folding away it would likely be out all the time anyway. Try it, you'll like it.
That's what I thought when I saw the pictures of it but to be honest once I'd driven it for a bit I never even noticed it being an eyesore. I think if I had the option of it folding away it would likely be out all the time anyway. Try it, you'll like it.

Thank you for your write up and feedback. I thought the screen looked a bit of an eyesore on the press photos I've seen but not as ugly as the Mercedes one. Glad to hear that in real use you don't notice as the A4 looks as though it might be a good option for my next car.
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My real concern with the LCD screen is its so obvious - i can see the car being broken into with some dumb kid thinking its a mounted iPad. Damging the car until he works out its attached!
That's my concern too. My neighbour said there had been someone going round trying car doors and someone had stuff stolen from their car. I don' t leave anything of value in the car but the new A4 screen looks like it could be removed. On my 1 series it's obvious screen is an integral part of the dash.
Does anyone mount an iPad on their car? Mercs have had similar displays for a while and I've not heard anyone complain about them. BMW too although they don't look stuck on like the a4 and Mercs. Still like others said they're not bad once you see them and it certainly wouldn't be enough to put me off buying one

@Daggerit how well does the self driving traffic assist work? Something you'd use often or a bit of a gimmick?
@Daggerit how well does the self driving traffic assist work? Something you'd use often or a bit of a gimmick?

It worked really well to be honest! I don't know if I had it going 100% the way it should have but with me it needed an initial touch of the accelerator pedal to get it going and then it would stay a safe distance behind the car in front as well as keeping itself between the lines and would do that up to whatever speed you have the adaptive cruise set at (or the speed sign it noticed most recently and automatically set its own adaptive cruise to!). It would then slow down and stop when traffic did and apply the handbrake as well as initiating the stop-start system. Then just a prod of the accelerator to start it off again when traffic budged a bit.

If the traffic continued to flow slowly then I think that you'd see the biggest benefit as it would do everything and you wouldn't have to even interact that little bit to prod the pedal to be honest!
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Sounds good, might make the commute to work a slightly more relaxing affair. I'm guessing it doesn't take notice of traffic lights or yellow box junctions and will need to take over to stop it?
Yeah you're right. You can't sit and read the newspaper or you'll end up in trouble but it actually makes sitting in traffic quite relaxing rather than stressful or a pain. It's one of the new bits of tech I'll 100% be putting on mine when I eventually mange to afford it.
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Did you have Audi Sound System 10 speaker by any chance? If so, any comments on how it sounds?
That is actually what it had.

I came from a car with a relatively bad speaker system so it was much better than that for sure. Overall I don't think that anyone would be disappointed unless they're picky about their music. For normal commuting and things it was more than enough, especially since the car is so ****** quiet inside! Haha
I'm having a test drive in one whilst my a3 is in for its service, I'm very much looking forward it...
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I am having a week long loaner from my local dealer next week.
Its a 3.0 tdi avant quattro sline with a lot of extras, list comes to about £55k.

Looking forward to trying it out good and proper.
If anyone has any suggestions as to what to try out or would like information or even video of any particular features then let me know.
I'd basically recommend running through as much of the features as possible, especially things like the adaptive cruise with the lane departure and things. Definitely impressive.
Well I have the car a 3.0Tdi Quattro in Tango Red Saloon till Monday and have just driven it home.

I drove there in my B8.1 BE 3.0 Tdi Quattro and back in the new one and I can say quite comfortable that the development is immense in so many different ways.

When you park it next to a B8 it becomes quite obvious that apart from the overall profile there is very little similarity between the cars, the B9 being very much more angular and in sline spec looks pretty good.

The performance of the car is quite a significant improvement over my car , the pick up is immediate and you are very quickly travelling at very high speeds. I am planning to wait for the S4 but the performance from this is not lacking anything although its so refined you could do with a bit more aural feedback.

This one has a lot of options many that I would ignore as they don't interest me. The one option I am changing my view on is HUD, I presumed I would find it unnecessary with the virtual cockpit but actually I ended up using it more. If it were a choice between the two I would have the HUD. I quite like the virtual cockpit but not sure I would find it that much more useful than traditional dials. The HUD shows your speed and the speed limit so at all times you know what your doing. You can also set the adaptive cruise to obey all speed limits.

Apple carplay is a joy to use, you can voice text and make calls all with just one button on the steering wheel. I am told the android one is not as well developed yet.

Have a journey into Wales planned for tomorrow so will be able to update further when I have tried out a few more of the toys.
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I've driven the 2.0tdi 150 manual (suprisingly nippy with good gear box) and the 2.0tdi 190 Quattro S tronic which was absolutely rapid and really surprised me, especially coming from a 2.0tfsi 211.
I think there are a lot of performance gains from shedding over 100kg of weight from the car, they certainly feel lighter and more nimble.
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Yes definitely. They were a great drive and I pushed them hard down country roads etc. They are certainly a sporty drive