In the automotive world there is no substitute to power a good old naturally aspirated V8, V10, or V12 all have the capacity to overwhelm the senses. You may never use all the power all of the time but knowing it is there is not too dissimilar to a nuclear-armed nation using its nuclear arsenal as a deterrent to omnipresent threats.
This deterrent manifests itself into what is known as ”mutually assured destruction which is kind of like both sides declaring checkmate at the same time. It’s main purpose is to stop each of the world powers from blowing everyone on the planet into oblivion.
Surely when the naturally aspirated V-engine era is over it will mark the automotive world’s very own mutually assured destruction, Armageddon, the end of times.
Most people will probably never step foot in a V-powered car so the vast majority of people have to make do with a Ford Fiesta or Neesan Micro. These days small capacity engines are getting primed with turbochargers.
Clever scientists at auto companies have found that turbocharging small capacity petrol powered cars yields more powerful, more efficient, and less polluting cars. It’s called downsizing and it’s also a clever, cheaper way to beat tough emissions regulations.
Diesel powered cars are slowly becoming public enemy number one because in layman’s terms, they emit poisonous gases and the EU would like the mutually assured destruction of turbo-diesels, eventually.
So that’s why you are now seeing cars like the Audi A4 being offered with a 1.4-litre, 4-cylinder turbo petrol engine. The upside is that petrol-powered cars are generally quieter and have little to no mechanical vibrations compared to diesels. But are these engines too small?
The A4 was completely rebooted in 2015, from the ground up, it became ever so slightly longer and slightly wider than its predecessor we’re talking about small increases. Its also 120kg lighter.
The exterior design continues to follow the A4 design language very closely, you would be forgiven for thinking that no changes were ever made over its predecessor.
But Audi is the master of design subtlety and the A4 has never looked better. Familiar yes, but now cleaner and sharper looking.
The Interior is typically Audi, quality abounds, it’s solidly built and simply designed less really is more, nice design details are scattered throughout. An Audi interior always provides an inviting driving environment in which to spend time.
However, the A4 is a compact saloon and even an average-height individual like myself felt the seats were a little narrow although the front driving position was spacious the driving position was slightly skewed.
Only when you venture into the back do you get an idea of how big the A4 really is, that is to say, it’s a little tight and if you are over 6ft then you might have to assume the crouch position.
Nevertheless, it is still practical, the boot is a decent 480 litres and you can fold the rear seats flat which opens up a decent-sized cargo bay of many more litres… Ahem.
The ride and handling are fairly predictable but competently engineered the A4 rides a little stiffer than I was expecting yet it is well-damped which provides for an all-round comfortable cruiser on short or long journeys.
The handling is predictable the front-wheel drive setup means you get a little bit of understeer but not as dominant as past Audi’s have tended to be. Because the ride is more comfort-orientated there is body roll when cornering but not too significant to spoil the experience.
The electronic steering is more or less as I was expecting not much feel but I really don’t mind, because the chassis feels stable and composed under load.
The A4 is mostly predictable to drive and with a smaller engine up front carrying less weight you get a slightly sharper turn-in and change of direction at low to mid-speed.
But this test really was about the 1.4-litre TFSI engine, can a small-capacity, turbocharged engine really be as powerful as a larger-capacity engine?
Yes and no is the answer but wait the 1.4-litre TFSI replaces the the 1.8-litre TFSI which was a great, great engine a real ‘blast’ as our American readers say.
While being very efficient for a small capacity engine (44mpg on a combined cycle) the 1.4-litre unit doesn’t feel as accessible as a larger capacity engine, and doesn’t have that low down flexibility that lazy accessibility.
Nevertheless, the 1.4-litre TSFI had a decent 148bhp more than enough power to play with which kicks in best at around 3,00rpm.
You can only spec the 1.4-litre unit with a six-speed manual, no issues there, and while the manual gear changes are a standard practice I would have liked a more firmer/slicker reassuring action between gear shifts.
The A4 Sport comes loaded with Audi’s Drive Select, a three-mode setting that changes the engine, throttle and steering map at the touch of a button. Trust me to leave in Dynamic mode because everything is better.
Of course, these days manufacturers are offering a dizzying array of in-car technology and this being a press car Audi stuffed in as much optional kit as they wanted.
So in addition to a 7.0-inch infotainment system, I got that brilliant digital instrument binnacle or as Audi call it the Virtual Cockpit a high-resolution 12.3-inch TFT instrument display that can double up as a massive sat-nav screen.
Other neat technology included heads up display, self-parking function (parking system plus) which seems to have become so common that no one bothers to talk about how good the system actually is.
But if you can’t afford expensive optional extras then fear not even the entry level A4 1.4-litre TFSI comes loaded with LED daytime running lights, Stop-start, Keyless go, 3-zone climate control, smartphone interface, cruise control, DAB, Bluetooth Front and rear parking sensors.
Sport models ride on 17-inch alloys and gets a boosted sound system and front Sport Seats. Audi offer different packs that combine this feature and or you can simply upgrade to the top-of-the-range S-Line trim. All in all it will cost you.
But whatever trim level you go for never forget to always upgrade to 18-inch alloy wheels, forget about the technology it’s the first impression that counts.
Should you buy the Audi A4? Personally speaking, I like a bit more space and while the power of the 1.4-litre TFSI is delivered quietly and smoothly I would like a little bit more flexibility in accessing the power.
However, my preferences are specific to my tastes so I reckon for many interested punters these little details won’t be too much of an obstacle. The A4 Sport, 1.4-TFSI starts at £27k with no options the test car came closer to £32k with all the options added up.
To buy or not to buy that is the real question only you can answer.