Home Articles LEAD: Motoring: REFINED DISTINCTION

LEAD: Motoring: REFINED DISTINCTION

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Audi A4 1.4

This is the all-new Audi A4 that was launched late last year. Even though there is no striking difference from its predecessor in appearance, this is actually a totally new vehicle. To start with, the new headlights have an all-new cleaner shape and feature LED lights as an option. The overall body looks more refined and squared off, in keeping with the new Audi look that started with the launch of the Q7. The grill is larger with chrome vertical slats and a more pronounced shape.

The side silhouette does not look different, but the midway and lower creases are more pronounced and almost join the headlights to the taillights. The new taillights make the rear end look slimmer and more modern. The overall rear end is in keeping with the A3 sedan’s sporty rear end.

The biggest change is on the inside. Open the driver’s door and you are greeted by an all-new four-spoke steering wheel with a smaller rectangular centre hub. The rather flat dashboard top adds spaciousness to the front. The all-new slim-line infotainment screen  is fixed on the top of the drop down section of the dashboard. The gearbox lever, which is a copy of the one featured in the A8, has been moved further back to accommodate the new position of the MMI controller. The new minimalistic dashboard features almost no buttons and the buttons for the radio are now positioned in front of the MMI controller. One new feature is a virtual cockpit which starts out as a digital display in place of the speedometer and rev counter.

These features are good, but the navigation system is a bit cumbersome to use. Personally, I feel that Audi have complicated the input system in trying to simplify it. The rest of the interior is simple and modern. The overall leg room front and back is excellent so too is the boot space.

On the road, the 1,4-litre four-cylinder TFSi motor delivers a healthy 110 kW.  Road holding is excellent and overall steering feedback is not bad.

On the whole, the new A4 has definitely surpassed its predecessor in refinement and distinction in looks. The 1,4 litre is not the best fit for a vehicle of this size but it does a decent job; I would have preferred the 2,0 litre, though. That being said, the new A4 is definitely a worthy competitor in the medium-sized executive luxury sedan market.

SPECIFICATIONS

Engine:                1,4 ℓ  4-cylinder Turbo
Power:                 110 kW
Torque:                250 Nm
0–100 km/h:         8,5 seconds
Fuel:                     Average 4,9  ℓ /100 km
CO2:                      114 g/km
Price:                    From R476 500

VW Caddy Maxi 2.0 TDI

Since its launch, the VW Caddy has created a niche market for itself in being one of the first seven-seater vehicles that was based on a small hatchback, namely the VW Polo. The Caddy seemed to appeal to buyers who did not have the capital outlay for a minivan or bigger SUV, or preferred to drive a smaller vehicle but still needed the space and versatility.

The updated Caddy has a refreshed appearance, in keeping with the overall new VW look. The new squared-off headlights, smoothened bonnet and minimalistic grill give the Caddy a more sophisticated, cleaner look. The raised roof makes the vehicle not only look bigger than it actually is, but also adds a whole lot more to the practicality and versatility. The side has double sliding doors to enable easy access from either side. The rear doors are to allow you to see through the larger door in your rear-view mirror.

This being the Maxi version, it has an extended body which allows you to have an extra row of seats while still allowing a for a fair-sized luggage section. But if you need to load more in the vehicle, you need to plan ahead. Even though the backrest of the third row of seats does fold forward, it does not give load space from the floor. Don’t despair, as the entire third row can be removed with a few pulls and tugs.

Entering the vehicle is easy, thanks to the raised roof height. All the seats are comfortable and the leg room is decent, even for long distances.

The driver’s position is good but feels a bit too open thanks to the raised roof. Finding a comfortable driving position is easy and the dashboard is typical VW. As the vehicle is based on a smaller hatch, the space between the front seats is not enormous. On the road, the car feels easy to drive. The 2,0-litre diesel motor felt strong and was surprisingly quiet.

On the whole, the Caddy Maxi has been designed for those who need to carry people around the city and long distance. It’s easy to drive and frugal on fuel, but it takes some practice to perfect reverse-park. I would add the optional self-parking to make this the perfect city people-mover vehicle.

SPECIFICATIONS

Engine:                2,0 ℓ  4-cylinder Turbo Diesel
Power:                103 kW
Torque:                320 Nm
0–100 km/h:        10,9 Seconds
Fuel:                     Average 6,3  ℓ /100 km
CO2:                     166 g/km
Price:                    From R434 900

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