Volkswagen up! – Geneva Motor Show 2016

Many exciting things are due to arrive at the Geneva Motor Show 2016. It takes place from the 3rd-13th of March and will hold exhibits from over 150 exhibitors.

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But from Volkswagen, they have announced a new up!. The up! is the brands supermini which rivals the likes of the Skoda Citigo, SEAT Mii, (Well, they’re actually all the same car), the Opel Karl and the Hyundai i10.

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But the new up! is given a new 90hp engine and there are hints of electric varieties in there too. Could be step closer to a hot supermini, an up! GTI or even an up! GT?

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Although we could be waiting a while for these versions, VW have given us a Cross and a 2 seater version. They have also spruced it up a bit by adding new exterior paint colours, seat fabrics, dashpads and decals, all giving the up! and individual feel. Occupants can now use more features on the infotainment system allowing access to Sat Nav, music and vehicle data when used with the Volkswagen app. Something else we’re particularly interested by is the new sound system. VW have teamed up with BeatsAudio to give the up! a 300 watt sound system. Now THAT, we have to hear!

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Audi A4 – Review

The Audi A4 is part of a long standing ‘battle of the executive saloons’ along with the BMW 3-Series and the Mercedes C-Class. The A4 is now into its seventh generation and I reckon they have done a pretty good job.

A Few Facts:
Model Tested: Audi A4 150bhp SE Manual
Engine: 2.0 diesel  – 150hp and 320Nm
Transmission: Manual, front wheel drive
Price: The A4 range starts from €35,800, with the SE starting from €37,750. As tested – €57, 291.

During my week of Audi ownership, I felt like I had made it in the world. I was treated differently on the road, given more respect even. Getting in and out of the car in public places, people actually looked at me. Not just looking, but as if they were making remarks. Good remarks. This could have been because they saw a 21 year old getting out of a 2015 Audi A4 but I put it down to the sheer beauty of the A4. It hasn’t changed an awful lot from the previous model but its the subtle changes that has made it even better looking.

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The design of the A4 is larger than the previous model and looks a lot more special. Along with the likes of the Q7, the A4 is built on a bigger platform giving the A4 a more grown up look. This doesn’t mean that Audi has made the car big just to show off but it means that the interior is a more spacious place to be. In the rear, passengers have ample leg room.  I had plenty of passengers scabbing lifts off me over the week, mainly adults and not once did any complain about rear leg room. Do bear in mind, I am 6 foot so as you can guess my seat was rather far back. In addition to this, head room has improved too. Passengers now sit lower in the car giving them that extra bit of head clearance.

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Space is plentiful in the A4, including the boot. With the 40:60 split seats up, it boasts 480 litres. This is on par with the Mercedes C-Class and the BMW 3-Series. With the seats folded, this is increased to 965l. The rear lip is low enough to be able to load and unload the boot with ease. As you can see, I could get into the boot and quite happily lie there all day!

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On the road, the first word that springs to mind for the A4 is refined. Cliché, I know, but its true. The only thing that reminds you that you’re actually in a German executive saloon, not a luxurious lounge, is the slight vibration from the gear stick. The new 2.0 TDi Ultra engine is quiet and very smooth. Gear shifts from the six speed manual are effortless with the help of a decently weighted clutch for such a large saloon. In terms of driving, the new A4 has improved over the previous model. The car is 120kg lighter and my test car was fitted with Sports Suspension with Damping Control, which is a €1,365 option. In comparison to its competitors, the A4 isn’t the most exciting car to drive.  It has 5 different driving modes; Efficiency, Dynamic, Comfort, Individual and Auto. I found myself using mostly Efficiency and Dynamic. Surprisingly, the driver can feel a difference in Dynamic mode. It stiffens up the suspension and throttle and gives the steering a more engaging feel. This is all in small quantities but benefits the handling of the A4 to give it a slightly sportier feel. The A4 can get from 0-100km/h in 8.9 seconds and can reach a top speed of 210km/h. However, where the A4 is in its element is on the motorway. My test car was equipped with adaptive cruise control so sitting at the designated speed was done with ease.

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Audi claims that the car can achieve 3.8l/100km(74mpg) but over the week I achieved an average of 6.2l/100km (46mpg). Co2 emissions on the 150hp  2.0 TDi Ultra engine is just 99g/km so tax for the year is only €180. This is similar to its rivals.

My test car came almost fully loaded with optional extras. Starting off with the infotainment system. There is pretty much nothing that it cannot do. My car had the rather pricey €2,500 Audi Technology Package. This included Audi MMI Navigation Plus, Audi Smartphone Interface, Audi Virtual Cockpit and Audi Phonebox with Wireless Charging. The Virtual Cockpit is a must have. It was first featured on the new TT but has since made its way into the A4. For the most part, it is quite user friendly and looks great in place of the traditional dials. Users can switch between the trip computer, radio and the Sat Nav by using buttons on the multi functional steering wheel. The system also features LTE therefore turning the car into a WiFi hotspot. The system also allows multiple phones to be connected to it. Somewhere to go when you’re told to go out and play!

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However as advanced as the infotainment system is, completing some simple tasks can be quite complicated. For example, the head up display disappeared one night as I got into the car. The only reason I noticed it was gone was when I went to see what the speed limit on the road was, thanks to the Traffic Sign Recognition as part of the Business Package. Though trying to find how to turn it back on again took a lot of going ‘in and out’ of menus and options. I eventually gave up and did without it for the rest of the week. The other problem I found was when I connected my phone through Bluetooth to the audio system. I use an app called Deezer, similar to Spotify, to stream music. When a new song came on I had to mute/pause and unmute/unpause the song to get it to start playing. I found this quite irritating.

As part of the €2,099 Business Pack, owners get Adaptive Cruise Control, Traffic Sign Recognition, Storage Package and High Beam Assist. I found myself using the adaptive cruise control quite a lot, especially in low speed areas. This was to avoid breaking the 30/50/60km/h speed limit and meant that if the car in front slowed down, so did the A4. In other words, there is less chance of running into the back of someone.

The A4 being a larger car than before you’d presume that it is going to be more difficult to park. This is not the case. With help from the City Assistance Pack, the A4 was a pleasure to manoeuvre. The €2,170 option includes, along with some other aids, what I think is one of the best features about the car; a 360 degree camera. This interesting feature shows the car from a birds eye view so the driver can see all of the car’s surroundings while parking or reversing. This makes it easier to get in and out of tight spaces.

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To conclude, the new Audi A4 is a serious improvement on its previous model. If looking to buy a car in its class, it should be taken into serious consideration. If it is a car filled with the latest technology and cool gadgets you are looking for then look no further, but you would want to have a deep pocket for Audi’s pricey options. If you’re after a more engaging car to drive, one that might excite you getting to and from the business meetings on the backroads, the A4 leaves a lot to be desired. But in saying this, the A4s interior is one that competitors need to watch out for.

Ian

Photography – Darragh McKenna

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Audi A4 – Collection

Today is an important day for Drivers Edition. Today is the day that I got handed the keys to my very first press car, and might I say I could have done a lot worse. Let me present to you, the Audi A4…

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My press car is equipped with the 150bhp 2.0 diesel with a manual gearbox. First thoughts of the engine is that it is extremely smooth and rather quiet for a 2.0 diesel, that is the new line of Ultra engines for you!

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But most importantly, the A4 looks extremely handsome. The paint on our test car is called Manhatten Grey and suits the car very well. My parents drive an Aruba Blue B8 A4 and I thought that that was always the colour to have. Well was I wrong…

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The interior is half alcantara and half leather in Rock Grey, but is more like beige. The cabin is a very nice place to be. There are gadgets and toys galore so I am still trying to used to them but they seem easy to use so far. Our test car is equipped with the Audi Virtual Cockpit.

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So, our first impressions of the new A4 are all well and good. I will be posting some updates on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter so make sure to follow us on my week of Audi-ness.

Ian