ABU DHABI. 21st June 2008.ROAD TEST. The new Audi A4. FOR ARTS AND LIFE . Stephen Lock  /  The National.  *** Local Caption ***  SL-audi-008.jpgSL-audi-008.jpg
The new A4 has been substantially revamped.

Audi A4 2008



I've never been all that good at golf. I really want to be. The idea of strolling around a lush, green lawn with a few friends, enjoying cigars and knocking a ball around really sounds like a nice way to spend a weekend. But when you measure your score by how many balls you lose, it's easy to feel a little frustrated, so I tend to avoid golf courses altogether. But I recently spent an evening at the Abu Dhabi Golf and Equestrian Club, and I finally had a great time on the course. Well, in the car park to be more accurate. Audi had set up a small obstacle course there to show off the handling prowess of its all-new A4 compact sedan. Why there? Not sure exactly, but showing off this new, stylish model to golfers who show up in their BMWs and Mercedes wouldn't hurt.

Whatever the reasons, I'm glad they did. Both the 1.8T and the 3.2-litre FSI Quattro versions were there to thrash around. Tests were set up to simulate emergency lane changes with and without heavy braking, as well as a longer obstacle course for handling at lower speeds. It was all good fun, but more importantly, it showed what Audi's bread and butter can do. With traction control, electronic brake force distribution and an electronic stabilisation programme, the A4 tracked stable and straight, no matter how quick the steering input was with the lane changes on that dusty pavement. And stopping both cars was equally impressive, with no loss of control under braking in a sharp turn. The kind of things you'd want your mother's car to be capable of, just in case.

Indeed, the previous-generation A4 was no slouch in handling, but Audi has really raised its game with the new version, and not just in its road manners. Now with a wheelbase 165 millimetres longer than its predecessor, and a more sculpted body that follows the family lines of the A5 and A6, the new A4 seems to have more presence on the road than the last one, and it compares well in looks against its German competition - though I still think Mercedes has the edge there. It also gets the aggressive, gaping grille and LED running lights that come on the rest of the Audi line, which definitely adds to the A4's cachet.

Inside, the materials used are second to none. The interior of my tester, a 1.8T version, was completely black save for a few swipes of polished aluminium - a bit dark for my taste, but the feel of the leather and switchgear made up for the lack of colour (though I'm sure a swatch of burgundy or beige wouldn't hurt). But at night, the warm glow of the red-lit gauges was soothing. The Symphony radio was top-notch and, as every luxury car maker seems to think they need, Audi has its all-encompassing central controller system. Called the MMI (Multi-Media Interface), the dash-mounted joystick and buttons look after the climate, stereo, navigation and mobile phone interface. It takes a while to get used to, and it hasn't made me a complete fan of these kinds of systems, but it works reasonably well. In fact, BMW seemed to have emulated it somewhat by adding more buttons to its iDrive, like the MMI has, just to reduce the number of screens you have to filter through on the dashboard display.

What impresses the most from this new A4 is its handling. As I had the 1.8T, a turbo-charged four-cylinder model, it was front-wheel drive, not the Quattro all-wheel drive the 3.2-litre has. But you'd never know the difference on normal roads, even under quicker driving. With a weight bias that slightly favours the front, understeer was almost non-existent. The car tracked flat and true around corners, and the feel through the wheel - which is connected to a variable steering box - was very informative. In fact, during the car park tests, I favoured the 1.8 over the 3.2, which felt much heavier (mind you, it got up to a higher speed, but still ...). Perhaps the Quattro would be the vehicle of choice where bad weather means ice and snow, instead of blazing heat.

The engine, however, was a contentious issue for me. First off, I like turbochargers - what a great way to extract more power from a smaller engine. At speed, the 160- horsepower rating Audi gives this four-cylinder seems to be a low figure, as the car doesn't seem to run out of power. There is no problem keeping up with or passing traffic, a prerequisite when you're entering the luxury car market. The engine's relatively tiny size makes it fantastic on fuel, too.

But accelerating from a standstill is another story. Perhaps its best to actually get out of the car and push it up to a rolling start, get in and take off - that's how sloth-like it is from a stop. In fact, a couple of times I wanted to make a quick lane change from a stalled queue of cars, but aborted mid-attempt because it wasn't quick enough to avoid the oncoming vehicles behind me. For many people, this might not be a big deal - they might value the frugality over performance - but I'm not sure I could live with it.

But it's the biggest bugaboo about a car that, in every other department, deserves more respect than it gets. BMW and Mercedes get all the glory in this field, where Audi is still the "alternative choice". But the more people who try this A4, the sooner their attitudes will change. nvorano@thenational.ae

TOURNAMENT INFO

Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier

Jul 3- 14, in the Netherlands
The top two teams will qualify to play at the World T20 in the West Indies in November

UAE squad
Humaira Tasneem (captain), Chamani Seneviratne, Subha Srinivasan, Neha Sharma, Kavisha Kumari, Judit Cleetus, Chaya Mughal, Roopa Nagraj, Heena Hotchandani, Namita D’Souza, Ishani Senevirathne, Esha Oza, Nisha Ali, Udeni Kuruppuarachchi

How to wear a kandura

Dos

  • Wear the right fabric for the right season and occasion 
  • Always ask for the dress code if you don’t know
  • Wear a white kandura, white ghutra / shemagh (headwear) and black shoes for work 
  • Wear 100 per cent cotton under the kandura as most fabrics are polyester

Don’ts 

  • Wear hamdania for work, always wear a ghutra and agal 
  • Buy a kandura only based on how it feels; ask questions about the fabric and understand what you are buying
Third Test

Day 3, stumps

India 443-7 (d) & 54-5 (27 ov)
Australia 151

India lead by 346 runs with 5 wickets remaining

 


 

Honeymoonish

Director: Elie El Samaan

Starring: Nour Al Ghandour, Mahmoud Boushahri

Rating: 3/5

At a glance - Zayed Sustainability Prize 2020

Launched: 2008

Categories: Health, energy, water, food, global high schools

Prize: Dh2.2 million (Dh360,000 for global high schools category)

Winners’ announcement: Monday, January 13

 

Impact in numbers

335 million people positively impacted by projects

430,000 jobs created

10 million people given access to clean and affordable drinking water

50 million homes powered by renewable energy

6.5 billion litres of water saved

26 million school children given solar lighting

SPECS

Engine: 1.5-litre turbo

Power: 181hp

Torque: 230Nm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Starting price: Dh79,000

On sale: Now

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

WHAT IS A BLACK HOLE?

1. Black holes are objects whose gravity is so strong not even light can escape their pull

2. They can be created when massive stars collapse under their own weight

3. Large black holes can also be formed when smaller ones collide and merge

4. The biggest black holes lurk at the centre of many galaxies, including our own

5. Astronomers believe that when the universe was very young, black holes affected how galaxies formed

SCORES IN BRIEF

Lahore Qalandars 186 for 4 in 19.4 overs
(Sohail 100,Phil Salt 37 not out, Bilal Irshad 30, Josh Poysden 2-26)
bt Yorkshire Vikings 184 for 5 in 20 overs
(Jonathan Tattersall 36, Harry Brook 37, Gary Ballance 33, Adam Lyth 32, Shaheen Afridi 2-36).

Small Victories: The True Story of Faith No More by Adrian Harte
Jawbone Press

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

RESULT

Esperance de Tunis 1 Guadalajara 1 
(Esperance won 6-5 on penalties)
Esperance: Belaili 38’
Guadalajara: Sandoval 5’

Race card

5pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (Turf) 1,600m
5.30pm: Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,600m
6pm: Arabian Triple Crown Round-1 Listed (PA) Dh230,000 (T) 1,600m
6.30pm: Wathba Stallions Cup Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 1,400m
7pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,200m
7.30pm: Handicap (TB) Dh100,000 (T) 2,400m

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Consoles: PC, PlayStation
Rating: 2/5

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now


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