Look closely and you’ll notice that the driver in these shots keeps changing. It’s a subtle change, true, but striped grey suddenly becomes purple plaid, blond hair becomes brown, and – bizarrely – a pair of glasses becomes a beard. Several hundred tricks of the light or have we been going overboard with the photoshop?
No. As you’ve hopefully already guessed, there are two different drivers behind the wheel of this Audi A4. One is evo Middle East deputy editor (and frequent crankandpiston contributor) Phill Tromans, and the other is me. You join us deep in the heart of the Hatta Mountains, where we are currently putting the new A4 through its paces.
How exactly? Well that brings me nicely to the three-click stretch of meandering tarmac the Audi’s remodelled nose is now pointing towards; a veritable automotive playground of fast sweeping bends and tight left and right-handers. On offer in the A4 is 272hp, a Quattro four-wheel drive configuration, and S Line sports suspension.
This could be interesting, and after a particularly tense game of eeny meeny miny mo, I get first dibs behind the wheel. As I fire up the 3.0-litre V6, Phill sets up shop in the passenger seat.
We’re both pretty keen on the looks of the mid-size Audi, the pearl effect Misano Red a welcome addition to – what at first glance at least – is a pretty understated design. I’ll admit I’m not quite as taken with the looks as Phill (who’s particularly keen on the taut, sleek look of the body lines running down the side) but there are some neat little touches that have struck me; the almost menacing strike across the headlights; the low stance; the cheeky air inlets in the front bumper; and the natty 19” titanium look five-spoke alloys. It is a handsome machine, though you’d be forgiven for not noticing immediately.
A quick wallop of my right foot to the necessary pedal, and we’re soon sprinting out of the starting blocks. We’ve decided against comfort and efficiency in favour of dynamic drive mode for this run, astonishingly.
Acceleration is both linear and slightly aggressive, which considering this beast will do 0-100kph in just 5.4 seconds and hits an electronically limited top speed of 250kph is hardly surprising. There’s no lag as I flick my way through the gears, and I can feel myself being jerked back into the seat as the needle leaps off 1000 revs on the odometer.
The first corner is soon upon us. Knocking the gearbox down to third with the left paddle, I throw the A4 into a tight right-hander, which is quickly followed by an equally tight left turn. Even despite this quick shift in momentum, there’s no disapproving squeal from the tyres, the four-wheel drive configuration keeping the balance in check. The corner begins to open up and I start to gently feed the power in, wondering when the wheels will lose grip and skitter across the hot asphalt.