A4 has understated styling that would appeal to low-profile executives; Passat is more flashy.
On the exterior, the R-Line package gives the Passat a sportier demeanour compared to other variants, with sporty upgrades in the form of 18-inch alloy wheels, a “fiercer” grille, “racier” bumpers, extended side sills, a glossy black diffuser and chrome-plated tailpipe outlets.
In contrast, the A4 is a plain- Jane car with 16-inch wheels and no attempt to look like an Audi Sport wannabe. However, the A4’s quieter design would appeal to corporate types who prefer some degree of understatement in their corporate rides.
I expected the driving experiences provided by the A4 and Passat to be drastically different, since the former is an economy-oriented model while the other is more extroverted and has 30hp more horsepower.
Yes, the Passat is noticeably quicker off the line and in the mid-range, but its character differs little to that of the A4. Both possess loads of refinement in power delivery, engine noise, and seating comfort for driver and passengers alike.
The Audi’s 7-speed dual-clutch S tronic gives it an advantage in highway cruising refinement, along with superior fuel economy in light-load driving at constant speed, all undoubtedly aided by the B-cycle mode.
On the other hand, the Passat with its 6-speed dual-clutch DSG offers more energetic performance, yet it too is refined at cruising speeds.
In this two-way shoot-out, there is no clear winner in the ride-and-handling department, even though the Audi is shod with 60-profile tyres versus the VW’s 45-profile rubber.
Through sharp corners, the marginally larger Passat has sharper turn-in and hangs on a little longer before understeer sets in, while the A4 compensates for its softer responses with a more supple ride.
Overall, the family heritage is evident in both cars, whereby safe and responsive manners are ideally balanced with everyday ride comfort. It’s as good as it gets in this executive saloon category.
The Audi A4 and Volkswagen Passat should have had identical pricing of $166k, if not for the $10,000 VES surcharge levied on the VW. The Audi is in the VES neutral band, so its value proposition in this story is stronger.
Prices aside, choosing between the fuel-efficient A4 and the flamboyant Passat could boil down to pure badge preference – four rings interlinked, or the letters V and W interlocked in a circle.
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