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Audi A4 review - does it finally match a 3-series for fun?
The latest generation of Audi’s compact executive saloon is its best yet. While it won’t thrill quite like a BMW 3-series or Jaguar XE down your local B-roads, it’s talented enough that you’ll not be let down by its driving characteristics should you choose the car for more practical reasons.
The styling has changed little – some call it timeless, others dull – the cabin is relentlessly logical and simple in its execution, and the powertrain options are, for the time being, effective yet unremarkable.
As such, it remains a car you’ll opt for with your head rather than your heart, whether you select the sensible 2-litre diesels, or the high-output 2.0 TFSI and 3.0 TDI options. But whichever you opt for, you’ll find a car whose talents are broader than before, with improved ride and handling, greater efficiency and some highly appealing technological additions – notably, dynamic LED lighting and Audi’s neat ‘Virtual Cockpit’. In all, it provides a solid basis for the inevitable S4 and RS4 variants in future.
In the past, we’d have advised you to steer clear of A4s in S Line trim. While the sporty styling held great appeal, the obligatory suspension upgrades that completed that look resulted in a ride completely at odds with the UK’s broken tarmac.
With a lighter body and a promise from Audi that its engineers spent some time in Wales when developing the new car, that appears no longer to be the case. We’ll reserve full judgment until we’ve spent some more time with the car, but it now seems possible to specify an S Line car without risk of spinal damage.
Audi hasn’t transformed the A4 into a must-have drivers’ car in its latest generation, but it’s undoubtedly made significant improvements over the last model and extended its advantage in other traditional Audi strong points, such as quality and technology.
Performance and 0-60mph time > 3.0 V6 TDI is currently the quickest A4, with a 5.3sec 0-62mph time. Petrols are punchy too, and all deliver competitive performance figures.
Engine and gearbox > Diesels make up the majority of the range, with 2- and 3-litre capacity options. A 2-litre petrol is also available. Manual and dual-clutch transmissions are available throughout, with an 8-speed auto on the 3.0 TDI and Quattro available on all but the entry-level 1.4.
Ride and handling > Not class-leading, but far better than before. A4s now seem to ride properly, and steering is much improved. Quattro all-wheel drive offers typical all-weather grip and traction.
MPG and running costs > The entry-level 2.0 TDI Ultra dips under the free-VED 100g/km barrier. All models are frugal though, with over 55mpg even in the V6 diesel.
Prices, specs and rivals > Pricing is competitive across the range, and specification levels are high throughout. Rivals are strong, though - a C-class rivals the A4 for quality, while BMW's 3-series and Jaguar's XE drive better.
Interior and tech > Here's one area that rivals still can't match - the serene, understated elegance of Audi's cabins. Optional Virtual Cockpit works brilliantly and looks fantastic.
Design > You'll play spot-the-difference with the old car, but at least the barely-changed silhouette now results in a drag coefficient of 0.23.