Audi A4 review
The stylish and well equipped Audi A4 rivals the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class
As Audi’s best selling model in the very tough compact executive segment, you can appreciate why it has put some serious development into what goes underneath this new Audi A4 and we’ve got to admit it’s definitely a contender to be the stand-out car of its class.
Those considering an A4 might be slightly underwhelmed by the rather conservative look, but it’s become a classic in office car parks up and down the country. The latest A4, however, has brought its A-game, claiming best in class figures for weight, economy, practicality and technology as it aims to become the commuter favourite.
It uses the Volkswagen Group’s MLB Evo platform, which is for cars with longitudinally mounted engines. This has enabled a significant weight saving of 120kg compared to the previous model and means like-for-like it weighs less than the equivalent BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class and Jaguar XE.
Although UK specifications haven't been revealed, the previous model's SE, SE Technik, Black Edition, and S Line trims could make a return - and without too much of a price increase.
Our choice: Audi A4 2.0 TDI
Engines, performance and drive
In quattro guise, the performance of the A4 offers some stiff competition to its rival the BMW 3 Series. Generally the A4 feels connected to the road in all the right ways and the drive is direct and involving.
Audi's work on the exterior has also reduced noise in the cabin and it’s also extremely comfortable to drive all thanks to the new platform, which is 15 per cent stiffer than the old A4, plus aluminium suspension components allows softer suspension to be fitted.
Both fixed and variable dampers are available. Variable dampers set in Auto are much more comfortable than fixed - and are an option worth having. Sports mode makes the car look more aggressive and offers a sharper drive, and Dynamic mode reduces comfort for minimal, if any, improvement in handling.
Active steering is available as an option but avoid it, as it doesn’t feel as natural as the normal setup. The standard steering option on the A4 works just fine and is the best of any A4 yet.
The best-selling engine is likely to be the 2.0-litre diesel engine, available with 187 or 148bhp, and we would choose that or the 3.0-litre 215bhp diesel. These offer claimed economy figures of 74.3 and 70.6mpg respectively and have low emissions of 95 and 99g/km of CO2.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
The A4’s diesel engines offer a great balance of performance and economy. Both the 3.0-litre and 2.0-litre diesels, offer sub-100g/km CO2. Even the highest power 3.0-litre 268bph V6 diesel engine, which is only available in 4x4 guise, can hit 62mph in 5.3 seconds although it emits only 129g/km CO2.
Two petrol engines are also available, a 1.4 TFSI with 148bhp capable of 57.6mpg and 114g/km plus a 2.0 TFSI with 249bhp that can get from 0-62mph in as little as 5.8 seconds, however it still manages a decent 49.5mpg and 129g/km of CO2.
Audi has also introduced a 2.0-litre 187bhp TFSI engine that will make a great option for company car drivers looking for a speedy petrol car that will have low tax costs.
In fact, this engine actually betters the smaller unit as it can achieve 58.9mpg and 109g/km CO2. It does this by limiting the amount of fuel and air entering the chambers during cruising so it effectively operates as if its capacity is 1.2 litres, but if you want to accelerate hard the switch back to full capacity is seamless.
Interior, design and technology
The A4’s exterior styling is pretty conservative - no one is going to be offended or shocked to see this at the end of their road. Although it’s a familiar look, a lot of work has gone into the bodywork and every line and crease is there to improve the aerodynamics of the car.
The bodywork sets a class record for low drag. Clever developments such as the side mirrors, which are now mounted directly on the door panel rather than at the junction with the quarter light means more air can glide smoothly down the side of the car.
Inside, the cabin has just a touch more class than its rivals, although some might find it a bit subdued. There are some nice touches too, such as what Audi calls an ‘air shower’, which is an extra wide vent in the front of the dash acting as a subtle diffuser.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
Compared to its rivals the A4 feels very spacious inside. The new A4 is the same height as the old model but headroom has been improved because the seats are thinner and also mounted lower. The additional wheelbase length of 23mm might not sound like much but it means taller passengers will feel comfortable in the back seat. It also benefits from a wider body which means more shoulder room.
The wide opening and low floor of the boot make it extremely useable. The Avant plays an ace though, with a boot space of 505 litres - or 1,510 litres with the rear seats folded - which its rivals can’t beat.
The A4’s new light signature looks smart but the LEDs are also functional. Audi has developed them to read the road ahead and adjust their spread so they don’t dazzle oncoming traffic.
Another clever feature is the virtual cockpit, first seen on the TT. Passengers can also adjust the stereo and navigation easily with the central screen. Buyers can also opt for LTE mobile connectivity, which will turn their cars into a wi-fi hotspot.
Reliability and Safety
Kitted out with all this tech gives the A4 a very contemporary look but it still manages to feel robust while being finished to a very high standard.
Safety is high on the agenda and the A4 gets impressive brakes, which offer superior pedal feel and more stopping power. This is combined with pre-sense city that can automatically brake the car to prevent a collision at under 53mph and even stop the car at less than 25mph, as standard.
The A4 also gets adaptive cruise control, which is able to drive the car for you at crawling speeds or keep itself within its lane at higher speeds.
Audi also placed 13th in our Driver Power survey with a respectable score of 86.5 per cent, although it did drop one position from 2014.