Audi A4 Saloon review
The A4 is a revelation; it’s our new class-leader
Dynamically, the latest A4 is a revelation. It’s been transformed over older models, and seems so much more grown up. It has better body control than any of its rivals and feels sure-footed in corners. The steering is sharp and the turn-in positive, and while it isn’t as dynamic as a 3-Series, it’s far more composed than a Mercedes. The Audi strikes a good balance when it comes to ride quality, too. It’s firm but not harsh, and excellent damping means the A4 is taut without being unforgiving. The most popular engine is likely to be the 2.0-litre TDI, and it too has an impressive range of abilities. Power arrives quickly, is delivered smoothly and it’s also quiet and refined, too. Other engines include an impressive 1.8-litre turbo petrol, plus V6 diesel and petrol powerplants.
The newcomer has a distinctively sporting appearance, but it’s still unmistakable – not just as an Audi, but as an A4. The saloon shares front-end styling with the A5 Coupe, and its sharp lines have a taut, strong look. An Avant estate sits alongside it in the line-up. Natural rivals are the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes C-Class; these German models dominate the compact executive saloon sector, but rejuvenated ‘mainstream’ machinery such as the Ford Mondeo and Mazda 6 will also claim to be good-value alternatives. There are two A4 trims, SE and S-line, offered with a quickly expanding line of engines.
The sense of luxury and attention to detail continues inside; it’s similar to Audi’s top-of-the-range A8 limo. The layout, quality and feel of the cabin, which features the same dash as the A5, is smarter than any rival’s. If we were being critical, the plastic panel on the dash-mounted CD changer is a bit shiny, although it only stands out because everything else is so impressive. An electronic parking brake and Multi Media Interface screen, first seen in the A6 and A8, are fitted as standard. Ergonomically, it’s superb, and there’s lots of steering wheel and seat adjustment, plus ample stowage space. Combine this with more rear legroom than any rival bar the Ford Mondeo, and the interior is a winner. It’s even economical to run. List prices undercut a 3-Series, insurance ratings are competitive, retained values are impressive and fuel economy strong (although the exceptional BMW beats it on this score).