Audi A4 Saloon review
Cast iron build quality, a desirable image and punchy powerplants mark out the Audi A4 as compact executive class contender
Impressive build quality, good looks and an excellent engine line up help mark the Audi A4 out as one of the stars of the compact executive class. This latest version is better to drive than ever - thanks to Audi's focus on improving suspension comfort and steering feel. Optional four-wheel drive offers extra stability and security on slippery roads.
By taking its design cues from Audi’s rakish A5 coupe, the four-door A4 saloon gets real kerbside appeal. Neat and well proportioned, it looks more modern than rivals such as the BMW 3-Series. Even the practical Avant estate model turns heads, thanks to its sporty stance and steeply raked tailgate. All Audi A4s get alloy wheels, while range topping S-line and S4 versions get an aerodynamic bodykit, five-spoke alloy wheels and Xenon headlamps that feature distinctive LED running lights.
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As you would expect, the Audi A4 sets the benchmark for cabin quality to which rivals like the BMW 3-Series aspire. All the plastics are soft touch, plus the fit and finish are first rate. Better still, the attractively styled dashboard features clear dials and an intuitive layout – we particularly like the firm’s MMI interface that controls the stereo and sat-nav functions. A metallic inlay for the doors and dash help brighten the interior, while at night, ambient lighting bathes the centre console in a warm red glow. Leather trim is standard on Tecnik models and above.
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Engineers have worked hard to give the Audi A4 entertaining driving dynamics. Quick steering, strong mid corner grip and decent body control mean the A4 is a composed companion on twisting back roads. Four-wheel drive quattro models boost confidence further thanks to excellent all-weather traction. While all A4s suffer from a firm ride, refinement is good, with wind and road noise kept to a minimum. Audi’s line-up of TFSI petrol engines and TDI diesel units serve-up attractive mix of performance and economy. Scorching 328bhp S4 blasts from 0 to 62mph in only 5.2 seconds.
MPG AND RUNNING COSTS
As with other models in the Audi line-up, the A4 isn’t cheap to buy. However, strong predicted resale values mean the German car is solid long-term financial investment. If you want to keep running costs to a minimum, then the 2.0TDIe model makes the most sense – it promises to return 61.4mpg and emits only 120g/km of CO2. All four-cylinder diesel engines benefit from start/stop kit, while regenerative braking and gearshift indicator also help to boost efficiency.
Despite its four-door saloon layout, the A4 is surprisingly practical. The cabin is spacious and will accommodate five adults, although passengers in the rear will find headroom is a little tight. There’s plenty of space for the luggage, too, thanks to a healthy 480-litre load bay. Buyers needing an extra does of versatility should look to the Avant, which serves-up a generous 1,430-litres of carrying capacity with the rear bench folded flat. Optional load divider and net is perfect for avoiding spilled shopping bags.
RELIABILITY AND SAFETY
An impressive five star score in the new EuroNCAP test underlines the Audi A4’s strength and safety. All models benefit from six airbags and ESP, plus neat additions such as a safety triangle and first aid kit. The latest Audi A4 made its Driver Power debut in 2010, with owners praising the car’s reliability and build quality.