Audi A4 review
The Audi A4 executive saloon impresses with its build quality, technical specification and driving performance
The A4 is one of Audi’s most important models, and the current version is one of the best-sellers in the class. The compact executive saloon has a focus on technology and comfort, and this makes it an interesting alternative for those who don’t want the sporty character of the BMW 3 Series.
An update in 2019 resulted in overhauled styling: new headlights, front grille elements alter the front end; the side gets an adjusted shoulder line to emphasise the wheel arches, and the tail lights feature more intricate LED graphics. Elsewhere, the revisions included an overhauled engine line-up and improved in-car tech.
Where the A4 has advanced is in the way it drives. Audi has listened to customer feedback and made the A4 softer and more comfortable, and as a result it's easier to live with. There’s still plenty of performance on offer to keep you entertained, but if you’re after real thrills you're still better off with the 3 Series or Jaguar XE.
Where few of the A4’s rivals can compete, however, is inside. The cabin is beautifully crafted and a place than can transform the most arduous journey into an enjoyable one. The 2019 facelift improved things further with the introduction of a larger 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system and an improved iteration of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital driver’s display.
About the Audi A4
The A4 range was facelifted in 2019 when improvements included interior infotainment tech upgrades and the introduction of updated engine tech featuring mild-hybrid assistance, which is a 48 Volt system in the most powerful S4, but a simpler 12 Volt arrangement in the rest of the line-up. A combined alternator/starter recuperates up to 5kW of energy while coasting, to help boost acceleration or to allow the car up to 40 seconds of ‘electric only’ coasting with the engine off.
Trim levels start with the Technik model which has an attractive spec featuring 17-inch alloys, LED headlamps, 10.1-inch colour Navigation Plus MMI display, Parking System Plus, cruise control, heated seats, three zone climate control and Virtual Cockpit 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.
Next up is the Sport Edition which adds 18-inch alloys, a Black Styling Pack and part-leather front sports seats. S-Line trim gives you a special exterior styling package and sport suspension with 19-inch alloy wheels, and alcantara upholstery.
Black Edition is an S-Line upgrade that brings a stealthy ‘blacked out’ effect to exterior brightwork, while the flagship A4 Vorsprung has its own styling pack, Matrix LED headlights, and Adaptive Sport suspension, plus leather sports seats inside.
There is a broad range of 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. Technik trim is available with 148bhp 35 TFSI petrol power or 134bhp and 161bhp versions of Audi’s diesel badged 30 TDI and 35 TDI respectively. Move to Sport Edition and a 201bhp version of the 2.0-litre petrol is added, badged 40 TFSI, while a 201bhp TDI quattro is the first four-wheel drive choice in the line-up.
If you want a petrol engine with four-wheel drive you’ll need at least S-Line spec which brings the option of the 261bhp version of the 2.0-litre petrol badged as the 45 TFSI quattro.
The 35 TDI diesel is the engine that makes the most sense for buyers: it manages 54.3-55.4mpg in official tests and its 161bhp output is more than enough. It lacks the quattro four-wheel drive system used by the 40 TDI and is a little down on power, but the lack of complexity and weight means that it’s almost as quick and more frugal – all the while coming in at over £2,000 cheaper.
2019 marked the introduction of the latest S4. The significant change came under the bonnet: gone was the old petrol-powered V6, replaced by a V6 diesel with 48-volt mild hybrid tech. The new unit doesn’t quite have the outright power of the old engine but it makes up for it with a thumping 700Nm of torque.
The Audi’s toughest rivals are the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class, while the Jaguar XE and Alfa Romeo Giulia shouldn't be ruled out. Then there are the Volvo S60 and Lexus IS, as well as upmarket versions of family cars such as the VW Passat, Ford Mondeo, Peugeot 508, the Vauxhall Insignia, Mazda 6 and Skoda Superb.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Audi A4 executive saloon impresses with its build quality, technical specification and driving performance
- 2Engines, performance and driveNot the sharpest to drive in its class, but the A4 is a leader in terms of long distance refinement
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsEfficient but powerful engines deliver strong performance without sky-high running costs
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe A4 has the best interior in its class by some margin. It’s crammed with tech and beautifully crafted
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe A4 is on par with its rivals with a spacious boot and generous passenger space
- 6Reliability and SafetyA raft of safety tech ensures you’ll be safe on the road, but Audi slips down the Driver Power survey rankings
- 7Deals and offersThe latest finance deals and special offers on the Audi A4 saloon and Avant estate