Audi has sold more than five million A4s since 1995, and the latest model looks set to continue this success. The ultra-efficient 2.0 TDIe version is a very enticing prospect, as it doesn’t look or feel like a stripped-out green car, despite returning impressive official economy of 65.7mpg. If it wasn’t for the stodgy steering and firm low-speed ride, we’d have given it the full five stars.
There's nothing like a spot of competition to keep you at the top of your game. The Audi A4
’s latest spruce-up has arrived just in time to head off the challenge of its closest rival, the all-new BMW 3 Series
The revised A4 went on sale at the start of this month, and the 134bhp 2.0-litre TDIe is expected to be the biggest seller in the range. It’s easy to see why: the 112g/km CO2 emissions and £26,555 list price will definitely be of interest to company car drivers – especially when you remember that SE trim includes climate control, Bluetooth and a powerful 10-speaker sound system.
You’ll need to be familiar with the previous A4 to spot the visual changes, however, as the latest car looks largely the same as before. The new bonnet, front bumper and reshaped radiator grille are only slightly different. The refreshed headlamps are the most obvious addition.
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It’s the same story inside. The high-quality cabin has been given a few tweaks, but it’s essentially been carried over unchanged. In short, then, the A4 TDIe doesn’t look or feel like a frugal eco special. But has the driving experience suffered in the quest for better fuel economy and emissions?
Not in the performance stakes. The 2.0-litre diesel engine produces a healthy 320Nm of torque, so the TDIe feels faster than the official figures suggest, with plenty of overtaking punch.
It’s very quiet, too, so is well suited to cruising the nation’s motorways. And around town, the stop-start system works smoothly and unobtrusively. The new electric power-steering helps efficiency, too, although as with other Audi systems, it doesn’t offer much in the way of feel.
So the new A4 proves to be capable rather than exciting to drive, but there’s plenty of grip, despite the fact that all TDIe models are equipped with low-rolling-resistance tyres.
Yet our biggest complaint concerns ride comfort. To help the A4 TDIe cut through the air more efficiently, Audi has fitted it with some familiar sports suspension, which lowers the car by 20mm. The firm set-up isn’t very good at taking the sting out of ruts and bumps, especially at low speeds.
Nevertheless, the entry-level diesel A4 remains a very appealing compact executive car. It’s not without its shortcomings, but with a combination of punchy performance, top-class interior quality and strong fuel economy, it provides the new 3 Series with some stiff competition.