Long-term tests

Audi A4

Blue lights were flashing, sirens wailing. The ambulance wanted to get through, but where was I supposed to go?

  • Torquey engine, stylish looks, very usable load bay, cabin design and quality, friendly and professional service centre
  • Super-unleaded costs, pricey options, oil use, high kerbs which damage alloys!

A narrow street, high kerbs, traffic lights at red against me and cars queuing across the junction ahead. There was no alternative. Up the kerb I went - and crunch! That horrible dull metallic sound confirmed that one expensive alloy wheel had taken a bit of a bashing.

After doing my best to keep the smart rims of the Audi A4 Avant in pristine condition for 11 months, all the good work had been undone in a split-second. A repair bill for the alloy or, worse, the expense of a replacement awaited.

Not a very welcome cost, as only three weeks earlier I had splashed out £311 on the car's first service. That isn't cheap for what is in effect an oil change, but then a visit to the dealer hadn't been required until the variable service indicator came on at 16,500 miles. I booked the A4 into South-end Audi in Essex, which arranged a courtesy car with no fuss while the Avant spent the day in its workshop. As regular readers will know, the car has needed topping up with a litre of oil every 5,000 miles, so I asked that this be checked.

I was disappointed on collecting the car to be told that an oil consumption test could only be carried out once the Avant had passed 20,000 miles - and that I'd need to leave the Audi with the garage for two days. Problem unresolved!

However, a flapping front number plate was fixed with new screws, a dodgy dust and pollen filter replaced and the car was thoroughly vacuumed and washed, too. So, what is the overall long-term verdict on OY55 GJZ? Well, I will miss the cruising prowess and off-the-line punch of the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. What I won't regret seeing the back of are the high fuel bills, because while economy has been reasonable in our hands at 29.6mpg, the VW Golf GTI-sourced powerplant demands expensive super-unleaded. Over the course of 10 months and 19,000 miles, we've put £2,560-worth of fuel in the estate - had we been able to run it on ordinary petrol, we reckon we'd have saved around £150.

On the plus side, the A4 is a very good load-lugger, carrying pretty much everything I have needed to transport. What's more, it is stylish to look at, comfortable to drive over long distances, brilliantly put together and highly desirable. After I had treated it to one final professional wash and valet, it was recently returned to Audi - and we will reveal its replacement soon...

Second opinion Dave may be happy with the size and practicality of the A4 Avant, but with a passion for mountain biking and a young family which never travels light, I'm a bit more demanding on space - and the Audi is simply not big enough for my needs unless I stick on a roofbox or bike rack. The ride could be smoother, too, and the automatic box knocks fuel economy. Those quibbles aside, I rate the A4 highly for its quality and image.Oliver Marriage, road test editor

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