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Audi A4 review - as refined and composed as ever, but is the new A4 fun?

Dan Prosser
2 Oct 2017
Verdict:

No matter the body style, this is the best A4 yet

Evo Rating: 
For 
Much improved ride and handling, great cabin, tempting tech
Against 
Blink-and-you'll-miss-it styling, no steering feel
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Audi’s latest generation of the A4 is its best yet, but while it won’t thrill quite like a BMW 3-series or Jaguar XE down your local B-roads, it’s talented enough. The A4 is practical, especially in Avant and Allroad form, so will appeal to your more sensible side.

The styling has only changed little from the previous model – some call it timeless and refined, others dull – the cabin is relentlessly logical and simple in its execution, and the powertrain options are effective yet unremarkable.

As such, it remains a car you’ll opt for with your head rather than your heart, whether you select the sensible 2-litre diesels, or the high-output 2.0 TFSI and 3.0 TDI options. But whichever you do opt for, you’ll find a car whose talents are broader than before, with improved ride and handling, greater efficiency and some highly appealing technological additions – notably, dynamic LED lighting and Audi’s neat ‘Virtual Cockpit’. In all, it provides a solid basis for the inevitable S4 and RS4 variants in future.

Audi A4: in detail

Performance and 0-60mph time > 3.0 V6 TDI is currently the quickest A4, with a 5.3sec 0-62mph time. The petrol engines are punchy too, and all deliver competitive performance figures.

Engine and gearbox > Diesels make up the majority of the range, with 2- and 3-litre capacity options. A 2-litre petrol is also available. Manual and dual-clutch transmissions are available throughout, with an 8-speed auto on the 3.0 TDI and Quattro available on all but the entry-level 1.4. 

Ride and handling > Not class-leading, but far better than before. The A4 now has great ride quality, and steering is much improved. Quattro all-wheel drive offers typical all-weather grip and traction. 

MPG and running costs > The entry-level 2.0 TDI Ultra dips under the free-VED 100g/km barrier. All models are frugal though, with over 55mpg even in the V6 diesel. 

Interior and tech > Here's one area that rivals still can't match - the serene, understated elegance of Audi's cabins. Optional Virtual Cockpit works brilliantly and looks fantastic. 

Design > You'll play spot-the-difference with the old car, but at least the barely-changed silhouette now results in a drag coefficient of 0.23.

Prices, specs and rivals

The Audi A4 line-up kicks off at just over £27k for the 1.4-litre TFSI. The 2-litre TDI Ultra, for about £3k more, has traditionally been a big seller thanks to  CO2 emissions of only 99g/km in its less powerful state. The 2-litre TFSI, in Sport trim, offers a bit of extra poke and equipment including: leather heated seats and an upgraded infotainment system for a tad over £32k.

The cheapest all-wheel drive option is the £36k-plus 2-litre TDI quattro. The 3-litre, six-cylinder diesel – developing 268bhp –  provides the best performance outside of the S4 and RS4 variants at almost £38k. The Avant estate bodied range starts just shy of £29k and carries a blanket premium of £1.5k (give or take) and is available with the same powertrain options as the saloon.

The Audi A4 allroad quattro is the range-topping model offering raised suspension for extra off-road ability. It will come in anywhere between £40k and £44k depending on the trim and engine you choose to power your all-wheel drive. The allroad captures a small proportion of sales with crossovers now eating into its market, but all models come loaded with kit as standard – think three-zone climate control, cruise control and keyless go.

As with any German junior saloon it’s all too easy to go option-crazy on the A4 but some gadgets are certainly worth investing in. The Virtual Cockpit instrument cluster (a 12.3-inch screen housed in the binnacle) is particularly good, so too are the Matrix headlights that project excellent light-output and automatically adjust the beams according to oncoming traffic.

The Jaguar XE, BMW 3-series and Mercedes-Benz C-class give buyers plenty of compelling choice should they look elsewhere. All are similarly priced throughout the entirety of their respective ranges with similar equipments levels and options to chose from. The Jaguar and BMW can’t quite boast the same cabin quality and tech-spread of the Audi but are more dynamic and engaging to drive. The Mercedes is more akin to the Audi in terms of quality, refinement and luxury – perhaps edging out the A4 in terms of style. 

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