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The Audi A4 offers technology and quality when compared to its small executive saloon rivals
Beautiful interior, very comfortable to drive, great interior tech
Looks like the old model, not as sporty to drive as rivals, pricey optional extras
Launched in 2015, 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.
Where the A4 has advanced over the old model is in the way it drives. Audi has listened to customer feedback and made the A4 softer and more comfortable and, as a result, 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 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.
Audi has been a player in the small executive saloon market for many years now, and the latest Audi A4 is a front-runner in the class. Its main focus is on quality and technology, and it has a host of kit on board that will make the most discerning technophile happy.
Under the skin, the A4 uses the VW Group’s MLB Evo platform, which features engines that are mounted lengthways under the bonnet, rather than across the engine bay. The MLB Evo platform is lighter than the old car, and the engine is mounted further back to improve weight distribution and improve the A4’s handling.
The A4 range is available in four-door saloon and Avant estate body styles, but the Audi A5 – which comes in Coupe, Sportback and Cabriolet guises – and the Q5 SUV both use the same platform and majority of engines.
There are a wide range of engines on sale in the A4, ranging from the very economical to the hugely powerful. Petrol power comes from 1.4, 2.0 and 3.0 TFSI turbocharged petrol engines. The 1.4 TFSI 150 is a 148bhp motor, while the 2.0 TFSI comes in 190PS and 252PS forms with 187bhp and 249bhp respectively. The 3.0 TFSI 354PS is a 349bhp 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo unit that is exclusive to the high-performance S4. At the very top of the range, the RS 4 Avant has a 2.9 TFSI 450PS twin-turbo V6 that packs 444bhp and manages 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds.
Diesel power is handled by 2.0 TDI and 3.0 TDI diesels. The 2.0-litre version comes in 150PS and 190PS guises with 148bhp and 187bhp respectively, while the 3.0 TDI is badged either 218PS or 272PS with 215bhp and 268bhp.
A six-speed manual is standard on the 1.4 TFSI and the two lower powered 2.0 TDIs, while the seven-speed S tronic is available as an option. S tronic autos are standard for the most powerful 2.0 TFSI and lower powered 3.0 TDI, while the more powerful 3.0 TDI and S4 come with an eight-speed Tiptronic auto.
Quattro four-wheel drive is found on selected models across the A4 range. It’s optional with the 2.0 TDI 190PS S tronic, and is standard with the most powerful 2.0 TFSI, both 3.0 TDIs, the S4 and RS 4.
The Audi A4 trim range looks straightforward, but Audi allows you to add all sorts of extras and option packages so you can personalise your car to your heart’s content. The basic line-up is SE, Sport, S line and Black Edition, with increasing amount of standard kit the further up the range you go. At the top of the range, the S4 and RS 4 models are standalone models.
There are more rivals than ever to the Audi A4. Chief among them are the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class, while the Jaguar XE and Alfa Romeo Giulia are available if you don’t want to conform to the German standard. Elsewhere, the Lexus IS offers hybrid drive and low tax costs, while top-spec versions of the VW Passat and Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport are trying to muscle in on sales.
Engines, performance and drive
Supple ride and smooth engines make for a relaxing drive, although the A4 is not the sharpest in its class
The fifth-generation Audi A4 moved to a new platform, adopting the VW Group’s MLB Evo architecture. The more advanced chassis is underpinned by multi-link suspension at both the front and rear, and although this differs from the front-end systems on rivals like the Jaguar XE and Alfa Romeo Giulia, the technology and components used are equally hi-tech and modern, while the option of £600 Adaptive Sport suspension gives customers the ability to tailor the set-up.
In quattro 4×4 guise, the performance of the A4 offers some stiff competition to its rival the BMW 3 Series. Generally the A4 feels connected to the road in all the right ways and the drive is direct and involving, but it doesn’t feel quite as exciting as the Jaguar XE.