Review

Audi A4 saloon

Price  £27,420 - £36,585

Audi A4 saloon

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Excellent interior
  • Strong engine range
  • Generous standard equipment
Cons
  • Starting to look dated
  • Poor ride on some models
  • BMW 3 Series more fun to drive

At a glance

The greenest
SE 2.0 TDI 136PS ultra 4dr £28,240
The cheapest
SE Technik 1.8 TFSI 170PS 4dr £27,420
The fastest
Black Edition Nav 2.0 TFSI q S tronic 4dr £36,585
Top of the range
Black Edition Nav 2.0 TFSI q S tronic 4dr £36,585

"An excellent interior and great build quality make the A4 a good car, but it's starting to look a little out-of-date and will soon be replaced."

The Audi A4 saloon is a member of a trio of German saloon cars – the others being the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes C-Class – that are admired for their classy looks and premium image. In quality and price, they sit above mainstream models such as the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia.

However, of the three, the A4 is the oldest and the only one that's front-wheel drive (the others are rear-wheel drive). And it's not only car enthusiasts who should be concerned about this difference, as it makes the A4 feel a little less sporty. That said, the A4 is also available with Audi's famous quattro four-wheel-drive system for extra grip on slippery roads.

As it's somewhat older than its main rivals, the A4 has been overtaken by them in the safety stakes (there's a wide range of optional safety kit, but most of it is very expensive). Although the Audi looks and feels well built, its reliability and customer satisfaction ratings are beginning to slide, too.

There are three petrol engines: a 1.8-litre offered in two different power outputs and a 2.0-litre available only with quattro four-wheel drive. Naturally, they're cheaper than the diesels, so you should consider whether your annual mileage justifies the extra expense of the latter.

If it does – around 15,000 miles or more should swing it – then you're in for a treat. The diesels are mainly 2.0-litre engines with a range of different power outputs and a choice of two or four-wheel drive. They're all smooth, powerful and very economical. The most efficient is the 2.0-litre TDI Ultra, which can do 67.3mpg and costs £20 a year to tax, yet still manages to get from 0-62mph in 8.3 seconds. At the other extreme is the 3.0-litre TDI, available only in the top-spec Black Edition Nav quattro. It returns a still-impressive 49.6mpg but sprints from 0-62mph in just 5.9 seconds.

The Audi A4 is available in four specifications: basic SE (aimed mainly at business users and with just one engine), mid-range SE Technik (our pick), S line and luxurious Black Edition Nav.

Equipment is generous, with the SE Technik featuring DAB digital radio, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control and sat nav. Even metallic paint is standard. Fortunately, this trim level also has the softer suspension and smaller alloy wheels. It might sound like an odd thing to boast about, but in fact this set-up is more comfortable than the sportier suspension and larger wheels fitted to the higher-spec models. Perhaps Audi realises this, since 'downgrading' to the regular suspension is a no-cost option.

Find out what we think is the best compact executive car by watching our video below.

MPG, running costs & CO2

4.4 / 5

Great range of efficient petrol and diesel engines

Engines, drive & performance

3.8 / 5

The Audi A4 is safe and predictable to drive, but not as fun as a BMW 3 Series

Interior & comfort

4 / 5

Excellent interior quality, but the Audi A4 is let down by uncomfortable sports suspension

Practicality & boot space

3.7 / 5

The Audi A4 is still a practical saloon, but doesn’t match newer rivals for passenger space

Reliability & safety

3.8 / 5

A steady decline in customer satisfaction highlights the Audi A4’s age

What the others say

4 / 5
based on 3 reviews
4 / 5
"Improvements have also been made to the suspension, which has been fine-tuned to deliver better handling and ride comfort. Admittedly the effect is only minor but with the 17-inch wheels fitted to our test car, and with the Audi Drive Select system fitted we had no complaints about the ride."
4 / 5
"If you want a car that handles like a 3 Series, buy a 3 Series. Failing that, try the Mercedes C-Class - the Audi A4 is not really in the same league dynamically. Audi must know this, and must also have calculated its buyers simply don't care. But even so there are some surprises."
"From the outside you’ll be hard pressed to notice much in the way of big changes. The front lights are the main difference with a similar look to the new A6. The grille is also a slightly different shape (at the top edges) while if you look hard you can see that the front fog lights have been redesigned. The front and rear bumpers are also new."
4 / 5
"On the whole, the A4's cabin is quiet. Road- and suspension noise aren't a problem. Most of the engines are quiet, too, but the 1.8 petrol becomes gruff when worked hard. The large door mirrors also create a little too much wind noise at speed."
What owners say 
4.2106172839506
4.2 /5 based on 405 reviews
67%
 of people would recommend this car to a friend
Last updated 
8 Apr 2015
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