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In-depth reviews

Audi A4 review – a well-built, but unexciting executive saloon

"The Audi A4 is a comfortable and economical executive saloon with a stylish, technology-laden interior"

Carbuyer Rating

4.3 out of 5

Owners Rating

3.4 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Wide range of engines
  • Spacious cabin
  • Economical

Cons

  • Dull exterior design
  • Pricey optional extras
  • More expensive than BMW 3 Series

Verdict – is the Audi A4 a good car?

The Audi A4 has a spacious interior and sports a range of economical combustion engines, though its exterior design is arguably a bit overly conservative and it can easily be lost in a crowd. It’s a similar story for its driving experience, which offers a solid all-round experience but won’t excite in the same way as a BMW 3 Series. The A4 can get pricey if you’re not careful, too.

Audi A4 models, specs and alternatives

The Audi A4 is an executive saloon that’s established itself as a true competitor to the Mercedes C-Class and BMW 3 Series over its 30-year lifetime. The A4 has always been the most conservatively styled of the trio while offering great build quality and grippy quattro four-wheel drive on some models, while the 3 Series has always been the driver’s choice and the C-Class is the most comfort and luxury-focused.

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The latest Audi A4 is now nearing the end of its life cycle since it launched in 2016, but not only that – it will also mark the end of the nameplate. The spiritual successor to the Audi A4 will be the next generation of Audi A5, with the A4 name reserved for a future electric model instead.

The A4 received a major facelift in 2020, which saw it gain a purposeful new nose and striking designs for its front and rear lights. Its interior was also given a makeover and fitted with improved technology, while mild-hybrid engines were ushered in to reduce the running costs of its petrol and diesel engines for company-car drivers.

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For enthusiastic drivers, the A4 gets off to a lacklustre start whether you pick a quattro four-wheel drive or a front-wheel drive variant, as it lacks the nimble agility offered by the rear-wheel drive BMW 3 Series. This new model is an improvement over the previous generation, though, with a vastly improved ride quality that is more compliant with the potholed roads of Great Britain, with the optional adaptive suspension allowing you to choose between a soft or firm spring setup. There's no option of air suspension, like in the Mercedes C-Class, though.

There's a wide range of engines to choose from. Those who cover fewer than 12,000 or so miles a year will be well served by the modern, turbocharged 2.0-litre petrols. Available with either 148bhp or 201bhp and badged 35 and 40 TFSI respectively, our favourite is the 40 TFSI model, returning up to 44.8mpg despite a swift 0-62mph time of 7.1 seconds.

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Those who cover a higher annual mileage might prefer a diesel, and the 161bhp 2.0-litre 35 TDI is a great all-rounder, with up to 58.9mpg claimed, combined with a competitive Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company-car tax rating. There's also a high-performance Audi S4 saloon, fitted with a 336bhp diesel engine, which we've reviewed separately.

Even the cheapest Technik trim is well equipped, with a 10.1-inch infotainment screen and Audi's Virtual Cockpit fitted as standard. Sport Edition, S line and Black Edition add desirable styling to the mix, while the top Vorsprung grade includes adaptive suspension, LED Matrix headlights, a sunroof and lots of driving assistance kit to make the A4 safer.

The Audi A4 finished in 44th place out of the top 50 cars in the 2024 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, with the model achieving its highest scores in the running costs and fuel economy categories as well as for value for money. While the Audi A4 achieved a five-star crash-test rating from Euro NCAP in 2015, the test criteria have since become more stringent, so this has now expired.

If you're in the market for a compact executive saloon, then the Audi A4 ticks virtually all the boxes. It's economical, spacious, well built, packed with tech, has a beautifully designed interior and, while rivals such as the BMW 3 Series, Jaguar XE and Alfa Romeo Giulia may be more rewarding to drive, the latest generation A4 is the most competent yet on a twisty road. While there's not a lot to separate most of the models in the A4's class, the Audi is a great all-rounder.

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Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

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