Audi A4 saloon review
"The Audi A4 is a comfortable and economical executive saloon with a stylish, technology-laden interior"
- Wide range of engines
- Spacious cabin
- Dull exterior design
- Pricey optional extras
- More expensive than BMW 3 Series
Germany is famed for its executive models, and the Audi A4 has been locking horns with the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class for decades. Each has offered its own take on the class, with the Audi favouring sharp but conservative design, interior quality and secure quattro four-wheel drive handling. The 3 Series has long been the driver's choice, while the C-Class serves up a cosseting interior and smooth ride.
They're now closer than ever to each other, and if that didn't make the decision between them hard enough, rivals like the Alfa Romeo Giulia, Jaguar XE and Lexus IS all have their own appeal too. Happily, such strong competition means the A4 has been constantly updated over the years, making it better with each iteration.
The latest changes were part of a major facelift, which saw the A4 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.
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.
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 65th out of the 75 cars ranked in our 2021 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey of cars currently on sale in the UK. Euro NCAP awarded the A4 a five-star score in crash-testing.
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.