Audi A4 Review
The Audi A4 feels solidly put together and comes with a cabin roomy enough to seat five, but alternatives are more fun to drive.
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The Audi A4 is to modern-day business transport what the Ford Cortina was back in the 1970s. Basically, if your daily attire involves a shirt and tie, the Audi A4 is likely to be quite high on your shopping list, doubtless alongside rivals such as the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class. This is thanks – in part – to its sharp style, classy interior and economical engines.
The Audi A4 has a few sporty styling tweaks to help it stand out from these cars, however, so has plenty of aggressive intakes, sharply creased lines and – depending on which model you pick – some seriously bright Matrix LED headlights. If the old A4 was frowning, this new one is clenching its teeth and staring right through you.
Inside, the changes aren’t quite so in-your-face, but you do get a whopping-great 10-inch infotainment display as standard with all the navigation and smartphone-mirroring mod-cons you could ask for.
It isn’t just the Audi’s touchscreen that you’ll find yourself pawing at regularly – almost all of the A4’s materials feel lovely and plush, too. It’s just a shame that electric seat adjustment is reserved for top-spec cars.
Despite this, you won’t have any trouble getting comfy in the Audi A4’s spacious cabin and there’s very nearly as much room in the back for passengers as in the BMW 3 Series. The boot’s a doddle to load too, and there’s plenty of space in the boot for a few large suitcases.
The Audi A4 might not be as fun to drive as a BMW 3 Series or quite as stylish as a Mercedes C-Class, but it strikes a fantastic balance between comfort, tech and quality.
All of the Audi A4’s seven – yes, seven – engines will happily cart you and a fair amount of heavy luggage around, but for long motorway slogs you’ll want to pick a 2.0-litre diesel. There’s also a faster S4 diesel model that’ll lap up cross-continental road trips without breaking a sweat and a selection of petrol units that’ll be better if you do plenty of town driving.
Whichever engine you go for, you’ll find the Audi A4 is comfortable to drive – even over fairly broken road surfaces – and cruises along quietly at speed. Its automatic gearbox is easy to use (if a little jerky when parking) and you can get plenty of driver-assistance features to take the edge off long stints behind the wheel.
What the Audi A4 doesn’t do so well, however, is put a great big grin on your face on a twisting ribbon of country road. Sure, there’s plenty of grip – especially in quattro four-wheel-drive models – but it doesn’t feel as agile or as keen to dive from one corner to the next as an Alfa Romeo Giulia or BMW 3 Series.
This is only a small niggle, however, and certainly shouldn’t put you off considering the Audi A4 as your next new car. Read on for more information in our detailed interior, practicality and driving review sections or head over to our Audi A4 deals page to see how much you can save on a new car.
The Audi A4 is spacious inside for four adults and offers a decent boot, but five adults will be a bit of a squeeze on a long trip.
You won’t have any trouble getting comfortable in the Audi A4’s front seats – even if you’re very tall. There’s loads of head- and legroom and plenty of seat adjustment as standard, including four-way lumbar adjustment to save your lower back on long journeys.
Electric seat adjustment costs extra on all but top-spec Vorsprung models, however, but they also come with a handy memory feature so you won’t have to fiddle around with the seat’s settings each time you lend your car to someone else.
Space in the back is very nearly as generous as in the front. There’s enough room for a six-foot-tall passenger to stretch out behind an equally lanky driver and more headroom than in the Mercedes C-Class and Jaguar XE – even in models fitted with the optional glass roof.
Your passengers will have plenty of space to tuck their feet under the front seats too, and the Audi A4’s wide cabin means there’s more shoulder room for three adults to sit side-by-side than in the Mercedes C-Class. Okay, the central seat’s not quite as comfortable as that in a Volvo S60 or BMW 3 Series, but there’s only a slight lump in the floor to get in the way of your middle passenger’s feet.
The wide rear door openings make it pretty easy to lift in a child seat and the Isofix anchor points come with clearly marked plastic caps – just be careful not to lose them. The Audi A4’s relatively low roof means you’ll have to duck down slightly to strap in a child but it’s no more difficult than in the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class or Volvo S60.
All the Audi A4’s door bins are big enough to hold a 1.5-litre bottle and there’s space for an equally large bottle in the glovebox.
You get a pair of large cupholders in the centre console up by the dashboard and a roomy storage bin under the flip-up front armrest that’s perfect for hiding small valuables safely out of sight.
The rear door bins are large enough to hold a 1.5-litre bottle and there’s a pair of cupholders in the folding rear armrest. You also get a large, flat storage area under a lid here too, but you don’t get any USB chargers in the Audi A4’s back seats – just an old-fashioned 12-volt socket.
The Audi A4’s 480-litre boot is exactly the same size as those in the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class, so is easily big enough to carry a set of golf clubs or a large baby buggy. It’s slightly easier to load items in the Audi than the Mercedes or BMW thanks to its wider opening and lower boot lip, however.
You get a few handy fold-out shopping hooks to hold your groceries securely in place but you’ll have to pay extra for the Storage Pack if you want some handy netted cubbies and a 12V socket.
Unfortunately, the Audi A4 doesn’t come with underfloor storage, but you do get three-way (40:20:40) split rear seats as standard so you can carry two back-seat passengers and some very long luggage at once.
Need to carry even more luggage? Flip all three back seats down and you’ll have access to a roomy 965-litre load bay – that’s exactly the same size as the Mercedes and a little more than the BMW. The seats don’t fold completely flat so it’s a little tricky to push heavy boxes right up behind the front seats but there’s just enough space to lift in a bike with both its wheels attached.
Audi gives you lots of engine choice and the A4’s quiet and comfy drive is impressive. If you want driving thrills, though, you’re better off with a BMW 3 Series.
You can get the Audi A4 with your choice of three petrol engines and three diesel engines. All of these units are turbocharged and most come with a mild-hybrid system to improve fuel economy. This starts with the 136hp 30 TDI diesel, and ends with the 265hp 45 TFSI petrol, although there’s also the sportier 347hp S4 diesel and 444hp RS4, which we’ve reviewed separately.
Ultimately, a couple of engines standard out. If you do most of your driving in town or don’t like the idea of diesel, then the 150hp 2.0-litre 35 TFSI is the best bet. It easily has enough power and low down pull to haul the A4 along and is exceptionally smooth and quiet. The more powerful 40 and 45 TFSI engines are quicker and pull harder, but cost more to buy and use more fuel.
If you’re buying an A4 as a company car or often travel long distances on the motorway then you’re probably better off buying a diesel. In which case, the 163hp, 2.0-litre 35 TDI is the better choice. It feels eager to accelerate, yet will return around 50mpg if driven carefully and has low CO2 emissions – which is ideal for company car buyers. Again, the 40 TDI and 45 TDI are quicker still, but not by enough to make their higher price and fuel bills seem worth it.
Audi’s seven-speed automatic gearbox is available with every engine – it’s slick once you’re up and running, but does hesitate a bit in town. A six-speed manual will be available with lesser engines later on.
The Audi A4 is an easy and comfortable car to drive in town. It’s best to keep its alloy wheels as small as possible and avoid the sportier suspension of S Line trim for the best comfort, but even then you don’t crash into potholes or thud into ruts.
Visibility is good for the driver, although front and rear parking sensors are standard in any case and the A4’s steering is light enough to make tight manoeuvres a piece of cake.
It’s all good news on the motorway too. The A4 doesn’t wander about in its lane and there’s very little wind and road noise inside. The petrol models are especially quiet.
For even more relaxation you can add Audi’s Driver Assistance Tour Pack which brings a system that’ll accelerate, brake and steer to keep you in your lane as long as you keep your hands on the steering wheel.
Where the A4 isn’t quite as good as its alternatives is when pushing hard on country roads. Sure, the A4 grips hard and has precision to its steering, but an Alfa Romeo Giulia, BMW 3 Series or Jaguar XE are more communicative and ultimately fun on the right road.
S Line A4s have lower, stiffer sports suspension and adaptive suspension is available across the range as an option to improve body control, but even then the Audi A4 doesn’t quite put as big a smile on your face.
You’ll love climbing into the Audi A4 each morning – the quality of its interior is fantastic. Its infotainment system is great too, but BMW’s iDrive continues to be even easier to use.