£28,000 - £42,000 Price range
40 - 74 MPG
Most people will struggle to spot the new model, in fact it is easiest just to check the year on the number plate because the A4’s design hasn’t really changed that much in the past 12 years. Its most distinguishing features are the new-look kinked headlights and the framed-chrome grille.
The interior has changed significantly, though you would never call the design particularly exciting, quality is faultless and so is the layout. The A4’s infotainment system is super slick and easy to use and you can get it with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, although sat-nav remains an option on basic models.
It’s practical too with decent storage throughout, and improved aerodynamics mean it’s as quiet as an A8 limo at a cruise.
The improved aero also means that the A4 is also more efficient than ever before. Fuel economy has improved by an average of 21 per cent across the range, something that is helped by the car’s new MLB Evo platform, which means it weighs up to 110kgs less than before.
Despite the lower running costs, power is also up by an average of 25 per cent across the range. There’s a host of engines to choose from – they are all great, but to keep it simple if you cover few miles get the 1.4 TSI petrol or if you have a high annual mileafe the 190hp 2.0-litre diesel is the model for you.
Standard equipment levels in the A4 are strong. All models come with bright-shining Xenon headlights, alloy wheels, and three-zone climate control that lets the driver, passenger and rear-seat occupants adjust their ventilation individually. If you want standard sat-nav, though, you’ll have to upgrade from SE to Sport. Audi’s superb Virtual Cockpit – a digital display that replaces the conventional instrument binnacle – is on the options list for the first time.
Despite being one of the oldest models in its class, the outgoing A4 still had one of the best interiors on offer, but the new model punts it firmly back to the top of the class.
With a seven-inch colour display infotainment screen that is super-slick to use and sprouts from the top of the dash, there’s less need for many buttons, leaving space for metal trim that’s cold to the touch and plenty of soft, spongy plastics. Our only gripes are that the Drive Select button sits on the far side of the dashboard (it’s not been moved in the conversion to right-hand drive) and that, horror of horrors, leather upholstery is a £1,350 option on basic SE models.
All A4’s also get Audi’s Air Shower. Rather than a way to boost personal hygiene down the petrol station, Air Show is in fact a dashboard-wide vent that provides a light breeze rather than the turbulent wind of a traditional system.
There’s plenty of scope to boost the A4’s interior appeal further, but your money is best spent by opting for the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit display that replaces the standard analogue dials. It can transform into a huge sat-nav screen at the touch of a button, giving the new A4 something of a space-age air. It’s a £450 option on basic models when combined with the £2,000 Technology Pack. While the options are very tempting they’re super expensive.
Audi A4 passenger space
No matter your size, getting comfortable in the driver’s seat of the new A4 isn’t a problem. There’s a multitude of adjustment for both the steering wheel and seat itself, while front seat headroom has grown by 24mm compared to the old A4. In the back, there’s sufficient head and legroom for adults and the car’s wide enough to accommodate three adults, although footroom is eaten into by the transmission tunnel.
Audi A4 boot space
The Audi’s 480 litre boot is a match for the BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes C-Class, however the Audi just takes the lead against its rivals because it has the widest opening, the lowest load lip and the squarest shape of the lot. Plus fold down rear seats are standard on all models and they split three ways to free up a total 965 litres.
Now we all know the front-wheel drive A4 isn’t going to be as much fun on a country road as the rear-drive BMW 3 Series, but despite this less-than-optimum setup the A4 isn’t totally devoid of fun. But what most people care about is comfort, something that – with its quiet cabin (especially if you go for the £450 acoustic glazing) and compliant standard suspension – the Audi A4 provides plenty of.
All models come with Drive Select that allows the driver to setup the car to best suit the way they intend to drive it. There are three main preset modes to choose from – efficient, Comfort and Dynamic – that alter the car’s steering and throttle response. You would be hard pushed to notice any major difference between the three in normal driving, but the steering’s added weight in Sport makes the car feel more positive in the corners and more stable on the straights.
Choose the Adaptive Sport suspension (a £600 option that’s well worth going for) and Drive Select also alters the suspension, allowing drivers to choose from a firm ride, for better body control (and less body lean) in bends, or a softer setup for added comfort.
From launch, the A4 is available with quattro four-wheel drive and it comes as standard on the top-of-the-range 3.0-litre diesel. During the biblical rain storm of our test, it allowed the derv-powered flagship to power out of bends with no dramas, despite its colossal 443Ib ft of torque. Nearly 50Ib ft more than the R8 supercar offers.
As standard, all models come fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox and, in the basic diesel, it is a joy to use with tight and controlled shifts. We also sampled the eight-speed conventional auto that changes gears almost imperceptibly. Buyers have the option to specify a seven-speed DSG gearbox that should offer the best of both worlds.
Audi quattro with ultra technology
The A4 is available with the latest quattro system – called quattro with ultra technology. It has been designed to save fuel, while giving the stability of the conventional quattro system. It has a number of systems that decide when the car needs four-wheel drive, while the rest of the time a pair of clutches disconnect the rear wheels from the engine to cut down on mechanical drag and improve fuel economy by around 5mpg.
As usual, the new A4 comes with a huge choice of engines and the petrol and diesel ranges are equally impressive. There is an engine in the line-up that would suit anyone – from an efficient 1.4-litre petrol to the powerful 272hp 3.0-litre diesel, which boasts a tsunami of torque that makes overtaking at any legal speeds completely effortless.
Audi A4 petrol engines
The petrol range starts with a 1.4-litre producing 148hp, which we’ll come to in a moment, but the real gem of the entry level engines is the new 2.0-litre. It promises to combine the power of a conventional 2.0-litre engine with the fuel consumption of a 1.4. Fuel economy of 50.4mpg and emissions of 127g/km of CO2 (for £130 annual road tax) are commendable achievements in a car that has 190hp and gets from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds.
Now, that 1.4-litre petrol. It’s the entry-level engine, and it’s only available with a six-speed manual gearbox. It’s claimed to return fuel economy of 53.3mpg combined and emits 126g/km of CO2 thanks to clever cylinder-deactivation technology that can rest half the engine when it is not needed. Like the rest of the range, the 1.4-litre model benefits from a fuel-saving coasting function that senses when (going downhill, say) the car can maintain its speed using kinetic energy alone.
The standard petrol range is rounded off by a more powerful version of the 2.0-litre developing 250hp, but even it can return fuel economy of 47.9mpg.
If you want to turn up the wick or just plain set fire to it there’s always the S4 model. It’s what motor fans lovingly crown a Q car – one that’s packaged seriously swift performance in a body that could be mistaken for an S line diesel. Re-education comes in the form of a 349bhp turbocharged V6 that will leave you in no doubt this is no bassline smoker – it’s good to pelt the S4 from 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds. Still, there’s a sense of maturity to the experience, Audi has made it more comfortable than the old model – if you want a fully fledged speed machine the yet-to-be-announced RS4 will be the one for you – but that only makes it easier to live with every day. Quattro four-wheel drive and fuel economy that touches 40mpg do the same and the S4 comes with a slick-shifting eight-speed gearbox.
Audi A4 diesel engines
The A4’s 2.0-litre diesel is available in two power outputs – 150hp and 190hp. Both versions are very frugal emitting 99 and 102g/km of CO2, respectively, making the former free to tax. The 190hp version isn’t much more expensive at £20 a year. Fuel consumption figures are also very similar with the 150hp, unsurprisingly being more economical at 74.3mpg than the 190hp version, that’s capable of averaging 72.4mpg.
At the other end of the range is the 3.0-litre V6 also available in two power levels – 220hp and 272hp. The latter offers effortless power and four-wheel drive grip on rain-drenched roads. It gets from 0-62mph in just 5.3 seconds and makes short work of A-road overtakes.
The A4 scored the full five stars when it was crash tested by EuroNCAP in 2015. This comes as no surprise because the Audi gets all the safety features present on rivals – airbags, stability control, active cruise control and lane assist – and adds a load of kit on top.
That covers features such as Exit Warning, which can warn of approaching traffic before you open the car’s door; cross traffic assist, which alerts the driver to traffic passing the front of the vehicle and turn assist, which can warn of pedestrians or cyclists passing the side of the A4 if, for example, it’s turning left.
The Audi A4 range begins with SE trim, which comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, bright-shining Xenon headlights and keyless go. Helping the simplicity of the dashboard is the seven-inch display, but you’ll have to pay extra to have it combined with sat-nav. A rare standard feature is the car’s three-zone climate control, which sports heating controls for the driver, front passenger and rear seats.
Audi A4 Sport
Sport trim carries a £950 premium over the basic model and gets more distinctive five-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels, a revised body kit and a radiator grille finished in Twilight Grey matt, with chrome inlays. A sportier look inside comes thanks to more supportive front seats, a three-spoke steering wheel and cool lighting, plus you get sat-nav.
Audi A4 S line
Topping the range are the S line models. Anyone who liked the old A4’s S line model will spot the familiar formula of big 18-inch alloy wheels, a sharper-looking exterior courtesy of an S line body kit, (no-cost option) suspension that’s lowered by 20mm for a more ground-hugging appearance and white-light emitting LED headlights. Inside there’s cloth/leather seats, a gear knob finished in perforated leather and an S line steering wheel.
Audi has been spotted testing a prototype RS4 that could be launched in late 2016. This car will probably use a turbocharged V6 engine, similar to the one that could power the upcoming R8 V6 supercar, and will feature Audi’s famous quattro four-wheel-drive system.
The old A4 won plaudits from motoring journalists and buyers alike right up to its twilight years, so it’s no shock to find the new model bursts out the traps at considerable speed.
Audi interiors being Audi interiors, the new A4 has arguably the best in class. It perhaps lacks the luxury looks of the Mercedes C-Class’, or the sporty flavour offered by the dash in the BMW 3 Series, but has both matched for quality and space, while beating them for ease of use. Spec the Virtual Cockpit display and you have a truly winning formula.
Overall the Audi A4 is a very classy car but it does fall short in certain areas. It lacks excitement and options are expensive, but all in all, the arrival of the new A4 means choosing a small executive saloon just got that bit more difficult for rising-star executives.