The A4’s comfortable, easy to drive and cheap to run but even the fastest 3.0-litre V6 models aren’t all that fun to drive
You can get the Audi A4 with four diesel and three petrol engines and with either front or four-wheel drive.
The entry-level 1.4-litre petrol might sound a little small for a car this size but it’s perfect for pottering around town or heading out onto the motorways. It’s slightly smoother and quieter than the 2.0-litre diesels at slow speeds and returns a claimed 53.3mpg – although you’ll probably see a figure in the low forties in real-world conditions.
If you do lots of miles you’ll want to consider one of the 2.0-litre diesels instead. These 150hp and 190hp cars are slightly more at home cruising along at motorway speeds and will return around 55mpg and 50mpg respectively in normal driving conditions.
You can also get a more powerful 252hp 2.0-litre petrol that’ll sprint from 0-62mpg in less than six seconds but it’s more expensive to buy and struggles to return more than 35mpg.
There’s also a 3.0-litre V6 diesel model with either 218hp or 272hp that’s perfect if you want a motorway cruiser that’s fast and relaxing to drive. The more powerful version is both quicker than the top-spec petrol (it’ll accelerate from 0-62mph in just 5.3 seconds) and cheaper to run. You can expect it to return around 45mpg in real-world conditions.
The Audi A4 feels more grown-up and relaxing than the BMW 3 Series and Jaguar XE. It’s not as much fun as either on a twisty country road, however
At the top of the performance tree you’ll find S4 and RS4 versions. These are both seriously rapid machines that’ll accelerate from 0-62mph in less than five seconds but you’ll have to set aside around £45,000 and £60,000 respectively to park one on your driveway – and that’s before you start adding options.
All 2.0-litre petrol and 3.0-litre diesel A4s come with automatic gearboxes as standard. The former features a twin-clutch system that’s responsive but a little jerky at slow speeds while the latter comes with a conventional auto that’s smoother but doesn’t feel quite as sporty.
Unfortunately, the DSG automatic costs an extra £1,530 on 1.4-litre petrol cars and £1,550 on 2.0-litre diesel models but it’s well worth paying for. It really helps take the stress out of long journeys and gives your left leg a rest in traffic jams.
You can get Audi’s quattro four-wheel-drive system fitted to all but the less powerful 1.4 and 2.0-litre petrol cars, but the standard front-wheel-drive models are easily grippy enough. Only consider forking out for a quattro model if you find yourself regularly stuck up slippery country lanes of live somewhere that suffers from particularly icy winter weather.
The A4 might be larger than most family cars but it’s still relatively easy to drive around town. The pillars between the windscreen and the doors don’t create any particularly large blindspots at junctions and you get front and rear parking sensors as standard to help make parking a doddle.
The A4’s suspension does a good job ironing out bumps around town – even with the larger 19-inch alloy wheels on top-spec Black Edition models. The optional £325 sports suspension can make it feel slightly unsettled at slow speeds, however.
The more expensive Adaptive Sports Suspension does a much better job – it’s soft and supple over bumpy roads yet stops the A4’s body leaning too much in tight corners so your passengers won’t feel car sick. Unfortunately, it’ll set you back £900 on SE and Sport models and £600 on S Line and Black Edition versions.
Even without the adaptive suspension, the A4’s very relaxing to drive. All A4s come with cruise control as standard and you’ll hear less wind and tyre noise at motorway speeds than in the Mercedes, BMW or Jaguar.
The A4 earned a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP back in 2015. The tests have been made stricter since then but the Audi’s still one of the safest small saloons on sale thanks to its standard-fit active safety kit. All models come with automatic emergency braking – that’ll brake for you if it detects an obstacle in the road ahead – and a system that’ll make sure the brakes are applied after a crash to help prevent neck injuries in case of a second collision.
For even greater peace of mind you’ll want to pick the Driver Assistance Pack. It costs an extra £1,250 but comes with traffic sign recognition, lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control that’ll maintain a safe distance to traffic ahead before returning to a preset speed when the road’s clear.