Audi's A4 & A5 - Now With Ultra Power

What's this then?

You'll probably recognise the current generation Audi A4 saloon above, but this one comes with "ultra" power. It's part of a range expansion to bring the ultra technology to Audi models that started with the A6 earlier this year.

So what's new?

If you're a fan of endurance racing you'll be familiar with Audi's ultra branding - it's appeared on their R18 prototype and R8 GT3 cars as they've swept the board of international endurance races over the last two years. It's effectively Audi shorthand for "fuel efficient".

In the case of the A5 ultra, this means a replacement of the low emission 2.0 TDIe engine already available in the range with a new, Euro6-compliant 2.0 TDI ultra unit that achieves the same power output but at a reduction in emissions of around 6%. With the A4 saloon and "Avant" estate, the 163hp ultra engineobsolesces the lower power 136hp TDIe by providing more power and torque but still returning better fuel economy - dropping the A4 saloon into a lower VED band.

How much will it cost me?

The A4 Saloon and Avant ultra are available at 28,320 and 29,320 respectively in SE specification - though you can upgrade to SE Technik for 1,000, adding Milano leather upholstery, hard disk-based MMI Navigation plus, Audi Music Interface (AMI) iPod connection and the Audi Parking System Plus with front and rear sensors. The Saloon returns 109g/km, dropping it into VED Band B, while the Avant's 114g/km leaves it in the same Band C as the TDIe model - you still get your first year free, but it's 30 annually thereafter, compared to 20 for the Saloon.

The A5 coupe is only available in SE specification at 31,120 and, like the A4 Saloon, drops into VED Band B.

Anything else?

All ultra models are exclusively front wheel drive and with manual transmissions as Audi chases the last puffs of carbon, so if you need a quattro to get you out of slippy stuff or eschew the act of pushing a clutch, you'll need to look elsewhere in the range.

Any alternatives?

Where an Audi goes, a BMW and Mercedes will also be present. With the A4 and A5 you'll be looking to the BMW 3 series and 4 series and the Mercedes C Class in both saloon and coupe forms.

BMW also offers a fuel-economy brand dubbed Efficient Dynamics and the BMW 320d produced under this umbrella is exactly as powerful and frugal as the A4 and at more or less the same price - also offering an equally clean eight speed automatic. There isn't a 4 series at present that makes a suitable comparison.

Mercedes has its own green canopy too in the shape of BlueEFFICIENCY. Like the 3 series, the C-Class 220 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY is available with manual or automatic (only seven speed here though), but unlike the BMW it's available in all three body styles - estate, saloon, coupe. The auto does harm the emissions though.

In a line...

One for the company moneymen - coming to an outside lane near you soon.

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