The Audi A4 has been given a face-lift and improved efficiency as it prepares to battle the exceptional new BMW 3 Series.
The new car gets a redesigned front bumper, a bonnet with more pronounced creases, and a mildly reshaped grille. The sharper shaped headlights are the most noticeable change, bringing the looks more into line with the rest of Audi's range.
What business users will immediately notice are the emissions figures, with the cleanest model – the 134bhp 2.0-litre TDIe – producing just 112g/km of CO2. The 161bhp TDIe isn't far behind, with a figure of 115g/km.
The A4 also gets a new steering set-up that's designed to save fuel, along with changes to the infotainment system.
2012 Audi A4: What's it like to drive?
We tried two diesels: the 141bhp 2.0 TDI and the 134bhp 2.0 TDIe. Neither version is particularly rapid, although the 2.0 TDIe feels significantly slower because of its longer gear ratios. Both are smooth and quiet, though.
The new steering set-up is geared towards efficiency, and it isn't as engaging as that of a BMW 3 Series. It makes the A4 easy to manoeuvre at low speeds, but isn't responsive enough to deliver an entertaining drive away from the city streets.
The A4 does feel assured through corners and grips well. The suspension thuds over poor surfaces, but the A4 manages to keep vibration through the cabin to a minimum.
2012 Audi A4: What's it like inside?
It's much like the car it replaces, which means there's a good range of adjustment to the seat and steering wheel. However, it can still be difficult to get comfortable, because the pedals are offset to the right.
There's plenty of room in the front, and while space in the rear is okay, rear passengers don't get as much room as their counterparts in a BMW 3 Series.
The biggest change is to the MMI infotainment system. It's been simplified, with fewer buttons on the dashboard and central console.
There are still some poor-quality materials on display, though – around the gearlever, for instance, and down by your calves.
2012 Audi A4: Should I buy one?
The fresher looks certainly add appeal, and the A4 is significantly cheaper than the BMW 3 Series, with prices for the diesel versions starting at £26,555 – more than £1500 less than the 320d.
However, the BMW is quicker, cleaner and much more enjoyable to drive, so it remains the class leader by some distance.
BMW 3 Series
What Car? says…
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