Audi A4 Saloon full 9 point review
Most A4s are sold with diesel engines, and our favourite is the 134bhp 2.0 TDIe – it’s powerful enough for the job and makes the most economic sense. There are other 2.0-litre units that get progressively stronger (141bhp, 161bhp and 175bhp), the most powerful of which is so strong that it makes the heavier 3.0 V6 seem rather pointless. If you can’t countenance diesel power, the 1.8 and 2.0 TFSI petrol units deliver swift performance.
Ride & Handling
Although it doesn't live up to Audi's billing as a sporty car to drive, the A4 is good enough, with well balanced handling and lots of grip. The steering weights up at speed, but has a rubbery feel. However, ride comfort is the A4’s Achilles Heel: all too often the car seems to make a meal of apparently smooth surfaces.
On the whole, the A4's cabin is quiet. Wind- and suspension noise aren't a problem, but a little too much road noise makes its way into the cabin. Most of the engines are quiet, too, especially the four-cylinder diesels, but the 1.8 petrol becomes gruff when worked hard.
Buying & Owning
Audi generally undercuts its rivals from BMW and Mercedes when it comes to list prices, and that's true of the core of the A4 range, if not the pricey V6 four-wheel-drive models. There are big discounts available to private buyers, re-sale values tend to be very good and emissions are competitive if not best in class. Overall, the A4’s buying and ownership costs are reasonable, but there are better-value options out there – particularly Audi’s own A3 Saloon.
Quality & Reliability
Audi's reputation hinges on quality so the A4 is a bit of a disappointment. At first glance it looks great, but the cabin just doesn't feel quite as special as it should. Audi reliability isn't always as good as buyers expect, and the A4 rated as below average in this respect in the 2012 JD Power survey.
Safety & Security
The A4 ticks most boxes for safety kit, with six airbags and stability control as standard. Rear side airbags are available as an option, as are lane-departure- and blind spot-warning systems. Deadlocks and an alarm are fitted as standard to guard against theft.
Behind The Wheel
A wide range of adjustment for the seat and steering wheel means that the A4 caters for drivers of all shapes and sizes. However, the pedals are heavily offset to the right so it can be difficult to get comfortable. Forward visibility is fine, but the rear view is compromised. Controls are logically arranged and Audi's MMI control system is fairly intuitive to use, but the A4's dash layout is busy and can be confusing at times.
Space & Practicality
The A4 accommodates four adult passengers pretty well. Headroom is tighter than in most rival cars, but there’s enough rear legroom to compensate, so tall passengers can just scooch down and relax. The boot is the same size as the BMW 3 Series’, and it's a usefully regular shape. Split-folding rear seats are standard.
Basic SE trim is our favourite, with 17-inch alloys, three-zone climate control, cruise control, Bluetooth, rear parking sensors and automatic headlights and wipers. Diesel-engined SEs can be upgraded with the Technik pack (leather upholstery, sat-nav etc), while sporty S line adds larger alloys and lower sports suspension, as well as a unique look. Beyond that, the Black Editions are based on S line, and add 19-inch alloys, a black styling package and an uprated stereo with DAB radio.