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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For The Audi A4 is solidly screwed together and has a very classy cabin

Against It's not as sharp to drive as the BMW 3 Series, and the 1.6 petrol is a bit weedy

Verdict The A4 has a strong image, strong cabin and even stronger ownership appeal

Go for… 2.0 TDI SE

Avoid…

Audi A4 Saloon
  • 1. The transmission tunnel in the floor eats into the foot space for the centre rear passenger
  • 2. There have been problems with the air-con, but see if the previous owner had it fixed under warranty
  • 3. Metallic paint and S-Line trim are sought after, so will be easy to sell on in the future
  • 4. If you're looking at a high-mileage car, check for problems with the front suspension
  • 5. 1.8T models are prone to ignition coil failure, so see if any possible buy has had them replaced
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Audi A4 Saloon full review with expert trade views

The A4 saloon is one of those cars that’s more rewarding to own than to drive. Don’t get us wrong – it drives very well; it’s just that it’s even better to own.

For a start, the cabin is crisp, contemporary and oozes quality. The materials are high class and there’s all the kit you need, including plenty of safety equipment.

It’s roomy, too, but the transmission tunnel robs the middle rear passenger of some comfort, so think of it as a spacious four-seater. The boot is a decent size – the same as a 3 Series’ and fractionally bigger than a C-Class's.

You’ll find most versions are refined long-distance haulers and cushion you adequately from bumps and potholes, although not quite as well as the C-Class.

Both front-wheel-drive and quattro four-wheel-drive versions are grippy and turn in smartly to corners, but the steering could do with more feel.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Customers are spec-aware, strong metallic and SE sought after

James Ruppert
Used car guru

This A4 saloon was launched at the end of 2000 and, although the model launched in 2005 looks completely different on the outside, it's essentially the same car underneath and is no more spacious inside.

The A4 range offers a wide choice of engines, from a basic 1.6-litre petrol right up to a 339bhp 4.2-litre S4, with every kind of diesel and petrol engines in between.

There are front-wheel-drive and quattro four-wheel-drive models, and trims include basic (no name), SE (our choice), and Sport (firmer suspension, and interior).

We'd go for the 1.9 TDI 130 as the best all-round choice, although the 1.9 TDI 100 is still easy to live with, if a little less powerful. If you want something a bit more potent, the 1.8-litre turbo petrol is swift and flexible, and the V6s (diesel and petrol) are refined and effortless.

Independent specialists are the best place to track down this generation of A4, but don't rule out car supermarkets or even private sellers. Some ambitious sellers try to cash in on Audi's reputation, so make sure you don't pay over the odds.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Low likelihood of breakdown, but watch for cooling and heating problems

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

The A4 should cost you less to maintain than a BMW 3 Series, Jaguar X-type, Lexus IS or Mercedes C-Class.

What's more, many of the engines and underpinnings are shared by other cars in the Volkswagen Group, so you're likely to find a competent independent garage that could save you a huge amount on franchised dealer labour rates.

Insurance costs are good compared with those of its rivals, too. The cheapest to insure, the 1.6-litre, slots into group 10, but you'll need big pockets for the extreme S4, which is group 20.

The frugal engines contribute to low running costs but, best of all, the A4 holds its value well as it ages, so it'll be worth a substantial amount when it's time to sell it on. You can see why we said earlier that it's even more rewarding to own than to drive.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Customers are spec-aware, strong metallic and SE sought after

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Audi has a good reputation for producing solidly built cars and this one is no exception. The A4 has put in an above-average performance in previous JD Power customer satisfaction reports and came in near the top in What Car?'s Reliability Surveys.

However, it's not without its faults. There have been many reports of faulty air-con, which Audi will fix under its three-year, 60,000-mile warranty.

We’ve heard of problems with the synchromesh on manual gearboxes, ignition coils on 1.8 turbo petrol cars and front suspension on a few higher-mileage examples. However, there’s little else, although a small number of cars suffer minor electrical faults.

Diesel A4s often drink their way through a stack of oil when new, but consumption settles down once the engine has bedded in. Still, check for any damage caused by a first owner who was too lazy to inspect the dipstick often enough.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Low likelihood of breakdown, but watch for cooling and heating problems

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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