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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For The A4 has been built to last, and it's got an understated, elegant body

Against It's dull to drive compared to a 3 Series, and the small boot aperture is awkward when loading large items

Verdict Top-quality cabin makes the A4 great for long journeys, and the car will last years, too

Go for… 1.9 TDi 110bhp SE

Avoid…

Audi A4 Saloon
  • 1. Room up front is generous but it's quite tight in the back
  • 2. Engines and drivetrains last well
  • 3. Axle and suspension faults make up half of all claims for repairs made to Warranty Direct
  • 4. Clunks from the front could well be worn suspension bushes or wishbones
  • 5. The small opening can make getting things in and out of the boot a pain
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Audi A4 Saloon full review with expert trade views

The high-quality, flush-fitting dash and trim set the standards of the time, while the fully adjustable seat and wheel place any driver just where he or she wants to be. The view out is clear and switchgear is well sited, though the stereo has too many tiny buttons.

Room up front is generous but it's tighter for rear passengers and the boot's small opening can make loading a pain.

The A4 is relaxed and safe on the motorway, and wind and road noise is muted. Its ride is composed, although sudden jolts can intrude and it can't match a BMW's precise steering, grip and feedback.

The controls are well damped and smooth, but the brakes can be a challenge – more than a dab on the pedal and you'll jerk to a stop. Euro NCAP awarded three stars for occupant crash protection but warned that the driver risked fatal injuries in a severe side-on impact.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Well built and should go on forever - diesels are the strongest choice

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

Pick from engines ranging from 1.6 to 2.8 petrols and 1.9 to 2.5 diesels.

The mid-rangers flatter the car's talents best, so go for the 1.8 petrol or two 1.9 turbodiesels, and preferably the 110bhp rather than the 90bhp version. Need more power? Go for the punchy 1.8 turbo, or the six-cylinder 2.8, both of which come with front- or four-wheel drive.

All A4s came with plenty of equipment, inlcuding twin airbags, anti-lock brakes, central locking and electric mirrors and windows. Side airbags became standard from 1997.

To be sure of desirables such as alloy wheels and climate control, you need the SE. Step up to Sport and you get more contoured seats, a three-spoke steering wheel and extra instruments.

Of the three trim levels, SE is by far the most common and the best.

Hunt down a quality independent dealer specialising in Audis. Auctions throw up bargains, but bid only when you're satisfied that the car's sound and straight.

Trade view

John Owen

Still well sought after - strong 110/115 diesels the only choice

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

Shouldn't do. Early ones are now very cheap to buy, while last-of-line Y-reg offer serious value.

Engines and transmissions last well and shouldn't hit your finances hard, while servicing is affordable providing you avoid Audi dealers and seek out a good independent garage. However, the car's reliability record isn't great and bills for high-priced spares can easily mount up.

Warranty Direct reports that repairs are typically a third dearer than on a BMW 3 Series. A professional pre-purchase inspection is a smart way to avoid trouble.

Insurance groups rate between 12 and 17, depending on engine and trim, making costs similar to a BMW 3-series.

Diesels return an easy 40mpg providing you keep a light throttle foot, while petrol 1.8s run to mid-30s. Others do 30mpg or less.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Well built and should go on forever - diesels are the strongest choice

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

Engines and drivetrains last well but the suspension, electrics and cooling system need regular, sometimes expensive, work.

Axle and suspension faults made up half of all claims to Warranty Direct. Clonks from the front as the car drives could just be worn-out suspension bushes, which are cheap to fix, but they could also signal worn wishbones, which are dearer. Shock absorbers need renewing after 60,000 miles, particularly on diesel models.

Some cars now fail the MoT test because of duff catalytic converters, which cost a stiff three-figure sum to renew. Meanwhile, non-turbo 1.8s have a nasty habit of snapping cambelts (which can wreck the engine) before the scheduled replacement cycle of five years or 60,000 miles.

On early cars, auto gearboxes may need an overhaul and the cost of that may exceed the car's total value.

Trade view

John Owen

Still well sought after - strong 110/115 diesels the only choice

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford
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