Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
We’d go for the 161bhp 35 TDI diesel, which is our pick of the entire Audi A4 range. It has plenty of low-down punch so you can tootle around town effortlessly, with enough pace to whisk you up to motorway speeds effectively (0-62mph takes 8.2sec). Then there's the 201bhp 40 TDI, which manages even easier B-road overtakes, although we’d argue that it’s not worth the additional costs.
What about the petrols? Well, the 148bhp 35 TFSI needs to be worked fairly hard to build speed, which is why we prefer the 201bhp 40 TFSI (the best option if you don't want a diesel). It provides a considerable performance boost over the 35 TFSI and works really well in every situation (0-62mph takes 7.1sec – about the same as the 320i BMW 3 Series) without pushing up running costs too much. If that’s not fast enough, we’d point you towards the even quicker Audi S4 or the downright rapid Audi RS4 Avant.
Technik and Sport Edition trims have our favourite Comfort Dynamic set-up. That puts comfort first, especially if you stick with the default 17in or 18in alloy wheels. It deals very effectively with all manner of lumps and bumps, yet still controls body movements extremely well over dips and crests. Larger wheels tend to make the ride harsher, though.
The S line and Black Edition trims come with Sport suspension as standard. It's a stiffer, lower set-up (by 23mm) that sharpens the handling but at the expense of comfort, introducing a little extra bumpiness at low speeds.
All versions of the A4 handle predictably and securely. Their steering is precise and weights up consistently as you turn in to bends, and they grip the road very well. Cars equipped with the stiffer Sport suspension feel the most nimble, remaining flatter through corners and changing direction with the most eagerness.