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Used Audi A4 long-term test review
The Audi A4 is suave and sophisticated, not to mention a former What Car? Car of the Year, but how well will a nearly new example handle long-term use? We’re finding out...
The car 2020 Audi A4 35 TDI Black Edition Run by Mark Pearson, used cars editor
Why it’s here We want to find out whether a nearly new version of this premium executive saloon makes good sense
Needs to Prove that it can match rivals for dynamic ability, everyday usability, comfort and opulence, and also cope with the daily grind of family life and work
Mileage 5123 List price new (2020) £39,770 Price new with options £44,140 Value now £33,000 Test economy 47.3mpg Official economy 53.3mpg
28 July 2021 – The importance of being idle
People with a knowledge of Audis shoot me anxious looks when they see the sporty Black Edition trim, large 19in alloy wheels and narrow tyre sidewalls of my A4. They know the car's standard lowered Sports suspension has a reputation for firmness.
Well, it is true that S line Audis (which, bar a little black detailing, is essentially what my car is) have a firm ride. I admit it can feel a little stiff if I hit a recessed manhole or a broken surface, but interestingly no one who’s been a passenger has commented on it yet, and I haven't really given it much thought either.
Oh sure, it doesn’t waft like a Rolls-Royce, but I’ve been in many cars recently with more uncomfortable rides than this one. If I’d wanted something more forgiving, I’d have gone for an A4 in Technik or Sport Edition trim, both of which come with the softer Comfort Dynamic setup.
No, I wanted a hint of sportiness in the behaviour of my A4. I wanted it to feel sharper to drive and, by and large, it does, with more agility and less body lean in corners. Indeed, most of the time my car stays on a pretty even keel, and it’s good fun to punt around a twisty road.
You get five driving modes to choose from, in a system called Drive Select – Efficiency, Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual. Efficiency retards things slightly to use less energy, Comfort is a soft setting, Auto balances comfort and performance, and Dynamic ups the sportiness with increased responses and a bit of extra steering weight. Individual allows you to fine-tune your own combination of the various settings.
Being inherently indolent, I leave it in Comfort most of the time, with the occasional foray into Dynamic if I’m in the mood, where it feels quite lively. My only complaint would be that the button for changing mode is positioned on the far side of the dashboard from the driver and quite low down, so it’s a bit of a stretch to find it and operate it. You can also change modes using the touchscreen, but that can be a bit of a faff too.
So far, all my driving enjoyment in the A4 hasn't led to any scary fuel consumption. I've been recording figures in the high 40s, and a recent blast from Surrey down to deepest, darkest Sussex resulted in the digital readout on the dash showing an excellent 57mpg. That’s impressive for a well-equipped executive car that offers decent performance and plenty of space.
It’s even pretty good at the mundane. A trip to Ikea is always a test of the mettle, not only for the people who have to endure the visit but also for the car that gets them there and back. The A4 handled it in its usual suave way, and although it has a conventional boot opening rather than a more practical rear hatch, there's still plenty of room for various household odds and ends and smaller flat-pack items.