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Used Audi A4 long-term test
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 6913 List price new (2020) £39,770 Price new with options £44,140 Dealer price now £34,000 Trade-in price £29,800 Private price £30,591 Test economy 47.3mpg Official economy 53.3mpg Running costs (excluding depreciation) £248
8 September – Auf wiedersehen to an impressive Audi
Going against the trend is something not to be recommended unless you are very sure your reasoning is completely sound.
I mentioned at the beginning of my time with the Audi A4 that as I was buying into a diesel-powered four-door saloon car with a mildly sporting disposition, the rest of the world seemed irresistibly drawn to large, comfortable and far more stylish SUVs propelled by petrol, electricity or a combination of the two.
As you can probably tell, I took a gamble there, but I believe I was right. You see, not once during the ownership of my A4 did I have cause to regret my choice, so refined, so efficient and so suave was it. It certainly helped that it looked so good – it attracted lots of attention parked outside a smart urban cafe or gastropub. Men may not always grow more handsome as they get older, but the A4 definitely does.
This one was helped by its sporting pretensions, of course. The Black Edition version adds some tasty detailing (black, of course) to the already lowered and bejewelled body of what is in essence an S line A4. Add in some neat five-spoke alloy wheels and the ravishing Quantum grey paintwork and these subtleties are enough to turn a humdrum executive car into a desirable and premium gentlemen’s express.
It helped, too, that my biggest gamble paid off. Choosing a diesel-powered car could have been a mighty disappointment if my power unit had not risen to the occasion. Under the A4’s sleek bonnet, the 163bhp 2.0 TDI unit produced enough oomph for the question of inadequate performance never to arise. Even more impressive was its refinement at any speed above about 20mph, to the extent that I’m quite sure not one of my passengers was aware this car was diesel-powered, and at times nor was I. True, there is a grumble to it when starting, but it soon blends into the background as you move off.
Even more impressive was the economy I achieved with it. I consistently recorded mpg figures in the high 40s, and a blast from Surrey down to deepest, darkest Sussex resulted in the digital readout on the dash showing an excellent 57mpg. My overall average of 47.3mpg was a very pleasing result.
And that S line suspension? Oh sure, it doesn’t waft like an old Cadillac, but I’ve been in many cars recently with more uncomfortable rides than this one, and if I’d wanted something more forgiving, I’d have gone for an A4 in a different setup. I wanted my A4 to feel sharper to drive and, by and large, it did. It was actually good fun to punt around a twisty road.
The only fly was the ubiquitous lag in the gearbox. When you put your foot down at a low-speed crawl, there's a noticeable lag between order and action. The A4 is not alone in this, of course, because a lot of new cars are tuned for low emissions rather than an eager response. I guess it partly explains my good fuel consumption figures.
Oh yes, and then there was the issue of price. You see, my A4 was used. It cost £39,770 in its basic form when new, and £44,140 with all the extras attached. My six-month-old one with 4500 miles on the clock was worth about £33,000 when I picked it up, and such have been the serpentine charms of this last unpredictable year that it is now worth slightly more, around £34,000. That’s still a useful saving on the new price, though.
So, sophisticated, premium motoring, and it’s cheap to run and delightful to be in (did I even mention the upmarket interior?). In fact, a pleasure to own. Oh, and it’s gone up in value. You see now why I think I was right to go the way I did, and would have no hesitation in doing so again in the future.
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