This sporty Audi A4 is finished in Floret Silver with Anthracite half leather sports seats. It is extremely well-equipped with Sat Nav, 18
Petrol 49.6 combined MPG
Location: Volvo Preston - Stock At This Dealer
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Our Audi A4 S Line has sporty styling cues mated to a smooth and powerful engine offering a great driving experience. Call us today for more info or to arrange a test drive.
CO2: 130 g/km
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This sporty Audi A4 is finished in Floret Silver with Anthracite half leather sports seats. It is extremely well-equipped with Sat Nav, 18" 5 Spoke Alloys, Dual Zone Electronic Climate Control, Audi Multimedia System including DAB Radio and Bluetooth Audio Streaming, Front & Rear Park Assist and much more. Call our friendly team at Doves Volvo Preston today for more information and to take a test drive.
|Badge Engine CC:||2.0|
|Based On ID:||N|
|Coin Description:||T FSI|
|Coin Series:||S Line|
|Insurance Group 1 - 50 Effective January 07:||26E|
|Man Corrosion Perforation Guarantee - Years:||12|
|Manufacturers Paintwork Guarantee - Years:||3|
|NCAP Adult Occupant Protection %:||90|
|NCAP Child Occupant Protection %:||87|
|NCAP Overall Rating - Effective February 09:||5|
|NCAP Pedestrian Protection %:||75|
|NCAP Safety Assist %:||75|
|Standard manufacturers warranty - Mileage:||60000|
|Standard manufacturers warranty - Years:||3|
|Vehicle Homologation Class:||M1|
|Standard Euro Emissions:||EURO 6|
|Engine Layout:||NORTH SOUTH|
|Fuel Delivery:||TURBO INJECTION|
|Number of Valves:||16|
|EC Combined (mpg):||49.6|
|EC Directive 1999/100/EC Applies:||True|
|EC Extra Urban (mpg):||58.9|
|EC Urban (mpg):||38.7|
|0 to 62 mph (secs):||7.2|
|Engine Power - BHP:||190|
|Engine Power - KW:||140|
|Engine Power - PS:||True|
|Engine Power - RPM:||4200|
|Engine Torque - LBS.FT:||236|
|Engine Torque - MKG:||33|
|Engine Torque - NM:||320|
|Engine Torque - RPM:||1450|
|Tyre Size Front:||245/40 R18|
|Tyre Size Rear:||245/40 R18|
|Tyre Size Spare:||SPACE SAVER|
|Wheel Style:||5 TWIN SPOKE|
|Wheel Type:||18" ALLOY|
|Height (including roof rails):||N|
|Width (including mirrors):||2022|
|Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres):||54|
|Gross Vehicle Weight:||1960|
|Luggage Capacity (Seats Down):||965|
|Luggage Capacity (Seats Up):||480|
|Max. Loading Weight:||580|
|Max. Roof Load:||90|
|Max. Towing Weight - Braked:||1700|
|Max. Towing Weight - Unbraked:||720|
|No. of Seats:||5|
|Turning Circle - Kerb to Kerb:||11.5|
The fifth generation Audi A4 offers potent performance in S4 guise. As with all previous versions, this is a saloon (or estate) that doesn't shout about its speed, despite it being faster than ever. The experts at Car and Driving check it out.
With the continued popularity of diesels, you might wonder what the point of Audi's S4 is. After all, who wants a thirsty petrol V6 when the V6 diesel has 272PS? Still, economy is better than ever, while the S4 is now capable of 0-62mph in less than 5 seconds. That's reason enough for us.
The S4 has been a fixture in Audi's range since 1991 and has largely followed the same formula. Sure, engine-wise, it might have been offered with (in order of appearance) a turbocharged in-line five, a V8, a twin turbo V6, another V8 and a supercharged V6, but all have been mounted up front with power sent to all four wheels. All have also been available as a saloon or Avant (estate) guise too. The main thing that all S4 models have shared is discreetness. Unlike some rivals, this Audi has never shouted about the level of performance it offers. There might be extra exhaust pipes, subtle badging and some attractive alloy wheels but Audi have always avoided bulging arches, vents and in your face body kits - there's the RS4 for that. And so we come to this current generation model, a car that returns to the turbocharged V6 format but offers more power than ever. How does it stack up to its predecessors?
While it may seem like Audi have simply replaced the supercharger of the previous model's V6 with a turbo, the 3.0 TFSI unit is in fact all new. The lightweight motor churns out 354PS, 10PS more than the throbbing 4.2-litre V8 that was once fitted to the S4. Being turbocharged, there's plenty of torque this time round too; 500Nm to be precise. While you might expect this to be coupled to one of Audi's dual-clutch semi-automatic gearboxes, there is in fact an eight speed Tiptronic unit. Despite this older style of gearbox, a reduction in weight helps this become the fastest S4 ever. 0-62mph is dispatched in an exceedingly rapid 4.7 seconds, while the top speed is limited to 155mph as you would expect. Unlike some of its older brothers, this latest S4 should prove to be fun when the road gets twisty too. Under normal conditions, the centre differential channels 60% of the engine's torque rearwards. This can be as much as 85% or as little as 30% should slippage be detected. Handling prowess can be further enhanced with an optional sports rear differential that can actively shuffle torque between the rear wheels as well.
Like the regular A4, the S4 is based on Audi's latest 'MLB' platform that uses a combination of high strength steels and aluminium to reduce weight. This is down to 1,630kg for a standard S4 saloon, despite the car being marginally longer and wider, if not taller. Indeed, the S4 has sports suspension that makes it 23mm closer to the ground than a normal A4. To look at this model externally, you'd be hard pushed to know how potent the S4 is. There are the now traditional aluminium-look mirror housings, four exhaust tips, a subtle lip on the boot lid, plus S4 specific front and rear bumpers. Unlike the exterior which is very much an evolution of the previous generation of S4, the interior is a lot more avant garde. There's a flat bottomed S4 badged steering wheel, matt brushed aluminium inlays for various trim pieces and predominantly black fabrics and trim everywhere else. There are 'S' sports seats in Nappa leather and Alcantara that not only hold the driver tighter than a regular seat, they also have a massage function too. There is of course plenty of room for five passengers inside, while the 480-litre boot (505-litre in the Avant) should take a fair amount of luggage too.
You'll need a £46,000 budget for your S4. That prices the car in direct competition with the BMW 340i. If that's an agreeable figure, the first question you need to ask yourself is whether you prefer your Teutonic express as either a saloon or estate. While the saloon may be a little lighter, if you're going for subtle speed, an estate seems the obvious choice. For your money, you get S sport suspension, 18" wheels, S-specific styling cues inside and out including model specific bumpers, plus leather and Alcantara sports seats inside. As with any Audi, it's all too easy to bump the price up by a five figure sum if you option stuff like the 19" wheels, sports rear differential, head up display and the Audi virtual cockpit. At least you shouldn't have to pay out for additional safety features. On top of everything we've come to expect, there's adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist so the car almost drives itself up to 40mph. For when you are in full control, there's park assist, a cross traffic warning, plus autonomous braking.
Especially when compared to the old 4.2-litre V8 variants, this turbocharged V6 S4 may not be as expensive to run as you may expect. Yes, the V6 diesel is cheaper still and we're not even going to bring the four cylinder models into the equation, but the S4 isn't much worse than some hot hatches. Combined fuel consumption is 38.2mpg, with carbon emissions at 170g/km. Naturally, those figures will get significantly worse if you start to explore the performance on offer. Something else to be wary of is loading the car full of options. Big petrol engines aren't great for resale in this country anyway, so don't make things worse by ticking loads of boxes on the spec sheet. While it might seem worthwhile at the time, it's unlikely the next buyer will pay extra for a lot of the equipment unless it's the sport differential or maybe the adaptive damping. The warranty is for three years or 60,000 miles. However, this can be extended for a fee.
The Audi S4 has always been the grown-up choice for people after a performance saloon; the choice for those not wishing to scream about what their car can do. While it may not be capable of big, smoky drifts, it'll be fast point-to-point no matter what the road surface is like or what the weather is doing. That will appeal to many people out there. The trouble is that there is competition from within the A4 range. With the most powerful diesel churning out 272PS yet still capable of 54.3mpg on the combined cycle, you really have to want the fastest non-RS version of the A4 - or just hate diesel. The fuel consumption is about the only concern we'd have though. As a sensible yet quick and capable transport for five people, the S4 is tough to beat.
Audi's A4 has sharpened up its act a little in the face of tough competition from BMW's 3 Series, Mercedes' C-Class and the Jaguar XE in the image-conscious compact executive sector. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
This fifth generation Audi A4 now features a sharper look and continues to claim to be class-leading in nearly all the areas that really matter to business buyers in the compact executive segment. That means efficiency, cabin quality, practicality and technology. As a result, it'll be hard to ignore if you're looking for a car of this kind.
Audi knows a thing or two about mid-sized family cars with a prestigious feel, compact executive contenders like this A4. This model, along with BMW's 3 Series, has driven huge growth in that compact executive segment, vanquishing Mercedes' C-Class in the process. Today though, things are different. The C-Class has been rejuvenated into a much stronger proposition, the 3 Series range has been usefully improved and a very accomplished class rival has arrived in the form of Jaguar's XE. This MK5 model A4 is Audi's response. What we have here is a car that's lighter, sleeker and cleverer than it's ever been. As a result, this Audi is inevitably more efficient too, with a tax-beating sub-100g/km of CO2 figure now promised on the most frugal diesel models. Inside, we're promised the classiest cabin in the segment - and one of the most technologically advanced. Plus, as usual, there's the option of quattro 4WD and either saloon or Avant estate bodystyles.
The A4 has always struck an appealing balance between handling and comfort and with this MK5 model, the Ingolstadt engineers sought to improve its credentials still further by developing a new five-link suspension system. Optional adjustable shock absorbers with 'sports' and 'comfort' modes will enable owners to get the most from this and a dynamic steering system is another extra cost feature that'll reward those you like their driving. Both features can be controlled through the standard Audi drive select driving-dynamics system, which alters throttle response and auto gearshift timings in its most basic form. Talking of auto gearshifts, the old CVT automatic gearbox has gone, replaced by a seven speed dual clutch 'S tronic' unit that claims to be able to improve both performance and fuel consumption. As before, the A4 differs from its BMW 3 Series rival in its use of front wheel drive for most models. Also as before though, quattro 4WD is optional - and standard on the top V6 variants. The most powerful of these models even has the option of a sports differential for the rear axle to maximise traction. Refreshingly in a segment dominated by cars fueling themselves from the black pump, TFSI petrol models are still very much part of the mainstream A4 range, a 150PS 1.4-litre unit offered alongside a pokey 2.0-litre powerplant offering either 190PS or 252PS. There's also a 354PS 3.0-litre TFSI sporting S4 model near the top of the range. And a 450PS 2.9-litre V6 RS 4 Avant model beyond that. Most A4 buyers though, will continue to want a diesel, probably the 2.0 TDI 150PS variant, which gets to 62mph from rest in a brisk 8.6s. If you want more diesel power, then a 190PS version of this unit is also available, plus there's a 218PS 3.0 TDI V6 model further up the range.
The external changes made to this fifth generation A4 are relatively slight. The volume 'SE' and 'Sport' versions get a revised front and rear bumper design, more pronounced side skirts, a special finish for the Singleframe and side air inlet grilles, a roof edge spoiler in Avant versions and a rear diffuser flanked by new look trapezoidal tailpipes. The 'SE' versions retain wheels of the same 17-inch diameter as before but in a new design, while 'Sport' models upgrade to a smarter, larger 18-inch wheel. The top 'S line' and 'Black Edition' models get a more striking 3D-look finish for the Singleframe front grille, plus 'S line' variants get new 19-inch wheels and a re-designed rear diffuser. Otherwise, it's as you were, which - to remind you - sees this MK5 model A4 riding on a light, stiff MLB platform and boasting the lowest drag coefficient in its class. As ever, there's a choice of either saloon or Avant estate bodystyles, the latter offering 505-litre boot - or 1,510-litres with the rear seats folded. The interior is of course typically Audi and a very classy place to be. Everything is well laid out with high grade materials in all areas you'll interact with regularly. There's the option of getting an 8.3" touchscreen mounted on top of the dashboard but even if you stick with the standard centre dash infotainment screen, you'll get an up-to-the-minute set-up able to support the latest Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Overall, you wouldn't call the appearance of this A4's cabin exciting but it would certainly be a soothing environment for long journeys. It's surely clever, a key option being the neat 'Audi virtual cockpit' we first saw on the TT sportscar. This replaces all the dials in front of the driver with a 12.3-inch high resolution LCD screen.
Prices have inevitably risen slightly, but still occupy much the same bracket as before, so expect to be paying somewhere between £28,000 and £40,000 for most models, with a premium of £1,400 for the Avant estate bodystyle. You get four trim levels - 'SE', 'Sport', 'S line' and 'Black Edition'. And there's a choice of three transmission options, a six-speed manual gearbox, plus two auto set-ups, a seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic and an older-tech eight-speed tiptronic. At least standard equipment is pretty complete across the line-up. All trim levels include alloy wheels of at least 17-inches in size, Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, the 'Audi smartphone' interface, the 'Audi drive select' driving dynamics system, three-zone climate control and a 7-inch colour MMI infotainment monitor. We'd want to look at a couple of key options. The 'Audi phone box' connects smartphones to the on-board antenna and charges them. Meanwhile, for discerning hi-fi fans, a Bang & Olufsen 3D Sound System with innovative 3D sound is available. As for safety, well along with the usual airbags and electronic safety nets such as ABS and stability control, there's optional active lane assist, a rear cross traffic alert, collision avoidance assist plus a cruise control system that assists with tiresome traffic-jams.
Running costs are of course a vital consideration in this segment and this A4 offers some impressive numbers thanks to this generation model's weight reductions and that sleeker shape. The volume 2.0 TDI 150PS ultra diesel variant delivers best-in-class readings of 74.3mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions of 99g/km. Opt for the pokier 2.0 TDI 190PS variant and the figures become 72.4mpg and 102g/km, so there's no huge penalty for the extra performance. The particularly cultured V6 TDI engines also show impressive restraint. The 218PS version with seven-speed S tronic transmission registers a 109g/km output when combined with Sport specification and front-wheel-drive. Also deserving of a special mention is the 2.0 TFSI petrol engine with 190PS. It slashes CO2 output to as little as 116g/km through the use of a completely new combustion process developed using the familiar Miller cycle as its basis, and will be notable for its ability to deliver optimal response across the entire engine speed range. All A4s come with a three year 60,000 mile warranty which can be extended to four years/75,000 miles or five years/90,000 miles for a fee. Audi residuals are some of the best in the business, assuming you pick a desirable engine and trim combination. Some restraint on the all too tempting options list will help too.
Audi has spent nearly a quarter of a century perfecting its A4 - and that really shows in this fifth generation model. It's a spacious, classy car that's very composed to drive and is fully conversant with the kind of hi-tech design and faultless cabin quality that its target junior executive market likes to expect. So it stacks up in the showroom just as well as it does on the balance sheet, with running cost returns that with most engines will make it your company accountant's go-to choice. Even more than before, this A4 feels like a car that's been lovingly and very carefully considered. The depth of engineering and the thought that's gone into the tiniest details combine to further enhance the warm fuzzy feeling that's charmed Audi customers for years. If you're one of those people, then you'll like this car very much. And even if you're not, you'll find it hard not to be impressed by way it systematically ticks almost every box on the compact executive market wish list. It's very thorough. And very Audi.
By Jonathan Crouch
Back in 2012, Audi's A4 needed to up its game in the face of tough competition from BMW's 3 Series and Mercedes' C-Class in the image-conscious compact executive sector. It did. By that point, this car had been on sale for four years but the changes made to the much improved version we look at here fully rejuvenated its appeal. In terms of quality, running costs and hi-tech appeal, it's a car that's hard to overlook if you're in the market for a used compact executive saloon or estate from this period.
4dr saloons, 5dr Avant estates (1.8, 2.0, 3.0 petrol 2.0, 3.0 diesel [SE, S line, S4])
Audi knows a thing or two about mid-sized family cars with a prestigious feel, compact executive models like this fourth generation A4, launched in 2008 and codenamed 'B8' in Audi-speak. It was a car significantly bigger and more sophisticated than any the brand had previously had in this segment and a big success. By late 2011 though, Audi could see that rivals had this model's measure, with a substantially improved Mercedes C-Class on sale and a frighteningly good all-new sixth generation BMW 3 Series just about to hit the showrooms. That explained the need for the heavily revised A4 we're looking at here as a used buy, a car launched in the early Spring of 2012. With this model, we still had the basic 2008 design, but the development team had taken it and improved just about everything possible without creating an all-new car. Hence the arrival of an A4 that was smarter, better-equipped, safer, better to drive and more-fuel efficient. An A4 fully ready to square up against the best its rivals had to give. An A4 with an even bigger dose of vorsprung durch teknic. It lasted until the arrival of the fifth generation version n the Autumn of 2015.
Aesthetic excess isn't a very Audi trait and it's certainly not much in evidence here. There were no sheet metal changes made in the 2012 facelift: just mild cosmetic updates to a front end that now featured a set of wedgy A6-style headlamps positioned either side of a smarter single-frame grille and above a re-styled bumper and revised air intakes. Move past what'll likely be a smarter set of alloy wheels to the rear and you'll find revised taillights with optional LED brilliance that sit above a sleeker bumper and re-styled rear diffuser. But, as ever, it's the cabin that'll really sell this car, as beautifully finished as ever, everything clear and elegant. With this improved MK4 model, there are revised steering wheel designs, beefier column stalks, clearer white-illuminated instrumentation displays, neat chrome detailing, updated buttons and smarter upholstery. The MMI infotainment system that most new buyers paid extra for was also easier to use, with fewer buttons and more logical menus (you could at last put a 7-digit postcode into the sat nav). Through it, A4 buyers could access a whole raft of online options, everything from Google Earth mapping to in-car internet access. In the rear, as ever with this class of car, it's comfortable for two, but something of a squash for three adults, with the unfortunate occupant in the middle having to splay his or her legs either side of a large transmission tunnel, despite the fact that this car is front wheel drive. It'll be fine for three children though. Out back, there's a 490-litre boot that's bigger than that of a BMW 3 Series or a Mercedes C-Class from this era. Split-folding rear seats extend it, in the case of the saloon, to 962-litres. Of course, if you are going to be carry bulkier stuff on a regular basis, you'll want to consider the Avant estate bodystyle, which offers a 490-litre boot extendable to as much as 1430-litres if you flatten the rear bench.
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Reliability isn't generally an issue for the A4. Many models will have done high mileages in the hands of overworked sales reps but that shouldn't necessarily put you off. Look for a fully stamped-up service history and keep an eye out for uneven tyre wear on the more powerful models. The most common problem with A4s occurs in some area of the electrical components; e.g., the brake lights stay on, the trip display burns out in a few spots, or the power window motor might burn out. These repairs are not very expensive, although having to replace a bad circuit for the taillights would be pricey. We'd steer clear of an A4 with trip display problems too, because replacing that screen is expensive. In the highly unlikely event that some sort of engine problem presents itself, it would be expensive to repair because of the quality of the parts. On an older very high mileage car, you should have the timing belt replaced if it hasn't been already; should it not be replaced and it breaks, you expect a hefty bill and the engine compartment would be in bad shape if this were to happen. Have the brakes checked as well; the car in question might need new pads/rotors.
(approx based on a 2012 A4 1.8 TFSI) A clutch assembly kit will be around £250 and an exhaust system (without catalyst) will be about £300. An alternator should be close to £150 and a radiator around £170. Front brake pads are around £75, rear brake pads will be £50.
Get behind the wheel and even blindfolded, you could probably guess you were in an Audi. The great driving position, the smell of quality, the way all the controls are so beautifully damped: all are Ingolstadt giveaways. But when this modern generation A4 was first introduced in 2008, the company knew it had to go further. Class leadership would require a conscious effort to reward owners as much out on the road as in the driveway. The engineers acknowledged that this car's front-driven layout might never reward an enthusiast in quite the same way as a rival rear-driven BMW 3 series. But they were convinced that it could be made to feel almost as good. To prove the point, they took a completely clean-sheet approach in creating the original version of this car, developing an entirely new MDS platform that saw the engine moved way back from its usual position just in front of the front axle to a point behind it. Since the engine is the heaviest part of any car, that change was pretty significant, distributing this Audi's mass more uniformally across both axles. That improved handling response, while the longer wheelbase necessary to facilitate the change enhanced the ride quality. Of course, whatever you do, you can't change the laws of physics. A BMW 3 Series still feels more responsive if you're out to rival Lewis Hamilton on your favourite backroad. But the differences to this post-2012 MK4 model A4 aren't great and the suppler ride you get with this Audi (providing you don't choose a car with huge wheels and stiff suspension) will be preferable for many. Some original buyers tried to improve things further by specifying a 'chassis with damper control' set-up, allowing them to match the ride to road and mood. Others tried to make this even more of a driver's car by specifying their A4 with the option of quattro four-wheel drive, something that our wintry climate made tempting. Normally, this system distributes the engine's power primarily to the rear but if necessary, can redistribute torque towards the front at lightning speed. Opt for a car fitted with the Sport differential that was available on the top 3.0 TDI and S4 models and torque can even be distributed from side to side at the rear, firing you from corner to corner. So far so good. What let the side down a bit though on the original version of this car was the steering and as a result, this revised version got an all-new hi-tech electromechanical set-up which was supposed to enhance driver feedback, though that's still not this car's strongest suit. Some original buyers tried to improve things by paying extra for 'dynamic steering'. Others ignored this but did choose to pay the extra for Audi's optional 'Drive Select' system which makes a big difference to the driving experience. It alters steering feel along with engine management, throttle response, the change parameters of the auto gearbox response - even the air conditioning - in line with your choice of 'comfort', 'auto', 'dynamic' or even 'efficiency' modes. It'll also tweak the ride in tune with your chosen setting if you paid for the 'chassis with damper control' set-up. Under the bonnet, if you're an enthusiastic driver, less is probably more. With less weight to carry around, lower-order 2WD petrol and diesel models feel more agile and more responsive than their pokier 3.0-litre stablemates and we prefer the 6-speed manual transmission to the auto-only set-up you're limited to on pricier models. In the TFSI petrol line-up, it's best to ignore the entry-level 120PS 1.8-litre unit and begin your search with the engine Audi spent most time on in this revised range, the 170PS 1.8 TFSI. Here lighter, more efficient, pokier and torquier, it powers this car to sixty in 8.1s on the way to 143mph. Beyond that, there's the venerable 211PS 2.0-litre unit from the Golf GTI, this offered with two or four wheel drive. For us, a 2.0 TFSI A4 capable of sixty in just 6.9s on the way to 149mph is pretty much the perfect package. The 2.0-litre TDI diesels also offer plenty of performance: lower-powered 136 and 143PS versions make sixty in around 9s on the way to around 130mph. Pokier variants with 163PS or 177PS, manage the sixty sprint in about 8s on the way to around 140mph. That only leaves the 3.0-litre models, two of them diesel-powered. 3.0 TDI buyers choose between a 204PS variant with two wheel drive and 8-speed Multitronic auto transmission, a surprisingly efficient package. Or a tempting 245PS 3.0 TDI quattro model with 7-speed s tronic auto transmission - a car that's really very quick indeed, sixty from rest occupying just 6.1s on the way to an artificially limited 155mph maximum. Or at least you'll think it is until you try the flagship S4 quattro model, powered by a 333PS supercharged 3.0TFSI six cylinder petrol unit as quick as any V8. Here, sixty is just 5.0s away from rest.
There are plenty of reasons behind the MK4 model A4's success. It's a spacious, classy car that's very composed to drive and is fully conversant with the kind of hi-tech design and faultless cabin quality that its target junior executive market likes to expect. As a result it always stacked up in the showroom just as well as it did on the balance sheet, with running cost returns that with most engines made it a company accountant's go-to choice. These virtues didn't change in this fully revised post-2012 facelifted version. But they were embellished, with the result that even more than before, this A4 feels like a car that's been lovingly and very carefully considered. The depth of engineering and the thought that's gone into the tiniest details make it a sound used buy and combine to further enhance the warm fuzzy feeling that's charmed Audi customers for years. If you're one of those people, then you'll like this car very much. And even if you're not, you'll find it hard not to be impressed by way it systematically ticks almost every box on the compact executive market wish list. It's very thorough. And very Audi.
For a first-line family car, many men will be tempted by the fifth generation Audi A4, with its business-like good looks, tweaked chassis and more efficient engines. But will the lady of the house be equally pleased with his choice? June Neary reports.
My other half has been driving an Audi A4 saloon as a company car for about five years now and is delighted with it. He's been dying to try the latest model but to his dismay, he was at work when I brought one home. To my surprise, I loved it. I found the old A4 impressive but slightly anonymous and not that memorable to drive. The handling in particular has never been as involving as I've experienced with some rivals. Once on the motorway, to be fair, the car has been great, simply eating up the motorway miles. The MK5 model A4 is different altogether, as far as I'm concerned. It's still great on the motorway but it's also a car I've found myself really enjoying on some of my favourite B roads. On top of that, the revised chassis is responsive and the car could turn on a sixpence. It has the same spacious boot as the old model, I'm glad to say, but the interior has been given a welcome facelift. The cool white 2.0-litre turbo diesel-engined car I was driving had a tasteful aluminium interior trim, lightening the unimaginative black of my partner's old A4. If, like me, you don't choose the family's 'main' car, you probably get to drive it only once in a blue moon. This means, of course, that you never get to know it and love it the way he does. If my partner brought home this A4, I'm sure I would be finding excuses to borrow it - and often.
The A4 with its classy new lines - what the marketing men called "sexy, younger and fresh" - is gorgeous. It still looks like an Audi, of course, so our menfolk will lose nothing in status, dare I say. It will double up as a business and family car, and is, therefore, in my view eminently practical. It's roomy, too, with plenty of space in the back and a big 480-litre boot. Personally, I've never found fault with the roominess of the A4 and this one is equally comfortable, with plenty of space for three adults in the back. The boot is capacious, but as in any saloon, it can be awkward to load because of the long, low shape of it. I can live with that, as in our house, loading the boot is the man's preserve! Anyway, there's also an Avant estate version if you want it.
The brochures tell me the latest lighter MK5 model A4 is "faster, more frugal and better specified" and I wouldn't disagree. All the 'luxury' extras were in evidence in the 2.0 litre TDI 190PS S line model I tried, including a clever Audi smartphone interface that allowed me to use the Apple Car Play system that mirrors the working of your smartphone onto the central dash MMI infotainment screen. I felt very comfortable behind the wheel. It helped a lot that the driving position is further improved. Where the A4 knocks the BMW into next week is in interior design and perception of quality. Put simply, the A4 has moved the game on a good few notches. The old A4 was held as the class best in terms of build integrity and ergonomics but some felt that from a design perspective, the acres of black plastics were starting to look a little too nineties. The latest model rectifies this, taking many of the design cues from the A8, including more imaginative use of contrasting coloured trims, metal brightwork and electronic functionality. I'd certainly say that the latest model rides a good deal more fluently than before with less constant pitter-patter from the road surface transmitting itself into the cabin. However, it still suffers from some bump and thump over larger irregularities and driven back to back with a BMW 3 Series, it has to be said that the latest A4 still doesn't match its Bavarian rival when it comes to ultimately rewarding handling. In terms of refinement and comfort though, I'd say the Audi is ahead, especially if you opt for one of the optional adaptive suspension systems that allow you to set the ride up to suit the road you're on.
As you'd expect, this A4 is priced closely against its three key rivals, the BMW 3 Series, the Mercedes C-Class and the Jaguar XE, which means asking figures broadly focused in the £25,000 to £40,000 bracket. There's a £1,400 premium to go from this saloon bodystyle to the more versatile Avant estate and on virtually all derivatives, there's the option of finding just over £1,500 more to specify seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission in preference to the usual six-speed manual gearbox. If you're looking at a petrol model, I'd recommend you seriously consider finding the £1,800 premium necessary to progress from the entry-level 150PS 1.4-litre TFSI variant to a 190PS 2.0 TFSI derivative that gives you much more pulling power but almost identical levels of efficiency. If you're happy with this 2.0-litre unit and want it mated to S tronic auto transmission, you could also opt to pay the substantial premium of just over £5,000 that's necessary to get it with a heftier 252PS power output and quattro 4WD. Most A4 buyers though, are going to want a diesel like the one I tried. There's a premium of over £3,000 to get 150PS in your A4 with diesel rather than petrol power, but if you do go for the '2.0 TDI 150PS ultra' variant that most buyers choose, you'll get more than 30% more pulling power and fuel consumption that's nearly 50% better. The attraction's obvious.
If he's happy, I'm happy and I'm in no doubt that my other half would not hesitate to bring home the latest Audi A4. For once, I wouldn't be moaning on about it being anonymous and boring to drive. As long as he doesn't get into the notion of replacing everything in his life with "sexy, younger, fresher" models, I'll be happy, too.