WHAT IS IT?
A complete refresh of Audi’s best- selling B-segment contender. With the brand flying high (operating profits soared 60 per cent to 5.3bn euros in 2011), the German marque is oozing confidence and offers potential purchasers a staggering 110 variants from which to choose (rising to 111 when the iconic RS4 makes a return later this year). Efficiency is very much the watchword with C02 emissions reduced by up to 21 per cent.
WHAT’S UNDER THE BONNET?
Three petrol and six diesel engines, all turbocharged and featuring stop/start technology. The petrol range includes a powerful 1.8 TFSI lump which has been completely redesigned to include ground-breaking innovations in many areas including control of the valves and their lift, fuel injection and turbo-charging. But most of the engine changes are reserved for the TDI contingent, which includes units featuring four or six cylinders.
WHAT’S THE SPEC LIKE?
Good – it’s not too hard to see why more than five million A4s have been sold since 1995. Standard equipment includes three-zone climate control, cruise control, Bluetooth interface and light and rain sensors. Unique-in- class multitronic CVT transmission is optional on most front-wheel-drive versions and a seven-speed S tronic twin-clutch automatic optional on quattro versions. There’s a host of other hi-tech gadgets and gizmos too.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
Enjoyable in many ways but perhaps just a little unforgiving on the bumpy roads of the UK after they’ve been ravaged by three months of frost and council grit. There’s no question we felt safe and sound inside and there’s no mistaking the high build quality. The driver information system will help buyers save energy as of course will Audi’s start-stop system. And there’s no shortage of choice when selecting a model from the range!
WHAT DO THE PRESS THINK OF IT?
WhatCar.co.uk said: ‘The A4 is significantly cheaper than the BMW 3 Series. However, the BMW is quicker, cleaner and much more enjoyable to drive.’ AutoExpress said: ‘Our biggest complaint concerns ride comfort. To help the A4 TDIe cut through the air more efficiently, Audi has fitted it with some familiar sports suspension, which lowers the car by 20mm. The firm set-up isn’t very good at taking the sting out of ruts and bumps, especially at low speeds.’
WHAT DO WE THINK OF IT?
It’s hard not to be impressed by what Audi has achieved in recent years. As the company says, it has gone from being a ‘challenger brand’ to one of the big three German high-end marques. However, the A4 couldn’t really be called an exciting car to drive. Competent, assured, superbly- engineered, of course. But does it set the pulse racing? Not really.