The Audi A4, tested here in 3.0L TDi with quattro AWD, isn’t terribly exciting to look at despite being in sporty S-Line trim. The A4 never has been.
The car is smart certainly and has a kind of angular elegance to it but I have to assume that the German brand know their market and refuse to let the more feverish imaginings of their designers get in the way of big sales.
In any event it sits well at the kerb – and once you climb into the superb Audi interior you stop thinking about the outside. Inside, it feels low and sleek and it’s easy to assume the position behind the multi-function steering wheel thanks to plenty of adjustment on the seat and steering column.
Savour the feel of quality in the cabin. Everything fits tightly and works properly. The infotainment and navigation systems all perform well and easily and Audi’s ‘Virtual Cockpit’ dash is outstanding.
Technically the Audi A4 is brilliant. The S-line trim level adds masses of kit that I don’t have room to list here. Highlights include acoustic glass that goes a long way to eliminating wind noise and the like; there’s a tech pack, the ‘Light and Vision’ pack which adds the virtual cockpit dials and the adaptive matrix LED headlights plus great Bang & Olufsen 3D sounds.
As usual, the A4 features Audi’s ‘Drive Select’ system, by which it is possible to adjust the reaction of dampers, steering and throttle and it is tempting to put everything into dynamic mode and leave it there. In the tested S-Line trim the smooth Audi A4 has its ride height lowered by 20mm and that translates into minimal body roll and a very composed drive. Yes, the ride is firm yet remains comfortable in the roomy interior. The whole ambience feels solid and very refined and the sports seats are superb. Back seat passengers benefit from an extra 23mm of leg room over the previous model.
With 268bhp and 442lb-ft of torque, the 3.0L TDI A4 beats similar offerings from both BMW and Jaguar. The engine in the A4 is a revised and improved version of the one that appeared in the previous iteration, with an 11% improvement in power with improvements also on emissions and fuel economy. CO² has fallen by 21% to 134g/km whilst the official combined miles for your gallon has risen to 55mpg.
The 3.0L TDi is effortlessly fast and the real treat is supplied by Audi’s eight-speed automatic transmission, which provides smooth, fast shifts. For total control the keen driver can reach for the paddles but really, with an auto ‘box this good, you need not bother with all that tiresome fingertip exercise.
This is the car for you if you have to travel the country on business. You can get the A4 with a fine two-litre motor but why would you? The 3.0L V6 purrs along in a relaxed and contented way – until you press with the right foot, then, with a snarl, it will take off up the road like a greyhound out of the traps.
For the sake of your accountant or bank manager’s continued well-being here’s some money facts: VED is £130, the insurance group is 36 and the BIK rate is 24%. This is at the time of writing but I have no idea what the EU or the Chancellor – who completely ignored my last personal suggestion – will do at any given moment, but as it stands that is not too much of a hit for so much car. The catch? In tested specification this terrific car costs the thick end of £50k. Alas, you can’t have it all ways.