Watch my video review or scroll down to read a review.
If there has ever been a reason to dress a little smarter and to make a bit more effort with my appearance when leaving the house, it’s when there’s an executive car sitting on my driveway to test.
So naturally I put my best foot forward for the Audi A4. This is such a classy and sophisticated car, and while the default opinion seems to be to criticise Audi every time they release a new car that looks pretty much the same as its predecessor, it’s impossible not to look approvingly at the new A4. The surfaces are so perfectly formed, every crease and line is cut like an expensive tailored suit. It’s strong, Germanic and unmistakably Audi. That’s what the people want.
Things only get better when you sit inside. The A4 has a brand new interior that’s very fitting of an executive car. It is beautifully light and simple, but so intelligent and artistic in its design. There are a mixture of surfaces and materials, and all are really quality and feel great to touch. Infotainment is provided via the MMI system that can be operated using steering wheel mounted controls, a rotary dial on the centre console, conveniently placed shortcut buttons or by voice. You can upgrade to the Audi Smartphone Interface (€426) for access to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to allow smartphone contents such as navigation, telephone, music and selected third-party apps to be accessed and viewed through the car’s infotainment system.
The new A4 is built on a new platform with lightweight construction, and weight saving and efficiency were engineering priorities during development, but a longer wheelbase also makes the A4 a bit more spacious inside. The boot is a competitive 480 litres but because it’s a saloon, access to the deep recesses is a bit restricted! The Avant estate has a more cargo friendly aperture and 505 litres of space.
A 1.4-litre turbo petrol with 150bhp is the entry point into the A4 range and there’s also a 2.0-litre petrol with 190bhp. The 2.0-litre diesel comes in two power outputs (150 or 190bhp) and there are two range topping 3.0-litre V6 diesels (218 and 272bhp) for purists. There are manual and automatic transmissions, and of course the option of quattro all-wheel-drive. The A4 has the best drag coefficient in its class at 0.23 and small design tweaks like moving the position of the side mirrors mean that the A4 can slice through the air for maximum efficiency.
My test car had the entry level diesel (2.0-litre with 150bhp) and it’s got enough power to keep your average driver happy. Emissions vary depend on wheel size across the different trim levels, but my S Line model on optional 19” alloys still falls into tax band A with motor tax of €200, and in official tests returns up to 70mpg.
But what’s it like to drive? Audi has shaved up to 120kg off the A4’s weight and on the road for a big car it feels remarkably light. In terms of steering and handling it’s precise and predictable; you turn into a corner and it grips. But there’s still a bit of magic missing to fully engage the driver. The thing is you don’t need to be pushing this car all the time to enjoy it and a relaxed but confident pace leaves little to complain about.
Ride comfort has been much improved and the softness matches this car’s luxury feel. It’s also exceptionally quiet in the cabin and you can spec something called “acoustic glazing” for the windscreen (€214) if you want to really cocoon yourself from the outside world. My test car was fitted with it and travelling in the cabin was like being in your own studio.
There are three trim levels for the new A4: Attraction, SE and S Line. Standard spec on entry level Attraction models includes alloy wheels, keyless start, rear parking sensors, climate control and electric lumbar support but step up to SE for cruise control, twin leather upholstery and navigation. Top spec S-Line models have a lowered sports suspension and special S-Line styling. Pricing starts at €35,800 for the entry level 1.4-litre petrol in Attraction trim. SE models start at €37,750, while S Line models start at €41,250.
Head to the options list and you could transform your A4 into a technological tour de force very quickly but it all comes at a cost. Much has been made of Audi’s virtual cockpit, a 12.3 inch LCD screen that replaces traditional instrument dials in the driver’s line of sight. It’s exciting to look at but must be added as a cost option for €2500 as part of the Technology Pack.
Other technological highlights include optional Audi Matrix LED headlights, the Bang & Olufsen Sound System with 3D sound, the Audi phone box with wireless charging, the head-up display, and new driver assistance systems and Audi connect services. The Business Package adds driving aids like lane departure warning, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition for €2,100.
But options or no options, the Audi A4 will leave an impression. It might not look all that different from the outside, but Audi has made their A4 even more desirable than before with an artistic cabin that’s a reason to elevate this car above its rivals. The A4 is a dream to drive, with the quality, comfort and refinement that marks a true premium driving experience. The A4 is back and it’s ready for business.
Model Tested: Audi A4 saloon 2.0TDI 150 S Line
Price: €44,200 (Range starts at €35,800)
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel
0-100km/h: 8.9 seconds
CO2 Emissions: 106g/km
Motor Tax: €190 per year