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Audi A4 Saloon Review

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Overall

For

No rival comes close to the A4 for interior quality or cruising refinement. Stick with comfort suspension and it also rides very well. The Ultra versions are particularly competitive on CO2 emissions.

Against

Models with non-adaptive sports suspension have a firm ride and no A4 is as much fun to drive as a BMW 3 Series or a Jaguar XE.

Summary

Our 2016 Car of the Year is the best compact executive on the market. You won’t be disappointed whichever version you choose but we reckon the 3.0 TDI 218 has the most going for it.

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Performance

The A4 range kicks off with a 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel that offers acceptable performance. The 188bhp of the same engine is worth the extra, though, especially since it emits barely any more CO2. However, our favourite engine is the 3.0 TDI 218 – it’s seriously strong and makes the range-topping 3.0 TDI 272 seem somewhat unnecessary.

Ride & Handling

The A4 is available with no fewer than four different suspension set-ups. All Ultra models come with passive sports suspension and this brings a slightly firm low-speed ride, which is why we’d recommend choosing a version with the softer comfort suspension. All versions handle securely with plenty of grip and precise steering, but none is as fun to drive as a BMW 3 Series or a Jaguar XE.

Refinement

All engines are remarkably smooth and quiet but the 3.0 V6 diesels are as hushed as the engines in many luxury limos. The A4 suppresses road and wind noise better than its key rivals, too. The S Tronic automatic gearbox can be a tad jerky at very low speeds but shifts smoothly in most other situations.

Buying & Owning

The 2.0 TDI 150 is the only A4 to dip under the 100g/km CO2 mark – and even then only if you stick with a manual gearbox. However, the more powerful models emit only a few grams more and even our favourite 3.0 TDI 218 pumps out less than 110g/km. The A4 costs about the same to buy as a BMW 3 Series but is predicted to hold onto its value for slightly longer.

Quality & Reliability

No rival can hold a candle to the A4 when it comes to interior quality. Every surface you come into regular contact with is finished with high-quality materials and the fit is exceptional. This generation of A4 is too new to have featured in any reliability surveys, but Audi as a whole doesn’t usually impress in this regard – it finished 34th out of 37 brands in our most recent survey.

Safety & Security

The A4 was awarded five stars for crash protection by safety body Euro NCAP and all versions come with city emergency braking as standard – a clever system that can automatically apply the brakes at low speeds to prevent you running into the car in front. Tyre pressure monitoring is also standard across the range and Thatcham awarded impressive scores for the A4’s resistance to being stolen or broken into.

Behind The Wheel

You won’t have many issues getting comfortable thanks to a generous range of seat and steering wheel adjustment. However, we’d recommend you add adjustable lumbar support to help keep your posture good on long journeys and avoid potential back problems. The A4’s dashboard is simple and easy to get the hang of and while rearward visibility isn’t perfect, all versions come with rear parking sensors as standard.

Space & Practicality

The A4 offers roughly the same interior space as a BMW 3 Series, which means it’s considerably more capacious – particularly in the back – than a Jaguar XE. Boot space is par for the course in this class but the A4 does comes with split-folding rear seats as standard – you have to pay extra for this handy feature in the majority of rivals.

Equipment

All A4s come with climate control, xenon headlights, cruise control, rear parking sensors, keyless start and a DAB radio. However, we’d recommend going for Sport trim because this gets you all-important sat-nav and a pair of more supportive sports seats in the front. Range-topping S line trims brings mostly styling upgrades but you still have to pay extra for full-leather seats.