The Audi A4 is an improvement over the previous version, but isn't good enough to topple the BMW 3-series
What is it?
Likely to be the biggest-selling version of Audi’s roomy new A4 Avant, complete with Volkswagen’s new fuel-sipping 2.0-litre common-rail diesel engine.
Audi pioneered the use of constantly variable CVT transmissions with diesel engines, and it’s kept the faith with the continued option of Multitronic on the new car. This offers both a constantly variable mode, where the transmission alters its working ratio seamlessly, and an eight-speed over-ride of stepped ‘gears’ accessed by a pull-push gearshift channel.What’s it like?
The basic TDI Avant’s sporting pretentions are limited, and the efforts of the 143bhp four-cylinder diesel engine are unlikely to set the world alight. Payback arrives at the filling station, with Audi claiming an impressive 49mpg combined for the 2.0 TDI Multitronic –we achieved 44mpg on a real-world inner-city run.
The A4’s practicality belies its status as Audi’s entry-level estate. It’s a big, spacious car – indeed its footprint is close to that of the previous-generation A6. The flipside is a chunky 1900kg kerbweight, a mass that blunts the performance figures.
It would be unfair to say that the TDI Multitronic is a completely numb performer. The 0-62mph sprint is dispatched in an acceptable 9.7 seconds and 236lb ft of peak torque makes it easy to access what thrust there is.
The gearbox works cleanly and invisibly – most people will be unaware it contains two variable diameter wheels rather than a full set of planetary gears. The Tiptronic function gives a good impression of having proper gears to play with, but we still reckon the vast majority of buyers will opt to keep the A4 in ‘Drive’ most of the time.
Should I buy one?
The 2.0-litre TDI is the best all-rounder in the A4 Avant line-up, and it offers a good compromise between performance and running costs. That said, pricey options and high list prices mean that, like the rest of this generation of A4, it struggles to feel special enough.