Currently reading: Audi A4 long-term test review: first report
We’re bucking trends by swapping our 2.0-litre four-pot Audi for a 3.0-litre V6

Less is more, we’re told. And while it’s a hackneyed phrase, there’s no denying that when it comes to cars, tax pressures have led to the smallest engines selling in by far the biggest numbers.

Take executive saloons. Not long ago six-cylinder models accounted for a sizeable share of sales, whereas today most have been swept from the road by a torrent of 2.0-litre fours. The latest addition to our long-term fleet, however, seems to have been designed to reverse that trend.

The car in question is the red Audi A4 that you see above, and although it looks an awful lot like the white 2.0 TDI 190 that Andrew Frankel has been running for the past six months, it’s powered by a 3.0-litre V6 diesel that makes 215bhp and 295lb ft.

Audi a4 lter 502

It’s faster than Andrew’s car, then, and, thanks to two extra cylinders, a hell of a lot smoother. Yet the price difference is less than £2000, it’s only fractionally less efficient (at least officially) and the two sit in the same company car tax band.

If you’re worried that this renaissance of the big-capacity engine has been accompanied by a return to the days when prestige German cars were stingily equipped, don’t be. Our new A4 is in mid-level Sport spec, which comes with climate control, xenon headlights, cruise control, rear parking sensors, keyless start, DAB radio and sat-nav.

That said, it’s quite easy to blow a five-figure sum on options; on our car these include the advisable (such as its S tronic dual-clutch automatic gearbox), the desirable (leather and Alcantara upholstery and Audi’s Virtual Cockpit display) and the ‘I can’t believe these are part of the same pack’ (lumbar adjustment and a Bang & Olufsen stereo upgrade).

Best of all, though, is the Technology Pack, which brings an 8.3in display along with highresolution Google Maps navigation, on-board audio storage, more system controls on the steering wheel and a ‘phone box’ that allows wireless charging of your smartphone.


Read our review

Car review

The Audi A4 zeroes in on efficiency, technology and quality - but is it enough to drive compact saloon buyers away from the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class?

Back to top

Audi a4 lter 503

Prior to the A4, I ran a Jaguar XE for a year. And while early impressions of the Audi suggest that in many respects it’s the better car, there is one key area where it’s off the pace, and that’s driving fun.

Put simply, it doesn’t flow from corner to corner in the oh-sosatisfying way that the XE does, mainly because of the steering. You find yourself sawing away at the A4’s wheel when you turn in, trying to find exactly how much lock is needed, whereas the Jag offers much greater involvement and precision.

I find this strange. After all, the Audi R8 and the latest Audi TT show that Audi can produce a proper driver’s car when it wants to, and yet it has chosen not to in this instance, despite its obvious desire to be seen as a sporty brand.

More positively, the A4’s V6 has an even bigger refinement and performance advantage over the XE’s Ingenium diesel than it does over Audi’s own 2.0 TDI. Plus, the A4 has a more comfortable ride, a classier cabin and an infotainment system that’s at least a couple of generations ahead, both in the speed of its responses and the layout of its menus.

Over the next few months we’ll see whether the one big sacrifice is worth all the positives. And of course, whether the 3.0 TDI really can get close to the economy of the 2.0, or if more cylinders still mean fewer miles to the gallon in the real world.

Steve Huntingford

Join the debate

Add a comment…
calicocat 28 September 2016

It's all about everyday driveablity

This is a fabulous engine with easy power from very low revs with probably better economy than a 2.0 Tdi.

The only option I would recommend is the adaptive comfort suspension that makes it ride better than any Audi I have ever driven, and I have had three A4s all of different vintages.

reckless fox 27 September 2016

Lovely engine

I had that engine in an A7 and it didn't want for usable performance at all although, unlike all Autocar journalists, I didn't see any need to take my car onto a circuit, where it might have felt underpowered.
Will86 27 September 2016

Low stressed engine

I'd much rather have a detuned V6 TDI than a highly strung 4 cylinder BiTDI. Plus, whilst a 6 cylinder diesel can produce more power, over 200ps and 295lb/ft isn't going to leave you wanting. And though that torque figure could be higher, I suspect it comes in very early in the rev range and is maintained over a large window so it'll be nice to drive. Surprised at the lack of V6 badging on the red A4, bit of a sleeper.