There’s been an Audi A4 since 1994. We’re now on the fifth generation Audi saloon, which was launched in 2015 when it was billed as the most efficient, refined and high-tech one of all. No surprise there, but it takes nothing away from the fact that each generation of A4 has played its part in establishing the model as a serious player in the family saloon class.
Among the current A4’s many attractions are a level of build quality that on occasion eludes its rivals. It has a clean and unostentatious appearance that buyers find appealing. And rather than excelling in one or two areas, it’s satisfying across most.
It replaced the fourth-gen Audi A4 that ran from 2008-15. Their registration years aside, you may struggle to tell the two apart. Our tip is to look for the kick in the baseline of the later car’s headlights.
Fortunately, under the skin, the game had moved on rather more. For example, thanks to its new, aluminium-rich platform, the later model is 120kg lighter than its predecessor, despite being larger. It’s also better to drive, more luxurious and features more technology.
At launch and later in 2016 there was the usual fleet-friendly mix of punchy 2.0-litre Audi A4 diesels, one of them, the 148bhp Ultra, being capable of a then-claimed 74.3mpg. But there was also a 148bhp 1.4 TFSI petrol as well as a 187bhp 2.0 TFSI. All bar the 1.4 were available with optional seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic gearboxes. Today, on the used market, the numbers of manual and auto ’boxes are evenly split, but there are around 50% more diesel-powered A4s than there are petrols.
Higher up the range were quattro versions of a more powerful 2.0 TFSI making 249bhp, a 3.0 TDI V6 with 215bhp and another making 268bhp, this time with a Tiptronic gearbox.
Of all the versions, the humble 148bhp 1.4 TFSI represents real value for money, but don’t look for a 2019 car – last year it was dropped and replaced by a 148bhp 2.0 TSI. Meanwhile, there are lots of keenly priced 148bhp 2.0 TDI Ultras and not all of them at silly mileages. If you have a caravan or boat to tow, choose one of the powerful quattro diesels. In 2017 the 349bhp Audi S4 surfaced. The quattro system keeps it planted but a BMW 340i is a more engaging car.