From £26,2658
Performance diesel variant of Audi's fifth-generation A4 is effortlessly fast, while also proving comfortable and spacious

Our Verdict

Aud A4

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

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Darren Moss
7 October 2015

What is it?

We've been generally impressed with the fifth-generation Audi A4 thus far. Although tweaks to its styling may only be minor, the improvements Audi has carried out to the car's interior and engine range have been enough to keep it competitive against rivals from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and now Jaguar, too.

This is the first time we've had the chance to drive the range-topping 3.0 TDI. With 268bhp and 442lb ft of torque, the A4 beats BMW's 330d xDrive, which comes with 258bhp and 413lb ft, while also coming in some way above Jaguar's range-topping diesel XE, which gets 178bhp.

The engine in the A4 is a tweaked version of the one that appeared in the previous generation model, with improvements to power (up 11%), emissions and fuel economy. CO2 has fallen by 21% to 137g/km while combined MPG has risen to 54.3mpg (when the car is riding on 19in alloy wheels).

The S line version reviewed here comes with plenty of standard equipment including LED headlights featuring Audi's dynamic indicators, leather-trimmed sports seats, an S line bodykit, a bespoke steering wheel and sports suspension, which lowers the car's ride height by 20mm. 

What's it like?

If we had our pick of the new A4 range, we'd choose this version. The 3.0-litre TDI is effortlessly fast and despite not matching its rivals on pure power, makes up for this with grunt. All 442lb ft of torque is available from just 1500rpm, resulting in fierce acceleration from low revs.

Power is managed brilliantly by Audi's 8-speed automatic transmission, which provides smooth and fast changes. It's so good, in fact, that you'd rarely be tempted to take manual control with the steering wheel-mounted paddles but be assured that if you do, the experience is suitably engaging.

What's equally impressive is the A4's interior. As we've found with other models in the range, Audi has worked wonders in lifting the fit, finish and perceived quality of its mass-market saloon.

A particular highlight is the redesigned gearlever which now takes on a chunkier, more tactile form. Also worthy of a special mention is the virtual cockpit - a £450 option - which already features in the TT and Q7.

Indeed it works as well here as it does in those models, bringing a variety of infotainment and navigation data to the driver's field of vision in an easy-to-use format. Coupled with the larger central infotainment screen and features such as adaptive cruise control and Audi's traffic jam assist system, the A4 is a technical tour de force.

There is a downside to the car, and that's its steering. As with all A4s, the 3.0 TDI comes with Audi's drive select system. It offers five damper, throttle response and steering weight modes.

While there's some difference to be found between them - the most noticeable being Dynamic - the steering still feels wooden and devoid of feeling. The Jaguar XE has the upper hand, here, since it feels more engaging and dynamically capable. We did make use of Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system, too, which aids acceleration and adds security when conditions are less than ideal.

Despite its lowered ride height, this A4 still feels comfortable. Make no mistake, the low-speed ride is on the firm side but in corners there is little or no body roll. Meanwhile, on the motorway, the A4 is composed and absorbs imperfections well. Our car's £450 optional acoustic front window glazing also makes sure that virtually no wind or road noise makes its way to the cabin.

The sports seats are very comfortable, while the extra 23mm of rear leg room in this latest A4 is really noticeable. Three adults will feel a little cramped on the back seat but two six-footers will be perfectly comfortable.

Should I buy one?

Chances are that if you're looking at running an A4 as a company car, you'll be swayed towards the 2.0-litre TDI lower down the range. That, too, is a compelling choice, but this 3.0-litre TDI is where the A4's excellence lies. It's sharp, refined and, despite not being overly engaging to drive, remains appealing to drivers as well as passengers.

At £38,135 it's on the expensive side for a compact executive car (remember that the larger A6 can be had in 3.0 TDI quattro S-line form for £40,960) but if you're after an engaging A4, this is the one to choose.

Audi A4 3.0 TDI quattro 272 S line

Price £38,135; Engine V6, 2967cc, diesel; Power 268bhp at 3250-4250rpm; Torque 442lb ft at 1500-3000rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1735kg; 0-62mph 5.3sec; Top speed 155mph; Economy 54.3mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 137g/km, 22% 

Join the debate

Comments
23

7 October 2015
That's what the Volkswagen Group is great in.

7 October 2015
Yawn voyager12....

7 October 2015
Yawn voyager12....

7 October 2015
137g/km? Can we be sure? Probably not as it is a VW product. The emissions scandal has been useful not just for exposing the dishonesty of VW but also for confirming once and for all that Audis are just gussied up Volkswagens. Also "performance diesel" an oxymoron to rival "military intelligence"!

9 October 2015
spqr wrote:

137g/km? Can we be sure? Probably not as it is a VW product. The emissions scandal....

The emissions scandal relates to NOx, not CO2. You're not alone, the mainstream media likes to confuse the two as well.


12 October 2015
I m no Audi fan, but the A4, A6 and A8 are entirely bespoke cars using platforms not used on any VW, so this car is very definitely NOT a "gussied up" Volkswagen. As for "performance diesel" being an oxymoron, I think you must be living in the 90s or something - a "performance" car is one that is fast, a diesel car is one that is powered by diesel, there are many fast diesels around (this one gets to 60 in 5.3 secs for instance, pretty fast by most people's standards). You may not like diesels and thats fair enough, but the fact is there are many fast diesels on sale, meaning that "performance diesel" is very definitely NOT an oxymoron.

12 October 2015
I m no Audi fan, but the A4, A6 and A8 are entirely bespoke cars using platforms not used on any VW, so this car is very definitely NOT a "gussied up" Volkswagen. As for "performance diesel" being an oxymoron, I think you must be living in the 90s or something - a "performance" car is one that is fast, a diesel car is one that is powered by diesel, there are many fast diesels around (this one gets to 60 in 5.3 secs for instance, pretty fast by most people's standards). You may not like diesels and thats fair enough, but the fact is there are many fast diesels on sale, meaning that "performance diesel" is very definitely NOT an oxymoron.

7 October 2015
Car critics just can't stop it with the oil burners, can they? Diesels sound like vans (sorry, but whether it's a 3 cylinder or a V8 it still sounds like a Transit on a cold morning), they put out more harmful emissions than petrol cars (despite the lower CO2 levels), and those emissions only get worse a few years down the line when most owners have neglected their DPFs. London, Paris and other cities are already making plans to try to put the toothpaste back into the tube with this vile form of propulsion, so can we please stop praising it so much?

I'm no environmentalist, give me a car over a bike any day, but every time I read or watch a car review I see the same old tired "diesel better than petrol" line, and it's high time it came to an end.

12 October 2015
Jesus, someone else living in the 90s - there are plenty of diesels around that dont sound like Transits on a cold morning and theyre not necessarily dirtier than petrols - diesels might have higher NOx and particulate levels, but petrols have higher benzene, CO (a poison) and CO2 levels, it aint as simple as you (and Boris Johnson et al) paint it. The world would grind to a halt without the diesel engine - how would ships, trains and trucks get around without it - you think any of those could run on petrol without the price of everything going sky high and deliveries taking 3 times longer cos of the constant need to refuel (and that wouldnt even work with a ship, unless you know of a petrol station in the middle of the Atlantic) ? I ve never once heard the "diesel is better than petrol" line youre tired of hearing, certainly not on Autocar. If you dont like diesel, then get a petrol, people who like diesel can get one, then everyones happy.

7 October 2015
I wonder why they don't use a DSG box here. Could it be because DSG sucks?

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