What is it?
As much as hybrids and pure-electric cars are flavour of the moment, Audi plainly believes that there is a whole lot more efficiency to be squeezed out of the internal combustion engine. That point really was driven home at the launch of the eighth-generation Audi A4 range.
What’s it like?
Starting with the cosmetic changes, right across the Audi A4's model line-up there have been mild cosmetic tweaks to the nose and tail, with subtly modified bumpers and air intakes. The front and rear LED running lights also get a classier look, too. It’s not a major revamp though – there are no sheet metal changes to the range. LIkewise, the A4's interior gains a mild colour and trim tweak.
Mechanically, the most significant changes focus on the turbo-diesel engine lineup. There are six offerings, with an entry-level 134bhp four-cylinder rising up through the range to a 242bhp V6. And without any dramatic engineering solutions – efficiency has come so far in recent years that pretty much all gains will be incremental now – Audi has managed to make significant improvements.
The company reckons the 134bhp 2.0-litre TDI will be the most popular engine choice in the UK by a long stretch. The CO2 output has dropped significantly from 120g/km to 112g/km (although for the Avant that rises to 116g/km – still good). Combined fuel consumption is a remarkable 65.7mpg, which is better than Honda’s Insight hybrid, for example, and not a million miles off that green icon, the Toyota Prius.
But all this wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans if the driving experience is rubbish. It isn’t. Nicely judged shorter ratios in the lower gears means response is quite good at lower speeds, and mixing it with motorway traffic is also stress free. Audi makes claims for the TDI’s improved refinement, too, although this doesn’t feel like the most refined in its class.
Should I buy one?
The 134bhp TDI does feel happier to rev and a bit more refined than it’s more powerful 174bhp sibling. The extra bit of poke hardly seems worth it. Either way, though, these engines offer a strong argument for those who want to save the planet – and a few shekels – without going hybrid.