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Our Fleet Test Drive: Audi A4 - final report

Date: 03 May 2016   |   Author:

Equipment: 17in alloys, three-zone climate control, Bluetooth,
DAB radio, two USB ports, cruise control, keyless start, rear parking sensors, acoustic-glazed windscreen, electric boot release
Options: Technology pack (£2000), LED headlights and rear lights with dynamic rear indicators (£1050), Floret Silver metallic paint (£645), privacy glass package (£450), Parking System Plus (£395), LED interior pack (£325), Audi 10-speaker sound system (£275), smoking pack (£50)

Audi's new A4 arrived on the scene just as Jaguar was busy making a splash with its return to the compact executive saloon market with the XE and BMW had just refreshed the 3-series.

In a way typical of Audi and its Volkswagen parent company, the A4 was a more subtle entrance, gently evolving the styling in such a way that even previous-generation A4 owners have to stop and check that this is the new one.

Put the cars side by side and it's clear, but it would have been nice if the exterior was as dramatic a difference as the rest of the car - which has nosed ahead of the 3-series for the first time in a while [1] - because six months with the new A4 has shown what a great all-rounder the car is. Refinement is off the scale compared with its rivals, although the optional acoustic glass helps that admittedly, and interior quality isn't far behind.

Our car was the 99g/km entry model, branded Ultra and powered by a 150hp 2.0 diesel. In SE trim the specification is reasonable, with quite bland 17-inch alloys, three-zone climate control and rear parking sensors, although satnav is a £550 option where it would be standard on core rivals, and is on A4s from Sport trim upwards.

Little moans surround the fact that Audi fits keyless start as standard but not keyless entry, so the normal process is that you need the key out to unlock the car, then you drop it in the centre console, which is where it stays when you park, until you're out of the car and realise where you've left it. Audi is far from the sole culprit, but keyless start without keyless entry is something of a pet hate.

To get one of the first cars in the country we had to take an A4 fitted with a healthy amount of optional extras, the second most expensive of which was the LED headlights with LED rear lights and dynamic indicators [2], the latter element involving the rear indicators swiping across the light cluster rather than flashing, something the child in me never got bored of.

The LED headlights themselves were pretty bright, but apparently more noticeable for oncoming traffic considering the amount of people flashing me because they thought I had the main beam on. They don't do enough over the standard xenons to be worth the £1050 optional price tag to be honest, even if the rear indicators are cool.

While the new A4 is only 25mm longer and 16mm wider than its predecessor, interior space feels much improved, especially in the rear, which isn't often a strength of premium cars in this sector.

Luggage space is the same 480 litres as the old car, and despite saloons offering significantly less practicality than hatchbacks, let alone estates, on several occasions, including trips to Ikea, furniture shifting and family holidays, the Audi surpassed my practicality expectations.

The Ikea trip did test it to the limit (including having to move a kid's car seat to the front, where there is a handy and surprisingly uncommon Isofix attachment), as it was a spontaneous outing and therefore not planned with the military packaging precision such an expedition requires. But we managed - just [3].

The A4 broke the 50mpg average economy mark, even if the trip computer seemed to be a little optimistic in what it claimed we were achieving, to the tune of three or four miles per gallon. Runs of more than 500 miles were achievable with ease, with 562 miles the record.

As far as economy goes, a late tank of fuel averaged 56.9mpg over 527 miles of predominantly, although not exclusively, motorway mileage.

The A4 is the kind of car that doesn't shout about its talents, but quietly goes about the business of being an excellent all-rounder. It's maybe lacking a little character and initial lure compared with the BMW or Jaguar rivals, which both shade the Audi for pure driving appeal, but the depth of the A4's talents, including its residual values and running costs, is beyond anything else in the sector.

Audi A4 2.0 TDI 150 Ultra SE saloon

Mileage 8937
Official consumption 74.3mpg
Our average consumption 51.2mpg
Forecast/actual CPM 55.5p/57.0p
P11D price £29,095
Model price range £25,900-£40,350
Residual value 40.5%
Depreciation cost £17,320
Fuel £3863
Service, maintenance and repair £2610
Vehicle Excise Duty £0
National Insurance £2530
CO2 (BIK band) 99g/km (19%)
BIK 20/40% per month £92/£184
Why we were running it: To see where the new A4 sits in the pecking order of premium saloons

Verdict


  • Refinement
  • Interior quality
  • 50mpg-plus fuel economy
  • Same-again styling

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