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Own an Audi A4

Rafay Ansar

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It's all too easy in our position to focus on cars that sit at the top of their respective ranges, where as the majority of buyers are actually interested in the bread-and-butter entry-level versions. This is especially true in the premium compact saloon class, where high-performance derivatives grab all the headlines yet everyone drives the turbodiesel. With so many good diesel engines on the market, and the focus on CO2 emissions, it's easy to forget about ordinary petrol models. If you really want an Audi A4, then the standard 1.8 TFSI model tested here costs a whopping £3,700 less than the cheapest TDI version.



What are its rivals?

The most obvious rival is BMW's ubiquitous 3 Series saloon, though scan through the pricelists and you'll not find a version priced quite as low as this A4. Likewise, the cheapest Mercedes-Benz C-Class is significantly more expensive. That's not to say that the 1.8 TFSI A4 competes with the costlier cars, but most buyers have a budget, and if yours is under twenty grand then count a new C-Class or 3 Series out unless you are a particularly good negotiator. Instead, the basic A4 should appeal to buyers that may be looking at petrol Ford Mondeos, the new Honda Accord and everything from the Vauxhall Vectra to the VW Passat. It's quite a crowded market segment, so the Audi's badge appeal counts for a lot, even if you get more equipment for your money elsewhere.



How does it drive?

Well enough, but you'll understand if we don't get too excited by it. You'd be forgiven for writing the turbocharged, direct-injection engine off on its meagre 118bhp, but not only is that figure produced from just 3,650rpm, it is available all the way to 6,200rpm. The maximum power is supplemented by a manlier 170lb.ft of torque, which tides the A4 over nicely from 1,500rpm until the peak power starts to come on stream. Hence, it works very well despite the size of the A4, with 0-62mph in a respectable 10.5 seconds and no need to stir the slick gearbox too much when overtaking.



Unlike its premium German rivals, the A4 is front-wheel drive, but that will only really concern keener drivers, as this version is biased towards comfort rather than cornering prowess. Therefore the ride comfort and body control are good once you don't go hurtling down seriously potholed lanes. On the motorway, where this sort of car spends the majority of its life, the A4 is nicely hushed and utterly stable.

What's impressive?

The engine. No, it's not particularly fast or economical, but it is remarkably quiet and smooth. That impression is probably strengthened by decent sound proofing, but regardless of speed or load, it remains refined and inaudible unless you really are piling on the revs, when it remains smooth.



Although some mass market models, such as the Mondeo, beat the A4 on interior accommodation, Audi can be congratulated on making one of the nicest cabins to spend any time in. The switchgear is tactile and well placed and there is plenty of space too.

What's not?

The engine. Yes, yes, it is incredibly refined, but in comparison to BMW's (admittedly more expensive) entry-level petrol option, the A4's unit emits a lot more CO2 and has a bigger thirst. Turbocharging and direct injection may have improved things, but Audi needs to go even further, especially as more and more countries move to emissions-based taxation.



Should I buy one?

There's no denying the obvious appeal of the Audi A4. It's a handsome car for a start - more so in the metal than on your monitor. The interior is one of the classiest on the market too and as big as most other cars in the segment. It is also comfortable and stable at speed. The petrol engine is the only sticking point for us. Yes, it is remarkably refined and surprisingly capable of pushing the A4 along, but it just is not quite efficient enough. Saying that, if you really want an A4 and can't stretch to one of the excellent TDI models, you'll not be too disheartened to find this car on your driveway every morning.

Specifications of Audi A4 , saloon , 1.8 TFSI , 4 dr , 19,900 on-the-road

SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer Audi
Model A4
Type saloon
Trim 1.8 TFSI
List Price 19,900 on-the-road £
Length wheelbase 4,703/2,808mm
Height width 1,427/1,826mm
Insurance Group 13
Engine Capacity 1,798cc
Fuel Petrol
Transmission Manual
Doors 4
Nil to sixty 10.5 seconds
Top speed 130mph
WARRANTIES

Manufacturer Audi
Model A4
STATISTICS

Manufacturer Audi
Model A4
Miles per Gallon 39.8 miles/gallons
C02 169 g of C02/km
FEATURES

Standard Optional
Alloy Wheels Yes
Air Conditioning Yes
Front Electric Window Yes
Rear Electric Window Yes
Satellite Naviga £No
Bluetooth £No
Stereo System Yes
Tinted Glass £No
Leather £No
Leather Interior £No
CD Player Yes
Central Door Locker Yes
Cruise Control £No
Electric Door Mi Yes
Manual Sunroof £No
Electric Sunroof £No
Power Steering Yes
AntiLock Brakes Yes
Anti Theft Device Yes
Driver Air Bag Yes
Passenger Air Bag Yes
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