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Our Fleet Test Drive: Audi A4 - 3rd Report

Date: 28 August 2008   |   Author:

It's been a hectic few weeks for our diesel German saloon, which has recently been on two train trips under the channel using the excellent Eurotunnel service.

Firstly myself, BusinessCar staff writer Tom Webster and another friend headed 250 miles into France [1] for the Le Mans 24-hour race to see a slightly quicker Audi diesel [2] triumph over Peugeot. Three people's camping gear and three night's worth of random stuff were easily swallowed by the cavernous boot.

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Le Mans, though, was only a warm up for a cross-Europe trip a week later, as my girlfriend and I spent two days in the Audi driving across France and Spain to southern Portugal for a week's sun and inactivity.

The A4 just lapped it up, although, as previously moaned about, the optional cruise control would have made life even more stress-free. Unfortunately, too, the satnav seems reluctant to divert from main roads, even when there is large amounts of time to be saved by heading a more direct route.

On the way down we saved £50 by setting the satnav to 'avoid toll roads', but the route it picked wasn't anywhere near the fastest or shortest. So at one point we ignored it and picked our own using an old-fashioned map. When the navigation picked up what we were planning, the distance to our overnight stop dropped by 100 miles. So why not pick that route to start with?

Audi has always lagged behind arch-rival BMW for driver enjoyment as the latter is rear-wheel drive, but the A4 was impressive, particularly on the route we'd picked over the Pyrenees. While my girlfriend enjoyed the stunning views [3], the punchy and continually impressive 2.0 diesel engine and heavy but well-weighted steering enabled me to enjoy the twisty mountain roads.

Other things we learnt over the jaunt? A shade under 43mpg is what you can expect if you drive at French and Spanish motorway speed limits for a couple of thousand miles. And the distance-to-empty gauge is not to be trusted - on one occasion we needed an urgent refill some 55 miles earlier than we'd originally expected, despite there being no change in driving speed or conditions.

Also the cabin could do with more storage space, especially a central bin, although the angled bottle holder in the door bin is a simple but intelligent touch that should be in all cars. But the biggest thing we've learned is the A4 is a comfortable long-distance runner with very impressive refinement.



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