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Audi A4 ultra Test Drive Review

Date: 18 September 2015   |   Author:

Category: Upper medium
P11D price: £29,150
Key rival: BMW 3-series
On sale: September 2015
Equipment: 17in alloy wheels, three-zone aircon, cruise control, xenon headlights, rear parking sensors, 7in media system, split-folding rear seats, switchable driving modes
Engines:Petrol: 150hp, 190hp 2.0-litre, 218hp, 272hp 3.0-litre.
Diesel: 150hp 1.4-litre, 190hp, 252hp 2.0-litre
Trims: SE, Sport, S-line
Transmissions: 6-spd manual, 7-spd and 8-spd automatics

The new A4 practically shares its handsome lines with the current model, but Audi has transformed this machine under the skin and introduced more efficient engines, including a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol that emits just 116g/km of CO2 in automatic form, making it a viable fleet alternative to diesel models.

Available with seven engines - varying from 150hp petrol and diesel models to rapid 252hp petrol and 272hp diesel options - the updated A4 gains extra power while emissions have fallen by up to 22%.

The A4 has also grown in size to offer a more spacious interior - with room for four tall adults to sit in comfort, although space for a fifth is limited - and looks slick and feels upmarket in entry-level SE trim, while pricier Sport and S-line trims feature extras such as satnav, upgraded audio systems and supportive sports seats.

Meanwhile, the 150hp manual 2.0-litre diesel returns 99g/km of CO2 - allied to 74.3mpg economy - securing a 17% BIK rate, with the 190hp version slotting into the 18% band with a 102g/km figure.

These numbers place the 190hp model between BMW and Jaguar rivals, but on the road what makes the biggest impression is A4's sheer refinement: the engine makes little noise and is very smooth - even when worked hard - and always feels eager, accelerating strongly from low engine speeds.

Thanks to 'acoustic' glass, wind noise is virtually inaudible too, while the suspension provides a very smooth and quiet ride, making the A4 a particularly comfortable cruiser. It also takes corners with aplomb with precise steering, and although it can't match the BMW for driving fun, it's still enjoyable to drive.

The 150hp 1.4-litre petrol is sprightly and emits a meagre 126g/km, while providing plenty of low-down power. A price tag some £3250 below the equivalent diesel also makes it strong value.

Despite impressive emissions of 116g/km, however, the 190hp 2.0-litre petrol automatic isn't as pleasant to drive, with the engine feeling coarse and the automatic gearbox proving indecisive when choosing gears.

Whole-life cost figures are yet to be released for most of the A4 range, but early sums put the 2.0 TDI 150 Ultra automatic just 0.1p behind an equivalent Jaguar XE at 59.4p per mile with the satnav-equipped Sport version weighing in at 60.1p, which still undercuts the BMW 320d ED Plus auto, the much slower Mercedes C200 CDI SE auto, and the hybrid Lexus IS300 SE.

Considering those costs, the A4 is a very appealing machine. The new Audi feels more upmarket, refined and comfortable than its Jaguar rival, while offering a more appealing interior and quieter motor than the BMW 3-series and significantly undercutting the Mercedes C-class.

Consequently, it looks set to remain a fleet favourite.

Audi A4 2.0 TDI Ultra 150 SE S-tronic

Model price range £25,900-£38,950
Residual value 38.5%
Depreciation £18,825
Fuel £4159
Service, maintenance and repair £2715
Vehicle Excise Duty £40
National Insurance £2282
Cost per mile 59.4p
Fuel consumption 72.4mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 101g/km (18%)
BIK 20/40% per month £92/£184
Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space 480 litres
Engine size/power 1984cc/150hp

Verdict


Low running costs, punchy diesel engine and a plush interior make the A4 a great business machine
9/10
  • Blends very high comfort and refinement with low whole-life costs
  • Satnav not standard on entry-level SE trim, unlike 3-series equivalent

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