Our Fleet Test Drive: Audi A4 - 5th Report
24 September 2008
 Key in the slot
Our new Audi A4 is leaving positive impressions, apart from when it comes to the speedo.
Somehow, Audi has managed to utterly foul up a simple implement  that should be as easy to read as possible. Our problem is that the marking for 20mph is so large it actually also covers the 30mph point.
Having the seat set how I want it - as low as possible - also means the protruding console surround blocks the markings on the outside of the dial, making it doubly difficult to check your speed with a cursory glance. And the digits are squeezed much too close together. Good job there's also the option of showing the speed on the digital read-out in the centre of the screen. Normally I have an irrational hatred of digital speedos, but in this case it's essential.
For some reason, the speedometer also goes up to 180mph. We don't think our 2.0 TDI will quite reach that.
There are also a couple of other minor moans, while we're in the mood. Everyone that's driven the A4 has complained about catching their shoes on the edge of the foot rest when dipping the clutch. The rest is too far to the right and it's too easy to catch a Nike trainer/Clarks loafer on it.
And the 'clever' key is anything but. Rather than fitting a traditional turn-key ignition, you slide the fob into a slot  and push it to fire the engine. Which is fine, apart from the fact the A4 seems easier than some to stall, at which point the whole system falls apart. No-one's yet worked out the technique for an instant refire. You just end up pushing away at the end of the fob until the car decides it's time to restart, by which point the traffic behind is irritated. I think it must be an idiot switch to show the rest of the world that you've been dumb enough to stall it.