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Our Fleet Test Drive: Audi A4 - first report

Date: 17 November 2015   |   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), Phone Box with wireless charging (£325), LED interior pack (£325), Audi 10-speaker sound system (£275), smoking pack (£50)

It might be par for the course with Audi, and parent company Volkswagen, but the evolutionary styling, to put it kindly, from one generation of car to the next must be stifling for the company's designers.

The A4 is the latest and in some ways greatest example, with even an A4-driving colleague of mine not sure whether it was the all-new model or not.

Which is a big shame, because the new A4 is a much bigger step forward than it looks, especially in refinement terms where it really puts the recently revised BMW 3-series and new Jaguar XE to shame.

But there are many areas - comfort, efficiency, connectivity, equipment and quality, to name just a few - where the new car is a leap forward, but unless you park new and old A4s side by side, it takes someone dressed in a certain kind of anorak to know for sure that you have the new model.

I don't care what Audi says - that must take away some of the desirability of the new model, especially in a segment that's being more hotly contested than ever.

Our A4, which we will be running for the next six months, is the first A4 to have CO2 emissions under 100g/km. The 2.0 TDI Ultra model, with a six-speed manual gearbox and 150hp diesel engine, offers a
99g/km official test figure, which equates to a 74.3mpg official fuel economy.

Obviously, the real-world result won't match that, but experience dictates 55mpg should be a realistic target. The first tank was a little below, so we'll get a few more miles under the wheels before drawing too many conclusions.

To secure an early vehicle after the model's UK launch last month, we have ended up with a car equipped with a hefty £5550 of optional extras. These vary from the almost essential (for example, the Technology pack, which includes satnav [1]) to the nice to have (e.g. the Storage pack with luggage net [2]), and include interesting options we'll assess (such as the LED headlamps [3]) and those we would never have missed if they weren't there (that means you, Smoking pack). Over the next few thousand miles we'll decide which are worth the money and which could easily be overlooked.

Our car is a classy, if anonymous Floret Silver metallic colour, and we plumped for the SE spec because that's the entry point to the range. It might, though, be advisable for drivers picking their car to look at the Sport specification if they want navigation because the step up from SE is only another £950 and brings with it satnav as standard equipment.  

The new A4 is a timely renewal for a model that was slipping behind its more modern BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes rivals, but the Audi is now right in the mix for class leadership, and in many ways, whole-life costs included, leading the segment. It will be interesting to see whether living with the car gives us a clearer perspective on where it sits against its key competitors across its range of abilities.

Audi A4 2.0 TDI 150 Ultra SE saloon

Mileage 1969
Official consumption 74.3mpg
Our average consumption 50.2mpg
Forecast/actual CPM 54.7p/58.7p
P11D price £29,095
Model price range £25,900-£40,350
Residual value 38.4%
Depreciation cost £17,920
Fuel £4036
Service, maintenance and repair £2610
Vehicle Excise Duty £0
National Insurance £2048
CO2 (BIK band) 99g/km (17%)
BIK 20/40% per month £82/£165

Verdict


  • Refinement
  • Rear space
  • Interior quality
  • Unchanged outward appearance disguises a car that has improved greatly

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