It used to be that cars such as the Audi A4 were just aimed at the executives of the world-not anymore. With the shrinking of the family-car category, buyers are flocking to alternatives such as the Audi A4 and BMW 3-Series. No wonder-an Audi badge signifies a high level of quality, as well as strong residual values and interiors that feel refined.
The Audi A4’s looks have been in a state of evolution since the first-generation car of 1994. The current model successfully manages to blend a sense of comfortable style with go-getting aggression.
At the front, the A4 has angular headlights complete with sharp-looking daytime running lights flanking a huge grille, with various creases and folds in the front bumper depending on which trim you’ve gone for. Some models have splashes of extra chrome, while the sportier S Line trims have plenty of black highlights.
All models come with alloy wheels of varying diameter, from 17-inchers on entry-level SE cars (renamed Technik after a mid-life facelift in 2019), up to 19-inch on top-end Black Edition cars. If the A4’s looks don’t quite float your boat, there are many alternatives available, including the big-selling BMW 3-Series and the conservative Mercedes C-Class. And of course, there’s the sharp-looking Jaguar XE.
The current model successfully manages to blend a sense of comfortable style with go-getting aggression.
What’s it like to drive?
It is the steak and chips of the driving world - reassuring is a good way to describe how the Audi A4 drives. On faster twisty roads, the A4 corners faithfully and doesn’t get upset by odd cambers and bumps, without ever threatening to become fun to drive.
If you want to really enjoy a back-road blast, the BMW 3-Series and Jaguar XE are both more entertaining, albeit at the expense of some comfort.
There’s an enormous range of engine to choose from. The 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine will be ideal for town driving. While for frequent, longer journeys, the lower-powered 2.0-litre TDI diesel will suit you.
Cars with the optional adaptive suspension do a brilliant job of smoothing away the surface. SE models on smaller alloy wheels are also extremely comfortable.
It is the steak and chips of the driving world
In the competition for buyers’ hearts and minds, the interior is where Audi is really on home turf. The brand has long had a reputation for building stunningly beautiful and classy interiors, and so it continues with the A4, even though it’s a long way from being the most expensive Audi.
Absolutely everything you touch on a regular basis is either solidly classy, sumptuously soft or operates with a slick precision. There are no cheap materials anywhere, even down to the bottoms of the door trims. You could take a selfie in the boot and still look great.
Everything is where you would expect it to be, and it’s all beautifully backlit at night. Before the 2019 facelift, the central screen was slightly smaller and was controlled through a central click wheel surrounded by a few buttons. After the tweaks, the click wheel was no more, and the screen had been replaced by a larger touchscreen. Both systems work brilliantly.
Some have conventional dials. It’s worth looking for examples with the optional Virtual Cockpit fitted. This replaces the dial with a 12.3-inch display through which you can see and control most of the car’s functions.
The entry-level SE models pack some amazing features. They have cruise control, parking sensors at both ends, 17in alloy wheels, a DAB radio and xenon headlights. Sport trim brings sports seats, bigger alloy wheels and a better audio set-up. And the range-topping Black Edition models have part-leather-part-Alcantara trim, LED lights and 19in alloys.
With loads of headroom and legroom in the front and rear, the Audi A4 is ideal if you regularly have to carry more than one passenger. Indeed, it’s a match for most rivals and better than many.
Better still, the boot is so cavernous it might even echo. You’ll be able to carry at least two large suitcases and a couple of carry-on cases. The load area is nice and rectangular, and the boot opening itself is large, making getting stuff in and out easy (so when it comes to loading and unloading the weekly food shop, this boot can make the job smooth sailing). It also has various tie-down points and hooks to keep loads exactly where you left them – no tins of beans rolling in the back here.
If you need more luggage capacity, a Skoda Octavia would make a fine alternative, because it is truly enormous, or if you want to keep it in the family, the Audi A5 Sportback offers all that’s good about the saloon.
Running costs and reliability
For those who rarely leave the city, the 1.4-litre petrol is ideal. It has enough sparkle to make accelerating between the lights and ducking and diving in traffic easy, and it will do an average economy figure in the early to mid-30s.
The lower-powered 2.0-litre diesel is ideal for those who do a higher mileage, and you can expect an economy figure in the mid-40s, on average.
What we love
The Audi A4 is a bit of a peach of a car. It drives wonderfully well: it’s quiet, it wraps you up in an interior that few cars can better, and of course, it has those four rings on the nose. Not only that, but it gets on with making you feel rather good about life, while unobtrusively dealing with everything you can throw at it. It’s undeniably at its best on a long journey, where a huge number of miles simply disappear behind, and you’ll feel no more tired at the end of the trip than when it started.
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Town and country drivers
The Audi A4 is simply one of the best executive cars out there, no question. It makes most journeys pass without causing any negative impact on your day, and no matter which version you choose, it’ll have loads of kit to keep you comfortable and entertained.
Frankly, a five-star crash test rating is simply the icing on the cake.
This review was