Review: Audi A4

Audi’s are about craftsmanship, fine quality and technology

03 Jun 15 Tim Barnes-Clay

Pros

  • Adaptable driving position

  • Even basic models are well equipped

  • Very spacious

Cons

  • High repair and maintenance costs

  • Dull exterior design

  • Optional extra's are pricey

Our expert rating

The Audi A4 is a compact executive car, made in saloon or estate form since 1994. The version that came along in 2008 is probably the most cost effective to buy on the second hand market.

There are quite a number of petrol and diesel engines to choose from, with Audi’s Quattro (four-wheel drive) system being an option on all models, apart from the 1.8 litre petrol and lower-powered diesels.

Performance

The turbo diesel engines, in particular, combine first rate pulling power with efficiency. The 2.0 litre TDI is an excellent blend of performance and fuel economy, while the larger, more commanding, 3.0 TDI is best if you plan to do a lot of towing.

Rear of Audi A4 in white

Ride and handling

The chassis of the 2008 onwards Audi A4 is good with its sporty precision, comfort and safety. It is composed at speed and all models are quiet. Even under harsh acceleration the engine noise is barely audible.

In addition, the suspension is particularly accomplished at soaking up lumps and bumps on any road surface. The seats provide bags of support, too, and are perfect for long commutes.

Interior space

Step inside any secondhand diesel or petrol powered Audi and you will soon see where the Bavarian based company’s focus lies. Audi’s have always been all about craftsmanship, fine quality and technology.

There is plenty of room in the back for two adults, or three at a push, with respectable legroom and decent headroom.

The driving position is very adaptable as well, making it easy to get comfy behind the wheel. The Audi A4 saloon has a 480-litre boot, which is the same as its key rivals, the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class saloons. With the Audi A4 Avant (estate), load space jumps to a useful 490 litres.

interior of Audi A4

What to know before you buy

The A4 is a stunningly good used buy because Audis have a generally admirable reputation for dependability. Indeed, there have been no recalls for the German made car since 2004. The kind of things that trouble cheaper brands, such as trim rattles or electrical blips don’t tend to affect the Audi A4.

The only downside of owning one is, like many German premium cars, the repair and car maintenance costs are pretty high. The other slight black mark is that the A4’s looks are a tad more plain compared with its rivals.

Boot space for Audi A4

Alternative cars

As mentioned, the BMW 3 Series is the Audi A4’s biggest opponent, with the Mercedes-Benz C-Class following hot on its heels. The BMW is generally sportier and the Mercedes offers perhaps more perceived status, but all offer exceptional build quality and are considered “premium”.

All three German models have a large assortment of engines and trim levels - and they come in saloon or estate formats.

Alternative car to Audi A4 - BMW 3 series

Overall verdict

Audis tend to have a less aggressive image than, say, BMWs. To some extent, the make is still a mystery. Even though the Audi is a high-end luxury brand, it has always been about understatement. It has never been about shouting from every rooftop – and that tends to be appreciated by motorists who want motion without commotion.

All Audi A4s are well equipped, too, meaning that even the entry level “SE” badged version is a sensible used model to check out. It comes with features like electric windows, climate control, and alloy wheels.

So, if you’re after cut-price kudos, then a secondhand Audi A4, with its emblem of four linked rings, will boost your presence on the road in an instant.

Expert rating

Performance

Reliability

Space & comfort

Running costs

Value for money

Overall