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Audi A4 Saloon Review

Sales of saloon cars have been declining for some time, so how come Audi’s A4 is still doing so well? I tested the latest model in attractive 40 TFSI 190PS S line S Tronic guise to find out.

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£37,160 - S line 40 TFSI 190PS S tronic

Pros:
  • Good looking
  • Bullet-proof interior
  • Decent drive
Cons:
  • Somewhat commonplace
  • Access to load space
  • Pricey

Introduction

Audi’s ever-present A4 sits in a segment that has been diminishing for over a decade. So why go to the trouble of producing it then? Well, the automaker feels its executive-oriented booted model still has a part to play in the automotive amphitheatre. The latest A4 is undoubtedly more attractive than ever, but can the saloon compete with the likes of Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus and even Jaguar? I took the 40 TFSI 190PS S line S tronic version for a drive, in and around Northamptonshire to find out.

On The Road

  • Performance
  • Ride Handling
  • Refinement
AUDI A4

The Audi A4 comes fitted with a broad range of engines. You can select diesel or petrol, with clout ranging from 136ps to 245ps. The demonisation of diesel is a shame because heavy oil propulsion suits the A4 saloon. So, if you can’t, or don’t want to go down the diesel route, the next best thing is the 190ps 40 TFSI, housing a 2.0-litre turbo petrol unit. This engine delivers substantial performance without impacting on running costs much. The model is lively, doing the zero to 62mph dash in 7.3 seconds, and it has a top speed of 149mph.

What's more, the seven-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission (S tronic in Audi’s language) suits it, never displaying any hesitance, as it sometimes does in other Audis. 

Certainly, the 40 TFSI is a brilliant blend of refinement and performance, being only just audible and unquestionably hasty enough for most trips. Even under weightier throttle loads, you don’t hear the A4 saloon making much sound – it’s a very soothing power unit – unlike, say, the Lexus IS 300’s.

AUDI A4

Aside from a fidgety ride around the potholed streets of Northampton, I found the Audi A4 40 TFSI S line saloon to be a muscular alternative, certainly compared with its German compatriots. Once out of the choked town and on the M1 motorway heading south, my turbo petrol test car was quiet, swift and planted. The unity of the slick-changing automatic ‘box and the 2.0-litre engine make for a comfortable, confidence-inciting and dynamic ride. 

The suspension is not markedly soft like some Mercedes C-Class models can be, but it doesn’t jolt you about either. When I swung off the M1 onto twisty rural roads, the A4 did a top job of ironing out blemishes in the blacktop. And it’s on the country curves that you really start to become aware of the 40 TFSI S line’s flat and assured cornering behaviour.

AUDI A4

All A4s get LED technology and alloys, while the S line model, as tested, looks even sexier with "swooshing" indicators, rear privacy glass and sportier bumpers. The factory-fitted kit contained within the A4 came on leaps and bounds at the last facelift in 2019. From parking sensors, cruise control, three-zone climate control to a good quality infotainment system, it seems the Audi saloon has it all. But there's more. It also boasts heated front seats, navigation, a reversing camera and digital instrumentation. 

The S line is the one you want, though, if you’re after added spice and style. Mind you, on top of all the kit above, the flagship Vorsprung gives you the whole deal, including adaptive suspension, a head-up display, a better sound system and a sunroof. 

Then again, whichever trim level you opt for, the cabin of the A4 is a lovely place to be. In terms of equipment, it competes with, if not surpasses, the BMW 3 Series and Jaguar’s XE.

In The Car

  • Behind the Wheel
  • Space & Practicality
AUDI A4

Audi is a company renowned for its interiors, and the A4 doesn’t let the side down. It vaunts the neatest and best quality, if not the most exhilarating, design of the compact executive segment. 

The driving position is excellent and, each aspect of the switchgear feels encouragingly solid, with immaculate detailing and design. And, on the move, the A4 saloon is hugely competent and doesn’t shove its reasonably punchy ability into your face, as much as a similarly powered BMW does. 

The energy is restrained, but there are piles of shove when you want it. Even thoroughly weighed down with people and possessions, the 190ps 40 TFSI never runs out of breath and enables you to cover lots of miles readily. There’s little body roll, and the sporty steering wheel, as seen in other S lines, gives the saloon a lively feel. A BMW’s steering is more meticulous, but the A4 is still a pleasure to drive. 

The car also has familiar features, such as the “virtual cockpit” display first launched in the Audi TT and the long air-vent strip appropriated from its trendy Q7 relative.

AUDI A4

Occupants in the rear of the A4 saloon get a very liberal amount of headroom and legroom. A tall transmission tunnel consumes foot space, though, so getting three adults across the bench will be tight. That shouldn't be a deal-breaker because it's the same for the A4's key opponents – namely Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus and Jaguar. Mind you, if lots of room is your priority, you might want to check out Skoda’s Superb or even VW's Passat instead. 

Perhaps the most practical part of the A4 is its standard split-folding rear bench. The seat-backs separate in a handy 40/20/40 arrangement, so you can collapse the centre backrest to load lengthy objects while still transporting a couple of passengers.

And as for boot space, the A4’s cargo capacity of 480-litres (with the rear seats in place) is what you’d expect in this segment. Because it’s a saloon, the limited opening hampers access, as it does in most competitors’ boots. Still, you’ll get a large weekly shop or two sets of golf clubs in there without having to fold the back seats down. 

Oh, and it’s also worth knowing that every new A4 is fitted with an electric boot lid release button. It's the sort of basic feature you'll grow to appreciate, believe me.

Ownership

  • Running Costs
  • Quality & Reliability
  • Safety & Security
AUDI A4

The A4 40 TFSI 190PS S line S tronic, as tested, will do a claimed combined mpg of 39.2 while emitting 137g/km of CO2. This is competitive for this size of motor. Mind you, while circumnavigating the roads of Northamptonshire and the M1, I only managed to get early-30s mpg. 

If you want an executive saloon, and your heart is set on an A4, you’d be better off with the 35 TDI in Technik spec, though. Yes, it’s diesel, but this is the most efficient Audi A4 and just whips the BMW’s comparable 318d. 

Quality & Reliability

The Audi A4’s interior and exterior build-quality are rock solid, so the car will cope with years of use. That said, the A4 does only averagely in reliability surveys. Take the J.D. Power UK Vehicle Dependability Survey as a case in point - Audi has finished in the bottom three of all the automakers before. 

All that said, look back to 1972’s Audi 80 – the A4’s predecessor – and you’ll discover that 12 million related models have been built. The fact that the A4 is still going means Audi must be doing something right. After all, this car is as mainstream as the automaker’s cars get, so achievement is vital to the model. The last generation A4 was only recalled twice, once for its brakes and another for its airbags.

Furthermore, the engines are a combination of all-new ones and those seen within the Volkswagen Group line-up, with no issues reported yet. Plus, the diesel engines in the latest A4s aren’t affected by the “Dieselgate” disgrace.

For extra assuredness, the German firm provides a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, which consists of roadside assistance. And, for a moderate cost, you can increase this cover on your Audi A4 to five years or 90,000 miles.

AUDI A4

The Audi A4’s interior and exterior build-quality are rock solid, so the car will cope with years of use. That said, the A4 does only averagely in reliability surveys. Take the J.D. Power UK Vehicle Dependability Survey as a case in point - Audi has finished in the bottom three of all the automakers before. 

All that said, look back to 1972’s Audi 80 – the A4’s predecessor – and you’ll discover that 12 million related models have been built. The fact that the A4 is still going means Audi must be doing something right. After all, this car is as mainstream as the automaker’s cars get, so achievement is vital to the model. The last generation A4 was only recalled twice, once for its brakes and another for its airbags.

Furthermore, the engines are a combination of all-new ones and those seen within the Volkswagen Group line-up, with no issues reported yet. Plus, the diesel engines in the latest A4s aren’t affected by the “Dieselgate” disgrace.

For extra assuredness, the German firm provides a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, which consists of roadside assistance. And, for a moderate cost, you can increase this cover on your Audi A4 to five years or 90,000 miles.

AUDI A4

The Audi A4 earned five stars from Euro NCAP for its competence in protecting occupants in a crash. However, examine the marks carefully, and you'll discover the Audi recorded lower results than the rival Jaguar XE for protecting pedestrians and adults. That said, it’s better at keeping children safe and sound. 

All Audi A4s are equipped as standard with automatic emergency braking to help avert low-speed collisions, and the elective driving assistance pack encompasses adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance and road sign recognition. The A4 saloon also comes kitted out with no less than six airbags. 

And, on the security side of things, Thatcham gave Audi’s A4 the top five stars for theft resistance and four out of five marks for defending against “smash and grab” thieves.

More On This Car
Take one for a spin or order a brochure
Request a AUDI A4 test drive
Request a AUDI A4 test drive

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