Audi A4 2.0 TDI SE Saloon

February 2008

picture of car from the front

The new A4 is longer, wider and lower than the outgoing model

Ratings

Overall Rating 8Overall rating

Value for money Rating 7Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 7Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 8Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 8Controls and display

Comfort Rating 9Comfort

Security Rating 8Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


Likes

  • Spacious and very comfortable
  • Good equipment levels and specification
  • Impressive build quality and refinement
  • Stable and highly responsive chassis and handling

Gripes

  • Inconveniently placed drinks holders
  • Drivers' foot well is cramped
  • Larger dimensions make it less nimble than competitors around town
  • Too many buttons located distractingly around the gear lever

A main contender in the ultra-competitive D-Segment since 1994, the Audi A4 has developed into every bit the German premium product. Despite the quality, the Audi badge still doesn't quite carry the same weight as some of the other German premium manufacturers. Audi hopes that the new A4 saloon will be the car to change that.

Building on the already impressive reputation of the outgoing A4, Audi seeks to earn true luxury status for the model with the new saloon. A host of high end features have trickled down from the manufacturer's larger models including electronic handbrakes and an intelligent blind spot warning system in an attempt to give the model the edge over its equally well established premium medium rivals.

Despite the advanced technology present inside the new car, it's the rather more basic aspect of sheer size that will initially catch the buyer's attention. The new A4 is longer, wider and lower than the outgoing model giving it considerably more presence. It's also very spacious in terms of leg and headroom as well as boot space. Stylish and sporty elements from the Audi's other recent models have also rubbed off on the car giving it a sleeker look, but without sacrificing the discreet styling that's traditionally present in Audi's models.

The new A4 features a completely new body shell that's both lighter and stiffer. The result is a car that makes better use of its fuel but is also more entertaining and responsive to drive. Extra attention has been paid to ensuring a high level of refinement. Better aerodynamic efficiency helps reduce wind noise as well as lower consumption and even the diesel engine models are extremely quiet inside.

Two petrol and three diesel engines are initially available. The diesel units are likely to prove most popular and are extremely capable. Power delivery is very smooth and even the smallest of the diesel units pulls from low down in the rev band. Quattro all-wheel drive is available with the more powerful petrol and diesel engines to fully exploit the units' power and the poised saloon's fine handling.

Our verdict on the Audi A4 2.0 TDI SE Saloon

It's hard not to be impressed with the Audi A4 Saloon. Stylish without being overwhelming, refined but great fun to drive hard, practical and spacious without being dull and extremely well equipped, it covers all bases to a very high level. It's an extremely well designed and built model that's well on the way to setting a new benchmark for the premium D-segment.

Costs
Costs rating 7

Insurance groupings for the 2.0-litre diesel model are middle of the road, and fuel consumption figures are impressive considering the size of the vehicle. The use of lightweight, high-strength steel has made a considerable difference. Audi predicts excellent resale values for the A4 too, which makes it a sensible choice compared to some of the premium sector models that can take large hits on their residual values.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 8

The extra length of the model translates into impressive legroom for rear occupants and headroom is also plentiful. The boot is spacious, its width slightly impeded by the panels concealing the hinge mechanisms, but the length and depth more than make up for it. The A4 offers the interior feel of a car from a larger segment and although its saloon body is not as practical a load carrier as an estate or hatchback, it will easily cope with run-of-the-mill family life.

picture of car from the rear

The new A4 saloon has noticeably more sweeping lines

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 8

The efficient ergonomics and displays of the A4 are well suited to the business-orientated D-segment. The colour screen displays information concisely and another small display in the instrument cluster is equally easy to read. The centre console remains largely uncluttered but that's due to the location of several buttons and switches around the gear lever, which can be distracting until you're familiar with their locations and functions. The automatic parking brake switch is an elegant and functional touch of luxury, however.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 9

The A4 saloon is a delight to spend time in and will rack up the miles with little effect on the driver. Neatly weighted controls are easy work, and a switch operated parking brake takes some of the strain. The only negative is the cramped foot well with slightly offset pedals and a drinks holder location that means bottles can obstruct the elbow during gear changes. Passengers will have no such problems though, with extremely comfortable seats and their own controls for the three-zone climate control.

Car security
Security Rating 8

The saloon body style lends itself to security with limited access to the boot, however the A4 also features lockable storage inside and a Thatcham category 1 approved alarm and immobiliser to keep intruders out and the car where it should be.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

Audi has a raft of additional safety systems available for the A4 saloon including blind spot and lane wandering warning systems. They're not standard for the SE, but it does come with automatic headlights and wipers, halogen daytime running lamps with the option of attention-grabbing LED upgrades, ESP, foglights and front and side airbags.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 8

The new A4 retains the stability and forgiving ride that's required from a car that will likely spend much of its life covering motorway miles but tempers it with a taught, responsive chassis that's both simple and great fun to exploit. The 2.0-litre diesel unit pulls the car's weight with ease and offers extremely smooth power delivery and quick reactions to throttle input, while the steering gives plenty of feedback from the well balanced chassis. The A4 saloon is at home on both the motorway and a twisty stretch of country road.

picture of car interior

Interior ergonomics and materials are excellent

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 8

The A4 will easily swap between business and family duties. The large boot will swallow weekly grocery shops and even young adults will find there is no shortage of room in the rear. More expensive interior options may not be fully childproof, but the excellent build quality and robust materials should cope with the trials of family life comfortably.

First car appeal
First car Rating 4

The A4 is someway up the car ownership ladder, and although its easy nature would lend itself well to new drivers the size would not. The price of the premium model would also exclude all but the most fortunate of first time car buyers.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 6

The quality of Audi's products has rarely been in doubt and drivers will feel as though they have purchased a very well built machine. The brand has suffered from a dowdy image at times however, largely as a result of the company's deliberately discreet styling. This is something that the new A4, with its sleeker lines and more stylish design, will seek to address.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

Being longer and wider than the outgoing model, the additional size of the new A4 means that there's plenty of scope for easy access. There are four large passenger doors and a big boot door. The new model sits quite low, an aspect that's noticeable in the sports car-like low-slung driving position. That may mean older drivers find they have to stoop or lower themselves into the new vehicle rather more than the old.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

Although the menus for the integrated sound system take a little mastering, the quality of the system itself is superb. A 6.5-inch colour screen displays settings and options for the high power sound system and its ten speakers. The standard system features a MP3 compatible CD player and SD card reader.

picture of car in detail

LED running lamps are a distinctive option

Colours and trim

As befits the premium intentions of the A4 saloon, the majority of the colour choices are in metallic or pearl effect paint. However, in keeping with Audi's reputation for understatement, none of the colours are garish. Interestingly, three of the most extravagant shades, Brilliant Red, Black and Ibis White, are in solid paint. A strong range of distinctive but subdued patterns and colours for cloth and leather seats is also available. Aluminium inserts are standard.

Parking

Rear parking sensors are standard in SE trim, an upgrade to the full parking system offers a colour map of obstacles to the front and rear and there's the option of a reversing camera. Electronic assistance is useful due to the increased length of the model and although it's relatively easy to maintain some idea of where the A4 starts and ends, it's a noticeably larger car than some of its rivals.

Spare wheel

Space saver fitted as standard.

 

Range information

Petrol engine options - 1.8-litre (158bhp); 3.2-litre (261bhp). Diesel engine options - 2.0-litre (141bhp); 2.7-litre (187bhp); 3.0-litre (237bhp). Transmission options: six-speed manual gearbox, eight-speed multitronic clutchless manual gearbox with a switchable fully auto mode and paddle shift, Quattro all-wheel drive on 3.2-litre petrol and 3.0-litre diesel models. Trim levels: SE, S Line.

 

Alternative cars

Mercedes-Benz C-Class More expensive, but more exclusive, D-segment mainstay

BMW 3 Series 3 Series always proves popular, particularly with diesel efficiency

Jaguar X-Type Luxury British alternative that failed to make a big impression

Lexus IS Japanese premium brand prides itself on refinement



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February 2008