- Four petrol engines and a quartet of diesels
- 2.0 TDI 150hp Ultra dips under 100g/km of CO2
- Range-topping performance from the S4
There’s a massive range of engines available for this car, especially if you favour diesel power, and Audi A4 Saloon performance is fairly wide-ranging.
Four petrol-powered choices
For the regular A4 Saloon range, there are three to choose from, ranging from 1.4 to 2.0 litres in capacity, all with four cylinders and turbocharging.
The 1.4-litre TFSI is used throughout the Volkswagen Group range, with good reason; developing 150hp and 250Nm of torque, it possesses smooth refinement that would be the envy of many far larger engines. It’ll even sprint from 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds (8.5 for the automatic). Top speed is 130mph.
It’s only available in SE and Sport trims though, so if your heart is set on S line specification the entry-level petrol engine is the 190hp 2.0-litre TFSI. In many ways an even more exciting proposition, and not just for its extra 40hp, but for its identical CO2 emissions.
Compared with the 1.4-litre automatic, it produces the same amount of CO2 out of the tailpipe, despite producing a far meatier 320Nm of torque. The 0-62mph sprint is taken care of in 7.3 seconds while top speed is 149mph.
Sitting above that is the 252hp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol, with 370Nm of torque available from just 1,600rpm, which feels as urgent as its 5.8-second 0-62mph time suggests. It’s only available with Quattro four-wheel drive and seven-speed automatic gearbox, but comes complete with an encouraging soundtrack.
Joining the line-up in summer 2016, the 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 S4 Saloon has 354hp at its disposal, as well as 500Nm of torque from just 1,370rpm.
Transmitting that power to all four wheels is an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic and Audi’s Quattro drivetrain. Although top speed’s electronically limited to 155mph, the sprint from 0-62mph takes just 4.7 seconds.
Audi A4 Saloon diesel engines
The choice of diesel engines is as broad, with a pair of 2.0-litre units boasting differing outputs (150hp and 190hp) and two 3.0-litre V6 diesels with 218hp or 272hp.
Even more economical editions of the 2.0-litre TDIs, badged Ultra, offer almost the same degree of performance with superior efficiency.
The entry-level 150hp 2.0 TDI manages the 0-62mph sprint in 8.9 seconds (8.7 with the automatic) and the higher-power 190hp model completes the same in 7.7 seconds (7.2 for the Quattro). Torque figures are 320 and 400Nm respectively. Top speeds vary from 130mph for the manual 150hp 2.0-litre TDI Ultra, to 149mph for the manual 190hp 2.0-litre TDI.
The 190hp version feels more urgent in day-to-day driving, and doesn’t lose any of the refinement of the 150hp model, so if you can afford the extra outlay we’d heartily recommend the upgrade, albeit in Ultra guise.
And if money, or company car tax stipulations, are of little concern, then it’s worth trying the V6 cars, as even the 218hp model – with its 400Nm – can accelerate from 0-62mph in 6.3 seconds, all while returning over 60mpg and, when fitted with 17-inch alloys, emitting just 119g/km of CO2. Top speed is 155mph.
It’s a refined and ample-feeling engine, offering up all the performance you’ll ever need in everyday driving – especially on the motorway where its low-down pulling power comes into its own.
Even the 272hp version, complete with Quattro four-wheel drive and eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard, returns over 54mpg and emits just 129g/km, despite its 5.3-second 0-62mph time and 155mph top speed. You can thank its massive 600Nm of torque for that.
Three gearbox options on offer
Depending on which engine you go for, there are three different gearbox options on offer. The six-speed manual is slick, precise and easy-to-use and comes as standard on the 1.4-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel engines.
A seven-speed S Tronic is available or standard on all engines but the 272hp 3.0-litre diesel and offers smooth, quick changes. Finally, the eight-speed Tiptronic (only available on the 272hp 3.0-litre diesel) is relaxing and refined, but can be a little lazy and doesn’t suit being driven quickly.
- Sharper to drive than before
- Audi Drive Select standard
- Adaptive dampers and quattro four-wheel drive available
The old car was criticised for lifeless steering and dull handling; not so this iteration of Audi A4.
While the steering may still lack the final degree of feedback of a BMW 3 Series Saloon, the helm now transfers more information than before, is ideally weighted (in Comfort mode) and completely linear in its response.
Combined with very little bodyroll, which provides a flat and confidence inspiring cornering attitude, the A4 is pleasant to drive quickly. That said, you’d be hard-pushed to class it as engaging or thrilling to drive.
Audi Drive Select System
Like other models in the Volkswagen Group range, the Audi A4 Saloon benefits from a configurable Drive Select system, with four distinct modes (Comfort, Auto, Efficiency, Dynamic plus Individual to allow for mixed settings) that alter steering feel and throttle response, among other factors.
Our test examples all benefitted from Adaptive dampers too, which are also affected by the Drive Select system, and provided our examples with a neat balance of comfort and control. Especially when combined with Quattro four-wheel drive, which has plenty of grip, allowing you to have absolute faith in the car and its traction levels – whatever the weather.
Sportier S4 experience
Not only has the performance of the Audi S4 Saloon been ramped up, the firm’s taken measures to make it more engaging to drive – with a degree of success.
Its suspension’s been lowered by 23mm compared with regular A4s and along with Quattro four-wheel drive, the S4 features torque vectoring, gently braking the ‘inside’ wheels as you corner, allowing you to maintain a tighter line at higher speed.
Audi recognises that its sportier derivatives need more pizzazz hence 60 percent of the S4’s power is automatically directed to the rear wheels. It does make it a little more playful when the traction control’s switched off, although this can be amplified further with an optional sports differential to meter out the power to whichever rear wheel has the best traction.
- Quality interior better than competition
- Simple, stylish design breaks no new ground
- Plenty of clever on-board technology available
Audi is a company famed for its interiors, and it’s no different with the new A4 Saloon, which boasts the best quality and neatest – if not the most exciting – design of the compact executive class.
There are similarities with the Volkswagen Passat, and even more so with the Audi Q7, thanks to the full-width air vent graphic. That seven-inch multimedia screen looks like it should fold away – as per the Audi A6 - but is, in fact, permanently fixed.
Choose an A4 Saloon in a high enough specification and you can enjoy the firm’s Virtual Cockpit system, which displays all relevant information (from sat-nav, audio, telephone and regular dials) on a multi-configurable 12.3-inch LCD screen replacing the standard instruments.
It’s essentially the same as the system found on the TT and Q7 models (the former of which does without a central screen in addition), and makes an impressive – if not essential – addition to the cabin.
Intuitive controls and excellent build quality
It’s essentially the same as the system found on the TT and Q7 models, though unlike the former (which makes do without a central screen in addition) we’re not sure it’s worth the extra outlay.
As you’d expect, each element of switchgear feels reassuringly solid, with fine design and neat detailing and we especially like the conductive toggle-switch style climate controls.
The MMI rotary controller, with fingertip input, is especially easy to use and the three-spoke steering wheel found in our test cars comfortable to hold.
Seat adjustment, along with that of the steering wheel, is ample and we found no issues getting into a comfortable driving position.
- Ride quality is a highlight, especially with adaptive dampers
- Double-glazing option keeps exterior noise down
- On the road the A4’s quieter than the flagship A8
The Audi A4’s comfort levels are very good on standard suspension, rising to excellent when fitted with the optional adaptive damping system.
Ride comfort is a particular highlight, and with the constantly-reacting dampers, it even manages to carry off larger wheels without massive issue – generally combatting any lump or bump it encounters in the road with ease.
Wind noise is equally impressive, the firm having cut the saloon’s drag coefficient down to Cd 0.23 and claiming the cabin of the compact executive now betters the firm’s A8 luxury saloon for serenity on the move.
It certainly seems this way in practice, the A4 moving with impressive grace and tranquillity, though again all our test examples were fitted with the optional double-glazing.