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Audi A4 engines, drive and performance

2015 onwards (change model)
Performance rating: 4 out of 54.0

Written by Keith Adams Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 8 February 2023

  • Five engines available
  • Two petrols and three diesels
  • High-performance S4 is a diesel

Petrol engines

Audis naming convention for its engine range can be a little confusing. There’s an increasingly limited choice with just two petrols available, and both are turbocharged. Both are available with the S Tronic automatic transmission – with the manual transmission being the standard on the lower output model.

The entry-level 35 TFSI is powered by a 2.0-litre unit shared with the Volkswagen Golf, Skoda Octavia and many other products built by the VW Group. It’s quiet and easy-going with enough power for most applications, and good economy if driven carefully enough.

The 40 TFSI jumps to 204hp, and is a great mix of performance and refinement, being barely audible and certainly quick enough for most journeys. Even under heavier throttle loads, you don’t really hear it making too much noise. This is the petrol engine of choice for A4 buyers.

The automatic transmission is smooth enough for most, but it can be a little slow to respond – for example pulling out at roundabouts or across junctions. In some cases you’ll find yourself wanting a quicker reaction when you accelerate, but you can get used to it or put the gearlever in S for faster responses.

Diesel engines

The 204hp 40 TDI is a great all-rounder, and an engine we’ve tried in several VW Group products in recent years. It’s punchy and responsive, and a great option for longer journeys – with enough power and torque to keep you going, while remaining refined and quiet at a cruise.

However, having tried the 2.0-litre in the 35 TDI, it begs the question why you’d really need the 40 TDI. With 163hp, it’s more than powerful enough to keep up with traffic, and it’s just as refined and quiet as the more powerful engine – perhaps even more so. We’d suggest saving some money again and going for this engine, especially if you don’t need Quattro that the 40 TDI offers.

At the top of the diesel range is the S4 TDI, with 347hp. Despite being fuelled by the black pump, it’s quick with a 0-62mph time of 4.8 seconds – a few horses less and only a tenth slower than the petrol car it replaced. Top speed is electronically capped at 155mph.

Audi A4 saloon review (2023)
Audi A4 has accurate handling, enhanced in four-wheel drive form. What it’s missing is a dose of fun and communication.

What’s it like to drive?

  • Neat and tidy handling on all models
  • Very easy to drive at all speeds
  • Adaptive suspension really improves ride

The A4 has been criticised for lifeless steering and dull handling previously, and to some extent, we’d say that’s still the case when compared with the excellent BMW 3 Series. It’s a little slower to turn-in than its best rivals, and as a consequence, it’s not the fun choice in this market, even if it is hugely competent.

Combined with very little bodyroll, which provides a flat and confidence-inspiring cornering attitude, the A4 is pleasant to drive quickly. With Quattro all-wheel drive fitted, it feels totally unflappable where front-wheel drive versions can feel like they are losing grip if you try to go around a corner too quickly.

Like other models in the Volkswagen Group range, the Audi A4 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. Undoubtedly, it’s biased towards comfort, and at speed it’s quiet and well damped, insulating passengers from road and wind noise superbly.