- Wide range of engines available
- From frugal petrols and diesels
- To high-performance S4 TDI
The A4 now features Audi’s latest naming convention for its engine range, so it can be a little confusing. There’s certainly a lot to choose from, whether it’s petrol or diesel.
Here are the petrol offerings:
- 35 TFSI – 1.5-litre turbo with 150hp and 270Nm of torque
- 40 TFSI – 2.0-litre turbo with 190hp and 320Nm of torque
- 45 TFSI – 2.0-litre turbo with 245hp and 370Nm of torque
The entry-level 1.5-litre petrol is actually quite a convincing thing - quiet and easy-going with enough power for most applications, and good economy if you driven carefully enough. Low CO2 and list price means it's not a bad option for a low mileage company car driver too. The automatic S Tronic gearbox manages the small engine's output very well and makes it seem like there's something much larger under the bonnet.
Of the more powerful versions, so far we’ve driven the 40 TFSI and 45 TFSI, both fitted with Quattro and an S Tronic transmission as standard. The 40 TFSI 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 – it’s a very relaxing powertrain.
It begs the question why you’d need to upgrade to the 45 TFSI. On most journeys you won’t really notice the extra power on offer, so we’d advise sticking with the 40 TFSI and saving a bit of money.
The S Tronic transmission is smooth enough for most, but it can be a little slow to respond in some cases – 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.
If you prefer diesel, here’s what you can choose from:
- 30 TDI – 2.0-litre with 136hp and 320Nm of torque
- 35 TDI – 2.0-litre with 163hp and 380Nm of torque
- 40 TDI – 2.0-litre with 190hp and 400Nm of torque
- 45 TDI (TBC for the UK) – 3.0-litre with 231hp and 500Nm of torque
- S4 TDI – 3.0-litre V6 with 347hp and 700Nm of torque
The 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 new 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.
Much like the larger S6 and S7 models, the S4 now features a diesel engine instead of petrol - the last S4 used a 3.0-litre V6 that was never quite as exciting as it should have been, so for many reasons it's not a huge loss.
Chief among those is the fact the unlike the S6 and S7, the S4 TDI actually gives away very little in terms of performance over its TFSI predecessor. Expect 347hp and a 0-62mph time of 4.8 seconds - a few horses less and only a tenth slower than the petrol car.
As a result we think the S4 is actually the easiest sell of diesel S range - what Audi is offering here in the updated car is the same pace allied with better fuel economy and CO2 emissions, plus a great big wedge of 700Nm of torque. The last car made do with 500Nm, and felt less flexible as a result.
All-in-all while the conversion to diesel may be maligned by hardcore enthusiasts, we suspect they're more likely to pick an RS 4 anyway (or BMW M3, let's be honest) so this S4 TDI makes a huge amount of sense. All of the same excitement with a satisfyingly smaller drain on your wallet. What's not to like?
Lower-output engines come with a choice of six-speed manual or S Tronic dual-clutch automatic transmissions. The manuals will be appealing to those wanting to get their hands on the cheapest A4 going, but we think it’s worth going for an S Tronic. The A4 is designed to appeal to company car drivers and an automatic gearbox suits that kind of driving far better. It’s not perfect – a BMW or Mercedes automatic is smoother and less jerky – but the differences aren’t too huge, and you can take manual control via the paddles on the steering wheel if you prefer.
Engines no longer available
The A4’s engine line-up has changed quite a bit since 2015. Previously available with petrol power was a 1.4-litre TFSI at the entry point to the range, producing 150hp and 250Nm of torque. It was very smooth indeed and a great option for many low-mileage drivers. The 0-62mph sprint took 8.7 seconds (8.5 for the S Tronic).
At the top of the regular petrol range was a 2.0-litre TFSI with 252hp, coming exclusively with Quattro all-wheel drive and an S Tronic transmission, while 370Nm of torque meant it was a punchy unit – 0-62mph took just 5.8 seconds.
The range-topper was the S4 with a 3.0-litre V6 turbo with 354hp and 500Nm of torque. It too came exclusively with Quattro and S Tronic, with 0-62mph taking just 4.7 seconds.
The diesel line-up kicked off with a 150hp 2.0-litre TDI (now replaced by the 136hp 30 TDI and 163hp 35 TDI), while a pair of 3.0-litre V6 TDI engines were available at the top of the range with a choice of 218hp and 272hp.
- 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; not so this iteration of Audi A4. While the steering may still lack the final degree of feedback of a BMW 3 Series Saloon or Jaguar XE, there’s now a greater sense of what’s going on when you turn the steering wheel, and is nicely weighted in all of the drive modes – Comfort is what we’d suggest for most journeys, but selecting Sport makes things a little heavier if you prefer that kind of thing.
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, but it feels agile and quick to respond. Plus, 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.
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. In fact, with smaller wheels and adaptive dampers fitted, the A4 felt enjoyable and agile while remaining comfortable and composed at the same time. Very impressive.