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Audi A4 Saloon engines, drive and performance

1995 - 2001 (change model)
Performance rating: 4 out of 54.0

Written by Parkers Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019

The A4’s range of engines offer a well judged balance of refinement, economy and power, from the entry-level 1.6-litre petrol upwards. The car was launched with a choice of four petrol engines – 1.6-litre, 1.8-litre, a turbocharged 1.8-litre and the range-topping 2.6-litre V6 with 150bhp (also available with the Quattro four-wheel drive system). The 1.8T is the best choice as it offers strong performance and decent economy – hence why it’s the most popular model around.

Later a 2.8-litre V6 with 193bhp replaced the 2.6-litre version and in 1997 a 2.4-litre V6 was also introduced. The V6s all offer good pace but at the expense of economy. Only a single diesel was available from launch in the shape of a rather noisy 1.9-litre TDI unit with just 90bhp. A 110bhp was introduced in 1996 and offered much better performance while eventually this was replaced with a newer and smoother 115bhp version which had a 0-60mph time of 10.5 seconds and an average fuel economy of 63mpg.

The other diesel was a 2.5-litre V6 TDI engine with 150bhp – the same as the 1.8T. The high performance version was the rare S4. Powered by a 2.7-litre twin-turbocharged engine with more than 260bhp it featured quattro four-wheel drive as standard and sprinted form 0-60mph in just 5.6 seconds. S4 models will suit the performance saloon enthusiast.

The steering is light, there’s little body roll, and grip is strong and confident, however while it’s reassuring to drive the A4 lacks the satisfying handling of the rear-wheel drive BMW 3-Series. That said it is extremely comfortable and composed plus it will entertain most drivers. The quattro models with four wheel drive offer superb traction, and on the performance S4 model it’s certainly needed.