The A4 was initially available with just three engines. Two lightweight petrol units in the shape of a 2.0-litre with 130bhp and a 3.0-litre V6 with 220bhp plus a 2.5-litre V6 diesel with 180bhp. Soon after the excellent 1.9-litre TDI unit was added which offered either 110bhp or 130bhp along with the very popular 1.8T engine and a 2.4-litre V6 with 160bhp (this was later upgraded to 167bhp).
In July 2002 a 2.0 FSI unit was added to the line-up and with 150bhp it covered the 0-60mph sprint in 9.6 seconds. The FSI unit is a great blend of performance and efficiency and is the real highlight of the petrol range. At the same time Audi uprated the 1.8T and 2.5 TDI engines - both rising to 163bhp. The 1.8T engine received a further boost in 2004 with power upped to 190bhp plus a 180bhp version of the 2.5 TDI was also introduced.
In mid 2004 the 100bhp version of the 1.9 TDI was replaced by a more efficient 115bhp unit. A five or six speed manual is standard, with some models having the option of Multitronic CVT or Tiptronic automatic gearbox. The high performance S4 is a real beast with a 4.2-litre V8 spitting out 344bhp.
Audi's premium saloon is much improved over earlier cars and has been tuned to deliver a pleasing drive that is responsive yet highly composed. Even compared to other German rivals, the ride can be quite firm, but the trade-off is a more sporty drive. It's good through corners with very little body roll and precise, responsive steering. It's not quite on par with the BMW 3-Series but it's not far behind either.