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Car reviews - Audi - A4 - 1.8T quattro sedan

Our Opinion

We like
Four-wheel drive grip, strong engine, suspension capabilities
Room for improvement
Rear seat legroom is tight, steering too light

12 Jan 2001

DESPITE the fact it has been around since 1995, the A4 fares well in today's market and remains the cornerstone of Audi's Australian operation.

The introduction early in 1999 of the "proper" high-pressure turbo version - compared with the low-pressure turbo version - producing 132kW and delivering power to all four wheels added spice to the A4 fleet.

The all-wheel drive system distributes power between front and rear via a limited-slip Torsen centre differential and the rear suspension is an independent double wishbone design in place of the solid, torsion beam axle used on front-drive versions.

For 1999, the A4 underwent a general, subtle update, receiving a tidied-up front end with ellipsoid headlights and a new front bumper. Interior changes include a redesigned centre console and improved functionality of controls, such as illuminated switches.

Although not especially torquey in the lower rev ranges, the high-power engine packs plenty of punch as the tacho needle swings swiftly to its 6200rpm red line.

Combined with its leech-like grip, this allows the Audi to cover ground quickly regardless of weather or road conditions. It turns in quickly and precisely, and always remains composed.

Impressive brakes add to the feeling of confidence and rock-solid stability although the pedal can still be a little touchy at low speeds. The ride's comfort and suppleness is impressive, although some people testing the car found the gearshift to be slightly baulky.

The classy cabin reflects Audi's deft hand at presentation.

The interior features high standards of build quality with attention to detail evident in little things such as the elegant, hideaway cigarette lighter assembly, the smooth blossoming of the cup holders from their hidden receptacles and the aluminium sill plates bearing the Audi logo.

Supportive, multi-adjustable seats help create an excellent driving position while other plus points include an attractive, ergonomically-designed dashboard, a powerful stereo and an enormous boot. But the climate control is fiddly and rear legroom is quite tight.

The instrumentation is clear and easy to read although the red backlighting may not be to everybody's taste.

The quattro still suffers from the usual A4 problem of being a little tight for space in the back seat, suiting its maker's classification as a "sports sedan" rather than a family conveyance.

The Audi A4 1.8T quattro is a satisfying driver's car with class-leading quality and sensational all-weather performance.

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