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Car reviews - Audi - A4 - 2.0 TDI sedan

Our Opinion

We like
Muscular midrange performance, effortless high-speed crusing ability, fuel efficiency, quieter than Golf TDI, excellent brakes, superb build quaility, best-in-class interior design, ergonomics, equipment levels, value - it's $11,000 cheaper than its Mercedes rival
Room for improvement
Less responsive than Golf TDI, noisy at start-up (from the outside), CVT lacks response, overly firm ride, steering too light and lacks feel, expensive options including split-folding rear seat, $7000 premium over 2.0 petrol A4

24 Nov 2005

IN some European countries the turbo-diesel takes the lion share of A4 sales.

Knowing this, you would think it be a great drive, right?

Well, it’s certainly no disappointment, this 103kW/320Nm TDI. In fact, the Audi feels just like a Golf turbo-diesel except that it is a bit quieter (good) and a little less responsive (not so good).

Since it uses exactly the same engine as the VW as well as Audi’s A3 2.0 TDI, much of the other performance and dynamic attributes are broadly similar.

This includes a slightly noisy (from outside of the car) start-up when cold, followed by appealingly strong mid-range acceleration and a desire to cruise happily all day at speeds at and beyond the legal limit.

It’s all the same TDI story then, and it’s all good if lazy long-legged cruising is your thing.

The constantly variable transmission (CVT automatic) does take a little getting-used to, but it certainly seems very well matched to the TDI’s impressive power characteristics.

That’s because there is plenty of torque available in the TDI from less than 2000rpm. It’s one of those gearboxes that spools up into action so there is a small time delay.

Only if absolutely instant acceleration is needed, in a very quick overtaking situation for instance, does the relatively languid nature of the CVT become obvious and annoying.

You’d almost forgive it this though since the gearbox is such a smooth and effortless thing.

Otherwise the turbo-diesel settles into the same quality groove that its other A4 siblings inhabit.

That means ride quality that really is bordering on the too firm for comfort steering that is light and very direct but lacking in feel and brakes that are superbly modulated.

You wont be surprised to learn that the build quality is excellent in an interior that is a modern-day classic as far as aesthetics and lay out are concerned.

Now five years old, some critics say it looks a little dated by the A4 is still a paragon of great cabin architecture.

Beautifully weighted minor controls, excellent instrumentation, adequate ventilation and firm yet comfy seats are par for the Audi course.

But while there is reasonable equipment for the money, paying extra for a split-fold rear seat in a car approaching $60,000 seems extortionate to us.

No A4 is going to feel fresh against the E90 BMW 3 Series or Lexus IS250. Both are newer and better for keen drivers.

Yet neither offers a diesel. And the only other one that does in the lower-luxury class demands an extra $11,000-plus for it.

This makes the 2.0 TDI a unique and likeable proposition, as well as the A4 that’s probably the best one to buy if it’s your own bucks that you’re spending. It’s certainly preferable to the 96kW 2.0-litre non-FSI petrol lump, even if it costs $7000 more.

Even a brief drive will reveal why so many Europeans make the TDI their A4 of choice.

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