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Car reviews - Audi - A4 - 2.0 TDIe sedan

Our Opinion

We like
Supple ride, interior presentation, dynamics, smooth, efficient engine
Room for improvement
Limitations of stop-start system, small mirrors

17 Sep 2010

WHO would have ever thought that the car industry would be so focussed on making its cars more fuel efficient? It has happened before, with the numerous oil crises, but this time fuel thrift is here to stay.

Audi’s latest short to medium term solution is to employ technology such as an idle-stop system and regenerative braking to eke out the best economy possible.

Audi’s fuel figures are impressive: its latest mid-size A4 TDIe returns an official average of 4.8L/100km, which is getting to the pointy end of the fuel economy race.

One of the realities of manufacturers’ fuel consumption claims is that they can be hard to achieve in practice, and the Audi A4 TDIe is no different. We achieved 5.7L/100km in an urban/country mix, and 7.2L/100km in the city.

Still, that’s not bad for a premium German sedan and only a few years ago would have been the sort of figures you’d only achieve with a small turbo-diesel hatch.

The A4’s cabin oozes quality and refinements that belie its sub-$50K starting price.

Sure the rear legroom is a bit tight, the A-pillars impede vision a little and the side mirrors could be bigger for better rear vision (at the loss of aesthetics I suppose) but as a whole it is comfortable and makes the buyer feel as though it was money well spent.

The turbo-diesel is not only thrifty but also provides a reassuring mid-range punch when needed. Better still, the transition from the characteristic turbo-diesel soft throttle response off the mark to a torquey mid-range is finely blended it is smooth and predicable.

Some turbo-diesels may well have better torque but are not as drivable because it feels as if you are reaching for an on-off switch when the vehicle lunges forward as it reaches its peak torque.

The 2.0-litre is a smooth diesel too, with a keenness to extend to its redline. The only point at which the diesel feels a little clunky is when it fires up automatically as part of the stop-start feature. You can feel the engine rocking on its mounts, as if it resented being woken up.

The manual transmission feels better to use than in other A4s we’ve sampled. Light, positive shifts are the norm, and the same applies to the clutch operation.

The Audi’s ride and handling are above par, too it has the fine suppleness to its ride over sharp bumps that many manufacturers still can’t get right, and also remains tightly controlled at higher speeds – although it’s not in the same league as BMW.

The A4 TDIe is a front wheel-drive car but its responses to input make it almost feel like a rear-driver. Granted, it’s a long way from being an accomplished rear-drive track car, but for what it is, it’s pretty good.

In a world that is demanding lighter, leaner more efficient cars, it is good to see that some manufacturers have not lost the point that some drivers still enjoy driving.

Although the stop-start system is not especially subtle in operation, this is a minor quibble when you are eating your cake and having it too.

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