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The flagship four cylinder diesel engine in Audi's recently facelifted A4 has something for everyone. Matt Low reports
Audi's A4 2.0 TDI is a highly accomplished car with a driving experience well balanced between comfort and sportiness and a common-rail diesel engine produced in several guises to best accommodate user requirements. Some may hanker after a more thrilling drive but for the average compact executive customer, there should be an A4 2.0 TSI that fits the bill.
The importance that Audi places on its A4 range can not be stated too heavily. This was the car that made its mark back at its original launch in 1995 and the Ingolstadt brand hasn't looked back since, regularly out-selling its BMW and Mercedes rivals here. Diesels have always been key to this model's success, though it wasn't until 2008 that the Volkswagen Group pulled up its socks and introduced the high-tech common rail diesel technology offered by most rivals. Further finessed to coincide with the recent facelift, the latest A4 oil burners are more efficient still.
Audi's 2.0-litre common-rail injection 143PS TDI engine is the one most diesel customers opt for in buying an A4. The engine gets the A4 saloon to 62mph from standstill in 9.2s but more importantly has prodigious amounts of mid-range pulling power. A more intriguing option is the 136PS 2.0-litre TDIe which has aerodynamic modifications and lowered suspension to boost economy. If you can find £1,000 over the 143PS model, there's a 177PS variant that gets from rest to sixty about a second quicker. This also comes with the option of quattro 4WD. Refinement is impressive and the A4 remains a very rewarding car to drive in a variety of different scenarios. There are sportier options out there if that's your thing but the A4 strikes a fine balance between eagerness and comfort. Common-rail injection engines fire fuel into each cylinder from a shared (common) pipe (rail). The pipe is pressurised at 1,800bar which allows extremely fine atomisation of the fuel and a highly efficient combustion process. The injectors in Audi's TDI unit are capable of injecting fuel up to five times per combustion cycle at precisely controlled quantities so exactly the right amount of fuel is burned to optimise performance. If you're wondering how this affects you as the driver, it means a very smooth delivery of power without the sudden lunge of torque that can afflict the less sophisticated oil-burners.
A4 facelifts are never radical and this one is no different, narrower headlights giving the frontal aspect a slightly more acute and purposeful appearance while the remodelled bumpers, angular air intakes and flat front fog lights add to the subtly sharper image. The interior is smartly finished, Audi leaving the key design themes alone and concentrating on improving the overall feel. There's a new choice of steering wheels, including the rather lovely flat-bottomed wheel in the S4. The MMI navigation system has had the number of buttons reduced from eight to four, with a shift function integrated into the volume control dial. While it looks cleaner, I wonder if it's any easier from a user perspective, especially when driving solo. Valcona leather has been replaced by Fine Nappa, while the colour palette for the interior has been revised. Buyers now get a choice of aluminium as well as wood dash inlays. The stunning Beaufort oak plywood inlay, first seen on the A6 is also offered.
Whether you opt for the saloon or Avant version, the 2.0TDI engine is available in the SE and SE Technik trim levels. Six-speed gearboxes are standard throughout the range with the auto option being Audi's 8-speed Multitronic CVT. For a premium of around £1000, you can also opt for an estate 'Avant' version in both trim levels. Here, space in the back is rated at 490 litres with the rear seats in place and 1,430 with the rear bench folded. All models get a decent level of kit. Standard on all A4 models is a driver information system with "take a break" recommendation - it detects and draws the driver's attention to deviations from typical driving behaviour on the basis of steering motions and other parameters. Specify the adaptive cruise control assistance system and it'll keep the A4 at a constant distance from the preceding vehicle at speeds between 19 and 124 mph. If the system detects and impending rear-ender at speeds below 18 mph, it'll anchor the brakes on. There's also Audi active lane assist which will prevent the car wandering out of lane and Audi side assist which monitors the space behind the A4 by radar and detects any vehicles in the blind spot. A CD radio with eight speakers is standard, while the MMI navigation plus system with large hard disk, colour monitor, 3D graphics and DVD player forms the top of the line and is a popular specification choice.
If you don't care about the bonnet badge, it's tempting to think that you could save money on a mechanically similar rival model but before you do, make sure to take residual values into account. Add all the figures up at the end of the day and you may well find that there's less in it than you thought, despite the initial outlay. Insurance costs are very little changed over the last generation A4 (the 2.0TDI variant is in group 12) as are fuel consumption figures. The 143PS model manages 62.8mpg on the combined cycle while the 136PS TDIe model returns over 65mpg and 112g/km emissions.
The Audi A4 is a genuine contender for class-leadership status and this is helped in no small part to its 2.0-litre TDI engine, a unit strikes a fine balance between performance, economy and refinement and, with this in mind, it poses a very strong value challenge to its BMW and Mercedes rivals. The facelift has made the A4 subtly more distinctive but, above all, it remains a solidly built compact executive with a finely honed blend of talents and a beautifully designed and finished cabin. And while some will yearn for a sportier edge to the driving experience, they'll find technology and engineering tough to fault. Audi has really been going places over recent years and with products like the 2.0-litre TDI A4s on the books, it's easy to get a handle on why.
The Audi A4 is the entry level luxury saloon from Audi’s roster. This is the choice for the executives who want the luxury, power and presence that the A4 offers. The A4 is the first model in the line-up that has newer engines and Quattro 4 wheel drive capabilities. The Audi A4 is available as a saloon or the estate (Avant).
The newest variant of the A4’s have been in production since 2008 and this has given Audi the time to get it perfect. Also, the Audi A4 is the first Audi to receive the Ultra-low emission TDI engines and technik package – more suited to executives than previous trims. Engines available are 2.0, 2.0 150, 2.0 178 and 3.0 diesel engines. For petrol you can have 1.8T and 2.0T TFSI engines. In terms of trims there is, SE, Sport, S Line and Black Edition. For a supercharged experience check out the Audi S4.
Drivers to lease their Audi A4 typically share the same qualities – they are busy, experienced and enjoy the finer things in life. The Audi A4 is immensely popular and as such it retains its value very well – we also get very generous discounts from Audi UK and you, the customer, can reap the rewards. Have a look around the Audi A4 car leasing hub today and read the reviews, flick through the gallery and you’ll see that it is a top class car.
To conclude – taking an Audi A4 saloon or Avant on a car leasing deal means you get the ultra-modern and innovative engines, a wide choice of trim levels to suit any budgets and needs. The Audi A4 is one of the most popular luxury executive cars on the road and with good reason. What Audi offer is low prices, high quality and efficient engine: this makes the A4 a top quality decision for yourself or the business.
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