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First Drive: 2012 Audi A4 2.0 TDI. Image by Audi.

First Drive: 2012 Audi A4 2.0 TDI
In a bid to take on the forthcoming BMW 3 Series, Audi facelifts its A4. Here's the top-selling 2.0 TDI version.

   



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| First Drive | Lisbon, Portugal | 2012 Audi A4 2.0 TDI |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

Hardly in the last flourishes of youth (launched in 2008), the Audi A4 has just received a mid-life update. The newest collection not only looks different; there are changes under the skin resulting in the most efficient versions of the A4 so far - we try the popular 2.0-litre TDI model.

Key Facts

Model tested: Audi A4 2.0 TDI SE
Pricing: 27,575
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: four-door saloon
Rivals: BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Volvo S60
CO2 emissions: 120g/km
Combined economy: 61.4mpg
Top speed: 143mph
0-62mph: 8.2 seconds
Power: 175bhp at 4,200rpm
Torque: 280lb.ft at 1,750rpm

In the Metal: 4 4 4 4 4

Like a charcoal grey suit, the Audi A4 is never going to stand out in a room, but it's still a classic looker in its own right. The facelifted version is no different; sure the lining is a bit flashier, but the cut of the cloth is much the same. Outside there are changes to the headlights and bumpers, but that doesn't make it a catwalk king.

It's a similar story from behind the wheel as well, with the beautifully constructed cabin sticking with a 'if it isn't broken, don't fix it' approach. So there's some extra chrome trim and less buttons, and a new texture is available for the wood, but on the whole we've seen it all before. That's no bad thing.

Driving it: 4 4 4 4 4

The Audi A4 has always been more smart-casual than sportswear when driven, and the latest revisions haven't changed that. Modifications to the engine not only make it more powerful, but it's now slim fit - being much more efficient as well. In fact, be gentle with your right loafer and thanks to the standard fit stop-start the official combined economy is over 60mpg.

That 2.0-litre diesel engine is silky smooth, more refined than before (especially below 2,000rpm) and boasts a beautifully linear power delivery. And though it can't match the fancy footwork of the new 3 Series through a bend, the A4 is stable and confident on its feet.

There's a deeply unfashionable sounding thermal management system, which shortens the warm up phase of the gearbox oil, but this doesn't alter the notch-like shift action. Another technical highlight of the A4's specification is the electromechanical power steering, which unfortunately dulls the feedback through the wheel.

Still, regardless of the above, the A4 can still strut its stuff on the road. And while it might not be as fast or as daring a mover as some of its more fashionable rivals, it's competent and assured, and anything but 'last year'.

What you get for your Money: 3 3 3 3 3

The standard specification is adequate, nothing more, but the A4 does have a massive amount of options up its sleeve - enough for you to tailor the car to your exact taste. Not only are there 15 colours outside, but also eight shades to choose from for the cabin. The new layered oak wood is probably best avoided though, looking more suited to a yacht than a car.

With prices starting at 27,575 for the SE model, it's broadly comparable to its main competitors, including the forthcoming 3 Series. Low emissions mean road tax is a very reasonable 30 annually and the Audi A4 should prove a safe bet come resale thanks to strong residuals.

Worth Noting

The new car heralds the introduction of some clever technology to the firm's compact exec that should reduce the possibility of having an accident. In combination with the adaptive cruise control, if the system thinks the driver hasn't reacted to the car in front slowing or stopping, the device will sharply apply the brakes to alert the driver. At speeds lower than 18.64mph (30km/h) it can use full braking force to bring the car to a stop, often helping avoid contact altogether.

Summary

It's not cutting edge, but neither is it vintage second-hand either - the new Audi A4 makes a strong case for itself against some talented rivals. If you're happy to blend into the background, rather than stand out, it proves incredibly competent. Plenty of space, classy looks, efficient engines, a composed chassis and quality cabin make it a superb all-rounder.


Graeme Lambert - 8 Dec 2011



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2012 Audi A4. Image by Audi.
 

2012 Audi A4. Image by Audi.
 

2012 Audi A4. Image by Audi.
 

2012 Audi A4. Image by Audi.
 

2012 Audi A4. Image by Audi.
 

2012 Audi A4. Image by Audi.
 

2012 Audi A4. Image by Audi.
 

2012 Audi A4. Image by Audi.
 






 

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