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First Drive: 2012 Audi A4 3.0 TDI. Image by Audi.

First Drive: 2012 Audi A4 3.0 TDI
The facelifted Audi A4 fights for its life - this time in high-performance 3.0 TDI guise.

 



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| First Drive | Lisbon, Portugal | 2012 Audi A4 3.0 TDI |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

With a revised C-Class on the scene and an all-new BMW 3 Series on the way, the fight for compact executive honours just got that bit harder for the Audi A4. Helpfully, Audi has just facelifted the car so we tried the flagship diesel to see if it has what it takes to stand out from the crowd.

Key Facts

Model tested: Audi A4 3.0 TDI Avant quattro S Line
Pricing: 38,390
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 diesel
Transmission: seven-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Body style: five-door estate
Rivals: Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate, BMW 3 Series Touring, Volvo V60
CO2 emissions: 149g/km
Combined economy: 49.6mpg
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 5.9 seconds
Power: 242bhp at 4,000rpm
Torque: 369lb.ft at 1,400rpm

In the Metal: 4 4 4 4 4

It's only been around since 2008, so there's not been much scalpel wielding with this facelift - the lights (borrowed from the current Audi A6) are the most noticeable difference. Not the most daring of changes, but nonetheless the A4 remains a handsome face in the segment.

The cabin was even less in need of a nip and tuck, but there's some added chrome and gloss black trim, upgraded seat leather and additional wood finishes. And though the Avant is never going to be a class leader in terms of space, the 490-litre boot doesn't disgrace itself.

Driving it: 4 4 4 4 4

Make no mistake, this Avant might have a diesel engine under the bonnet but the performance is pretty epic. Admittedly, 242bhp isn't exactly a headline maker, but nearly 370lb.ft just after idle, a seven-ratio S-Tronic dual-clutch gearbox and quattro four-wheel drive means this car's ability belies its sober suited image.

And that's exactly the point - it's not a hot hatch or spine-tingling supercar, but a comfortable cruiser that can wind up the wick and show supposedly sportier cars just how capable it is. It's all aided and abetted by the quattro four-wheel drive system, which provides maximum grip whatever the conditions - it certainly proves confidence inspiring on an unfamiliar back road.

At the same time it's easy to slow down, relax and transport your passengers or cargo to their destination in a relaxed and refined manner. The A4 still suffers from some bump and thump over larger surface imperfections, though it's better than before. But the best thing about the A4 3.0-litre TDI is its conscience - ease off with the right foot and you'll see nearly 50mpg and a sub-150g/km CO2 figure.

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

With a list price of 38,390 before you add some popular (and in some cases essential) options, this isn't a cheap load lugger. In fact, if you simply add metallic paint, leather seats, an iPod connection and satnav your bill will be nearer 41,400.

Still, the smooth, powerful engine has to take the lion's share of the cost - though with low emissions and high economy it's money you'll make back in time. And as it's such a talented all-rounder, it's a financial sacrifice that seems worth making.

Worth Noting

Quick diesels are nothing new from Audi, having installed a mighty V12 TDI engine into its Q7 SUV back in 2008. But the biggest link has to be with the Le Mans program, its prototype racers using the technology to extend stints, lessening fuel stops. Ever since the diesel R10's 2006 debut it has won five of the six Le Mans 24-hour titles, which would suggest Audi might just be onto something after all.

Summary

Quick diesels are nothing new from Audi, having installed a mighty V12 TDI engine into its Q7 SUV back in 2008. But the biggest link has to be with the Le Mans program, its prototype racers using the technology to extend stints, lessening fuel stops. Ever since the diesel R10's 2006 debut it has won five of the six Le Mans 24-hour titles, which would suggest Audi might just be onto something after all.


Graeme Lambert - 8 Dec 2011









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2012 Audi A4 Avant. Image by Audi.2012 Audi A4 Avant. Image by Audi.2012 Audi A4 Avant. Image by Audi.2012 Audi A4 Avant. Image by Audi.2012 Audi A4 Avant. Image by Audi.



2012 Audi A4 Avant. Image by Audi.
 

2012 Audi A4 Avant. Image by Audi.
 

2012 Audi A4 Avant. Image by Audi.
 






 

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