Used car buyer's guide: Audi A4
IT'S possible to predict certain things about a compact executive car without ever having seen it. If the model is reasonably new, there's a decent chance that it's a company car, more so if it's a lower-priced diesel version. The odds would be even more stacked in your favour if you ventured that the vehicle is manufactured by BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Audi.
These three German brands dominate this sector of the market, mopping up big fleet contracts and individual company car allowances like there's no tomorrow. There is a tomorrow of course, and that starts when these compact executive models emerge on to the used market. Here, things get a lot less predictable, but we can have a stab at deciding if a pre-owned Audi A4 is worth a gamble.
This fourth-generation car arrived in the early stages of 2008 with a largely familiar range of engines and trim levels. The petrol engines were the 1.8 TFSI turbo unit and the 3.2-litre V6, while diesel customers could select from 2.0-litre, 2.7-litre and 3.0-litre TDIs. The Avant estate model arrived to supplement the saloon just a few months later, as did the 2.0-litre TFSI petrol engine. The S4 performance model turned up early in 2009 powered not by a thunderous V8 as in the previous generation of the car but by a 3.0-litre supercharged V6. An off-road capable all-road model joined the Avant range towards the end of 2009.
The headline feature of this A4 was the fact that it sat on the longest wheelbase in its class. Audi took action to try and solve the appallingly small bootspace problem suffered by the Mk I A4 when it came to launching the second-generation car at the turn of the century, and here they turned their attention (at last) to the poor old rear-seat passengers. The lengthened wheelbase enabled a 36mm increase in rear leg room, with the added bonus of a 20-litre boost in boot capacity, making this car easily the most spacious in its class.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
The wheelbase change was about promoting the A4 as a driver's car as well as improving its cabin space. It entailed the repositioning of the front axle 154mm further forwards than in the Mk II model. Complemented by a new state-of-the-art suspension and steering configuration, this more stable foundation allowed improved handling balance and agility. It doesn't make this Audi better than a BMW 3-Series through a set of testing twisties (only rear-wheel drive would do that), but it does lift it clear of its Mercedes rival in this respect.
Reliability hasn't been an issue for the A4 as yet. Many models will have done high mileages in the hands of overworked sales reps but that shouldn't necessarily put you off. Look for a fully stamped-up service history and keep an eye out for uneven tyre wear on powerful models.
The great strength of the BMW 3-Series had been the greatest weakness of Audi's A4, namely its sporty driving experience. This A4 set out to address this with the repositioned front axle moving the centre of gravity towards the middle of the car, sharper steering and a quattro all-wheel-drive system with a torque split biased towards the rear wheels. Buyers who had the money could also specify Audi Drive Select, which enabled tailoring of throttle, steering and suspension characteristics to suit driver preferences.
At launch, this fourth-generation car set a new standard for the Audi A4 and did more than any Audi compact executive model before it to put the wind up rival manufacturers. Sharpened handling and a more spacious interior are added to the usual Audi virtues of build quality and classy design. It's not the most visually arresting machine but beneath the surface, it's got the lot.