Can a car be too good? Thatís the final question I need to answer before handing custody of the A4 keys to another member of the Diesel Car crew. In so many ways, the Audi A4 is the best car I have ever ëownedí, and yet I fear that I wonít look back on it with a great deal of fondness. Thatís not to say I wonít miss it ñ because I will ñ but by engineering the A4 to within an inch of perfection, Audi has made it a hard car to love. Allow me to explain.
Over the course of more than 8,400 miles, the Audi A4 hasnít put a foot wrong. But then you wouldnít expect it to; Audi has developed a reputation for quality for good reason. Over the past seven months I have driven many other cars, some similarly priced, and a few costing considerably more. But in just about every case, Iíve returned to the Audi with a sense of smug satisfaction. I maintain that the current A4ís interior is the best real-world cabin in the business, not least because of the absence of a touchscreen infotainment system. Audi has proved that a series of well-positioned controls and a good voice recognition system is far superior to the hit and miss nature of a touchscreen.
Then thereís the driving experience. I specced the 3.0-litre TDI engine because I felt it was more refined than the 2.0-litre TDI unit, and I feel no different today. The only fly in the ointment is the S tronic transmission, which, thanks to its behaviour at low speeds, isnít a patch on the excellent eight-speed tiptronic gearbox. My advice would be to go the whole hog by ordering the 268bhp version with the tiptronic transmission. But whichever route you take, the 3.0-litre TDI unit is a joyous engine to live with.
Not that the S tronic transmission was an issue on long trips. Covering great distances is the raison díÍtre of the Audi A4, and this new version handles it with aplomb. It rides beautifully ñ which might sound alien to A4 S line owners of old ñ and handles well, should you feel the urge to take the long way home. Itís properly quick, too, with off-the-line pace that would shame a hot hatch. As an all-rounder, then, the A4 is incredibly hard to beat.
Sure, at £45,825 as tested, the Audi A4 is rather expensive. But hereís the thing: I never once felt short changed. Live with a new A4 for a week or two and I defy anyone who says itís not worth the money. Forget all the nonsense about the current A4 being too much of an evolutionary step, because itís far more than that. You might find it hard to love the Audi A4, but you should respect and admire it. And by heck Iím going to miss it.
Date arrived: 28th April 2016
Mileage to date: 8,476
Fuel consumption: 60.1mpg (combined) 42.4mpg (on test)
The engine is a real peach and one of my favourite diesels of all time.
The S tronic transmission is probably the one thing I’d change about ‘my’ Audi A4.