Inheritance is normally something you hope youíll never receive ñ at least for most of us. However, when a colleague calls you to tell you that heís passing his Audi A4 saloon onto you, you canít help but feel rather pleased about it. Not only has the A4 got a fine reputation amongst critics, but the previous incumbent, Gavin Braithwaite-Smith, seems to have enjoyed it rather a lot over the last few months, so that all left me feeling rather excited. So excited that I hurried on down to South Devon to meet up with him to take the A4 off his hands.
ìGot you a present, Jonnyî said Gav as he handed the A4 over to me in a Waitrose car park. Two oddly-shaped containers of AdBlue were then thrust into my chest, and Gav informed me Iíd need to buy four more of the things to stop the car complaining about being too low on the stuff. Drat, expense already. I discovered later that one of the AdBlue containers was slightly leaky, so after my drive back home, a mysterious white patch had appeared on the carpet in the rear of the car. The AdBlue seems to have bleached part of the carpet, and thereís no fixing that.
Despite this unfortunate incident, the car itself has proved to be faultless so far. Not only has it made a lasting impression on me, friends and family are mightily impressed, too, with the A4 proving to be a brilliant companion as the wintry weather sets in. The extra grip and poise provided by the quattro all-wheel-drive system gives you complete confidence in foul conditions, while the added treat of having both heated seats and steering wheel leave you feeling rather spoilt on dark, cold mornings.
There is one component that Iím not getting on with quite so well, and thatís the seven-speed twin-clutch S tronic
automatic gearbox. And thatís because it falls short in a couple of pretty important areas. Firstly, when pulling away, where gaining a smooth take off is quite difficult, no matter how I feather the accelerator. Maybe I need to spend some more time getting used to it, however, Gavin wasnít exactly over the moon with it either. Secondly, it doesnít hold very well on hills, and when switching from ëdriveí to ëreverseí on a slope, the car can roll for several feet before regaining its poise. Credit where creditís due, on the move the transmission is absolutely faultless, despite the foibles at low speed.
Getting to know the A4 over a long period of time allows you to really appreciate the gravity of how immense the 3.0-litre V6 unit is. Itís ridiculously smooth and on some journeys, Iíve managed to get 55mpg from it. But itís the sound of the engine that has impressed me most, with aural treats that just beg you to give the powerplant a good workout. Maybe I ought to oblige around Exmoor over the coming weeks before it departs; it would be really rude not to.
Date arrived: 28th April 2016
Mileage to date: 9,108
Fuel consumption: 60.1 (combined) 42.1mpg (on test)
The heated seats and steering wheel. They are perfect as the winter sets in.
The S tronic gearbox. It is smooth when up to speed, but jerky during manoeuvring.