Audi A4 1.8 T
A change has come to pass on our roads, up and down the country a familiar site has been quashed by a radical but extremely popular move by a very significant German car manufacturer. The BMW man, seems to have slowly been replaced by the Audi man.
Everywhere you drive nowadays you’re more than likely to see a high number of Audi’s and newer ones at that. Sure there are plenty of Beamers on the road but don’t you find they’re usually, M-Reg 3 Series 1.6i Coupes, made to look like M3s? or slightly newer 3 series models taken from their life of motorway munching to provide reliable and trustworthy service to young families?
Don’t get me wrong, there are brand new BMWs about, they are indeed very nice cars and should never be overlooked when searching for a new car. We are comparing like for like cars here so we’re mainly talking about the 3-Series as the closest rival to the A4.
However, there is a higher number of Audi’s today and for very good reason. Audi is a company that have up until recently, really, been classed by ‘the people’ as second best to BMW.
It’s down to simple business. BMWs always looked aggressive, they had that sharp, young, hard man look. Whilst Audi very much had a softer, generic, blend in, style about them. Take a look at the typical Audi of the late 90s early 00s, was it designed by somebody using a pencil and just a protractor? All curvy and round. Hardly interesting right?
Roll on a few years and the BMW brand took a gamble and went down a wacky designer route moving the 1, 3, 5 and 6 series into unknown territory, the 7 being an example of a timeless classic for people who have the desire for premium luxury, whilst Audi took the opportunity to really ‘man up’ their portfolio. Audi revolutionised their brand to create an image of young people, successful people, sharp pressed suits, quality homes with an aggressive but sharp new look. This is when people started to take real notice of the four rings and perhaps this is the point the blue propeller got left behind a little.
We were lucky enough to be given a brand new Audi A4 1.8 Turbo SE to test drive and review.
It had all the toys you’d expect except leather seats. The one problem Audi and other German manufacturers get stick for is that practically everything is an optional extra, quite honestly, everybody is right. Go to the Audi website and spec the car for yourself and you’ll probably find it costs a lot more than you thought.
The outside of the car is extremely aggressive, it looks as if it should be hunting down tarmac, not sitting still on a dealer forecourt. The masculine front end dominates the design of this car, whilst lines flow through the sides and into the more subtle rear end. This is definitely a car that would bear down on you if you saw it in your rear view mirror.
Step inside and you’re greeted with an incredibly inviting interior and rather futuristic racer like dashboard with all the controls aimed at the driver. This car really is the moment, I don’t think any car of today in this class, has such a genuinely attractive interior.
You get a key fob with the Audi, although it doesn’t include what you or I would normally call a key, it’s just the fob. To start the car you push the fob into it’s place to the left of the steering wheel and the dashboard starts to come alive, press down on the clutch (this is a manual and you’ll find many newer cars require the clutch to be pressed down in order to start) and push the fob in like a button to start the engine.
One thing we noticed right away in this SE model is the ride quality and comfort, it’s not something we’re used to with German cars as they are usually more harsh giving a harder ride than say French or Italian cars. Despite being so comfortable, you can feel the road and quite impressively throw the car into a corner with next to no body roll, composed and sporty in comfort, surely that’s perfect? It was a genuine joy to drive, over speed bumps, useless typical British roads, not a squeak, rattle or even any tiny hint that anything would ever fall apart.
Then comes the engine and what a masterpiece this little beauty really is. A 1.8 Litre Turbocharged power plant with 160PS with enough grunt to pull you from 0-60mph in just 8.6 seconds. On our test we took the car through many different scenarios. One of which we were incredibly impressed with was a simple country road that suddenly whips up into a steep climb, the road splits into two lanes to allow faster vehicles to overtake. With a row full of cars in front of us gradually slowing down I put the car into second and floored the pedal, immediately the car was in boost and we shot past all the other vehicles with no effort what so ever, this car shifts.
It’s amazing how torquey the engine feels considering it’s a mere 1.8 Turbo Petrol. In fact there are 250 of these mystical Torques between 1500-4500RPM. Add this to the respectable combined 39.8mpg or on a long run anywhere from 49.6mpg it shouldn’t be like filling up with liquid gold every time you visit the petrol station.
The problem with these cars is that from new they are all basically spec’d to order. There will probably be a row of second hand A4s at your local dealer, most likely each with different options. With all the decent ones snapped up you begin to get left with ones without toys that you’d want, such as cruise control for example. Audi have a remedy for this problem at hand, most items are very easily retro fitted to all of their newer cars, so the old saying really applies, if you want something, just ask and you shall receive.
You can spec these cars up to incredible heights including radar assisted cruise control, adaptive lighting, high beam assist, power operated boot/tailgate, Audi hill hold assist, electric rear window blind, the list could carry on for some time.
We enjoyed the A4, it’s a car that you honestly shouldn’t judge and talk about until you’ve tried it for yourself, the quality, refinement and passion that has gone into the vehicle is amazing.
It really is, Vorsprung durch Technik.