TEST DRIVE | 2013 Audi A4 Technik
Already a firm favourite as premium company cars and family saloons, most Audi A4s are sold with diesel engines due to the surprisingly good running costs and performance. With the introduction of this new Technik (German for technology) model, the Audi A4 is an even more attractive alternative to its rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
The 2.0litre turbo diesel engine coupled with a 6-speed manual gearbox in this car works well and certainly makes the most economic sense with a great balance between price and performance.
To obtain optimum efficiency, the diesel models are fitted with 17” 5-spoke alloy wheels, while petrol models get 18” alloys. Automatic start-stop also helps lower unnecessary fuel consumption and CO2 output.
Steering is very direct driving around town and weights up nicely at higher speeds. However, my biggest problem with the A4 is the ride quality: on visually smooth surfaces the car made a bit of a meal of the road when driving along and really crashed into bumps.
On a better note, the cabin is acceptably quiet at all speeds with no tyre or wind noise and very minimal noise from the engine.
Appearing more frequently on modern cars, the electronic parking brake would probably take some getting used to if you haven’t used one before. Dodgy hill starts are a thing of the past too, thanks to Hill Hold Assist which holds the car’s brakes on a hill then releases them once you’ve found the bite point of the clutch.
The ‘SE’ specification for the A4 (as on this test car) is far from minimalist. It includes 3-zone climate control, an easy to use cruise control system, sensors for automatic headlights and wipers, split/folding rear seats, Bluetooth handsfree and the Audi Concert audio system which includes a DAB radio reception all displayed on a vibrant 6.5-inch colour screen. Estate models also feature powered tailgate opening and closing.
Audi’s ‘MMI’ (Multimedia Interface) has been on their cars for over 10 years now and not changed much in those 10 years; but works perfectly. It’s very easy and intuitive to use but very comprehensive and gives you lots of settings for the car.
The parking guidance system is particularly helpful too, using ultrasonic sensors hidden in the front and rear bumpers which are then shown by an animated display on the main multimedia screen.
The Rest Recommendation System, as Audi calls it, analyses driving behaviour based on steering, pedals and gear lever movements. If the system detects a major change in driving styles it can, via attention-grabbing audio and visual alerts, notify the driver that they should take a break.
Rear legroom is surprisingly good: passengers shouldn’t get uncomfortable on longer journeys. And you’ll have enough room for their entire luggage also – the boot is simply cavernous.
The A4 certainly has a lot going for it, particularly the solid financial aspect if you stick to the 4-cylinder diesel, but the biggest downside is the bone-shaking ride.